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In almost every U.S. state, employers are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance if they meet a specific set of criteria. Businesses that fail to fulfill their requirements are often subject to fines or penalties. Finally, many states have exemptions for certain categories of workers.
In this article, we’ll go over who you need to cover, who is exempt, and possible penalties for non-compliance in the state of Georgia.
How does workers’ compensation insurance in Georgia work?
Most businesses in Georgia must carry workers’ compensation insurance if they have three or more full time, part time, or seasonal employees. In corporates or LLCs, corporate officers are included in the employee total even if they exempt themselves from coverage. Workers’ compensation insurance in Georgia is available through licensed, private insurance carriers.
Who needs workers’ compensation insurance in Georgia?
Any part time, full time or seasonal employee needs to be covered by workers’ comp if their company has three or more employees. However, certain types of employees are not required to be covered:
- Railroad carriers
- U.S. government agencies
- Farm laborers
- Domestic servants
Corporate officers can opt to exclude themselves from coverage, but they still count toward a company’s employee total.
As a business owner or sole proprietor, you may not have to purchase workers’ compensation insurance for yourself. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get coverage. Sustaining an injury or illness while performing your work can lead to sizable hospital bills, medical costs and a lengthy recovery period. Investing in workers’ comp for yourself could save you from a brutal financial setback.
What are the penalties for not having workers’ comp in Georgia?
As an employer, not having workers’ compensation insurance if you’re required to do so can result in fines and penalties. In Georgia, you can face both civil and criminal penalties if you aren’t compliant with workers’ compensation laws.
General violations can carry a penalty of $100 to $1,000. Failure to provide coverage when you’re legally required to do so carries a penalty of $500 to $5,000. False statements made to the Board of Workers’ Compensation carry the largest penalty and can total $10,000 per violation. Employers found guilty of willfully neglecting to provide coverage can also face up to a year in prison.
Beyond the potential civil and criminal penalties, not having coverage for your employees opens up the possibility of costly future liability. If one of your workers gets hurt on the job, the compensation they would have received from an insurance policy will go out of your company’s coffers instead. There’s no question about it, cutting corners with workers’ comp is never worth it.
What does workers’ comp cover?
If one of your employees is injured or becomes ill on the job, workers’ comp can cover their immediate medical expenses such as ambulance rides, emergency room visits, x-rays, surgery and prescription medications.
For example, if a kitchen employee reaches into a sink and slices their hand on a broken glass, they might require medical attention. Workers’ comp could cover the costs of their emergency room visit, stitches and pain management prescriptions.
Many work-related incidents can leave employees unable to work for several weeks or months. Workers’ comp can provide some relief for employees in the form of partial wage replacement.
If an employee breaks their foot in a work-related accident, they could end up stuck at home for multiple months. While they’re out of work, workers’ comp would cover some of their lost wages.
Some work-related injuries require long-term care such as physical therapy or pain management. Often, these injuries are more the result of repetitive workplace stress rather than a single traumatic incident. Chronic back issues for construction workers and carpal tunnel syndrome for office employees are two common examples of the types of workers who must receive ongoing care due to repetitive stress. If their claim is approved, workers’ comp can cover the costs associated with their ongoing care.
If the unthinkable happens and an employee passes away because of a workplace incident, workers’ comp can cover funeral costs and other death benefits for the deceased worker’s family or beneficiaries.