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What to know about workers' compensation in Pennsylvania

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January 27, 2022
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What to know about workers' compensation in Pennsylvania

Workers’ compensation, which can provide cash and medical care to employees injured on the job, and benefits to survivors in cases of a work-related death, began with a federal program in 1908. It gave benefits to civilian workers whose jobs were hazardous and became the first kind of social insurance established across the United States.

By 1916, the rest of the federal workforce was covered. States meanwhile were enacting their workers’ compensation laws. All but six states and the District of Columbia had them by 1921.

Today, programs exist in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The details of each program vary by state. Four states—Ohio, North Dakota, Washington and Wyoming—require insurance be obtained through a state-administered fund rather than through a private insurer. Another option is to self-insure for approved businesses. Most states require some businesses to provide coverage and can levy substantial fines for failing to comply. South Dakota and Texas leave the choice to businesses, although Texas makes an exception for construction companies with a government contract.

Simply Business reviewed rules, statistics, and other information about workers’ compensation insurance—including the comprehensive breakdown by the National Federation of Independent Business—to offer a breakdown of what workers’ comp requirements in each state. Rules are subject to updates periodically, so it’s important to stay up-to-date based on your trade and location.

Workers' Compensation in Pennsylvania

Employers with at least one employee must provide workers’ compensation insurance coverage in Pennsylvania, which can be through the state-administered fund, no matter how many hours the employee works each week or whether the employee is a spouse or child. Sole proprietors, partners, and corporate officers can choose whether to have coverage. Some exemptions: real estate agents or brokers, insurance agents who work on commission, domestic workers, casual laborers, farmers whose one employee earns less than $1,200 a year and works fewer than 30 days, and a farmer’s spouse or child younger than 18. A misdemeanor conviction of failure to maintain coverage can lead to a $2,500 fine and up to one year imprisonment for each day the employer is in violation. A felony conviction can result in a $15,000 fine and up to seven years imprisonment.

Workers’ Compensation Benefits, Costs, and Coverage, an October 2021 report from the National Academy of Social Insurance, found that total benefits paid to employees rose by 0.4% nationwide from 2015 to 2019. Cash benefits rose by 2%, but medical benefits fell by 1.1%. Standardized benefits fell— cash by 14% and medical benefits by 16.7%—over the same period.

Keep reading to see what workers' compensation looks like for other states in your area.

Workers' Compensation in Delaware

Employers with at least one employee must provide coverage in Delaware, though independent contractors are exempt. Farmworkers also need not be covered, but they can be. Domestic or casual workers who earn less than $750 in a three-month period in a single private home are excluded, as are some real estate professionals. An employer who fails to report injuries as required can be fined between $100 and $250 for each offense. And one who does not provide required coverage can receive a penalty matching the most expensive policy premium, then in effect times three for a year.

Workers' Compensation in Maryland

Maryland’s workers’ compensation coverage applies to all employers with at least one employee and can be obtained through the state-administered fund. The following exemptions apply: Farms with fewer than three full-time workers or an annual payroll for full-time employees that is less than $15,000. Agricultural office workers, the owner-operators of tractor trailers, and independent contractors working on farms are also exempt. Employers that do not provide insurance shall face a fine of not more than $10,000. Sole proprietors are excused from the mandate.

This story originally appeared on Simply Business and was produced and distributed in partnership with Stacker Studio.

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