What type of small business would you work for? Would you look for a company that aligns with your interests? What about a company that has a lot of potential for growth? Maybe you want to work for a company that emphasizes philanthropy. One thing that people don’t often think about is whether their current or potential employer has the correct workers’ compensation insurance.
It may not be as obvious, but risk of injury in a small business is very real. Often, people associate work-related injuries with construction site accidents or carpal tunnel. The truth is there are many different ways that an employee could get hurt while at work. And those who work in a small business environment are no less susceptible than those working for a large corporation or in an outdoor setting.
But what does that mean in the context of a small business? If you work for a small business owner, but consider yourself a contractor, does that also mean you are an employee of the small business? How does one define “employee”? The most obvious answer is if you are hired as a full-time employee and work for the business, you are an employee. But many small businesses use contractors as employees. If a contractor suffered an on-the-job injury, are they able to claim workers’ compensation benefits? Would the small business owner be required to have workers’ compensation insurance?
In short, the answer to both questions is yes. Though a worker may be considered an independent contractor for tax purposes, they are actually employees when it comes to insurance. For example, one man who owns a photography business was fined by the Colorado Department of Labor after it was discovered that he did not have the correct insurance. He had been operating under the incorrect assumption that because his workers were contractors, he did not need workers’ compensation insurance.
If you do get injured on the job, filing a workers’ compensation claim does not mean you are suing your employer. It just means that you are seeking compensation for your workplace injury to help with things like medical expenses or living expenses. Filing this type of claim can get pretty complicated, especially with insurance adjusters trying to resolve the claim as quickly as possible.
It can get overwhelming trying to deal with an injury while taking time off work and at the same time dealing with insurance carriers and the complex claims process. That and fitting in doctor appointments to make sure that your injury and recovery are being accurately tracked. Because there are many nuances to the workers’ compensation system in Colorado, it is important to talk to someone who understands the system. This will help you pursue the benefits you need while you are recovering from your injury.
By the way, if you are looking for a new job there are a lot of things to consider before saying yes to an offer. But in addition to considering benefits like a good 401K package or a hefty bonus, you should also make sure that your potential employer has the proper insurance as well.
Source: Northern Colorado Business Report, “Small-business insurance a must-have,” Jamie May, Aug 23, 2013