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Is my company required to offer Workers' Comp?

The purpose of Massachusetts’ Workers’ Compensation program is to give injured workers a system for recovering lost wages and medical costs due to a work-related injury. Massachusetts state government requires all employers, with some exceptions, to provide this insurance for its workers, including themselves if they draw a salary. The mandate covers all employees, no matter how many hours you work, with two exceptions.

If you are a domestic employee, you must work a minimum of 16 hours a week to qualify for Workers’ Compensation coverage. In addition to this rule, those not required to carry the insurance include members and partners of limited liability organizations, as well as sole proprietors of businesses that are unincorporated. If there are other employees of the limited liability organizations, however, they must be offered coverage. Corporate officers who own 25 percent or more of the corporation can seek an exemption from this insurance. Out-of-state companies operating in Massachusetts must still offer coverage to you and other employees who work in the state.

Massachusetts takes Workers’ Compensation coverage seriously, which means employers should too. Companies who do not have this insurance will receive a stop-work order from the state’s Dept. of Industrial Accidents. Along with the closure, the agency will fine businesses a minimum $100 a day, which includes holidays and weekends too, until they obtain coverage. Fines begin the same day as the stop-work order and continue until both the insurance and the fines are paid.

Companies can appeal the stop-work order. If they do not, they must shut down the company immediately and stay closed until they are able to show proof of coverage and the fines are paid. They can also appeal the stop-work order. If they go this route, fines are raised to $250 per day, but the business is allowed to remain open. Any business issued a stop-work order also runs the risk of criminal charges which include up to one year in prison and a fine of up to $1,500. They may also be barred from receiving any public contracts for three years.

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