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Uninsured employers in California may relate to farmers' problems

Employers in California and elsewhere are typically obligated to purchase insurance meant to provide benefits to workers who are injured on the job. When a worker gets hurt and files a claim, the benefits received can help replace lost wages (if an injury has rendered the person unable to work) and can also help alleviate financial debt associated with medical bills and other treatments. Many uninsured employers run into problems, as evident in a recent ongoing issue concerning farmers---especially, those on family-run farms.

Some say farmers whose workers are mostly comprised of family members should not have to purchase workers' comp insurance. A senator in another state where the issue is currently being debated said that it is not likely that employers on small farms will be exempt from the obligation to purchase insurance for injured workers. However, the senator said it may indeed be possible to come up with a plan that lowers the cost of insurance for small-producing farms.

A legislative team determined that family members working on farms are classified as volunteers. If they are paid for their time and services, they may be categorized as employees. Usually, in order for an employer to be obligated to purchase insurance, there has to be three or more paid employees on the payroll.

Classifying workers gets complicated in certain types of situations. For instance, many farmers help one another out; some even receive payment for their services. However, if the work is only offered once in a while, it may be difficult to determine whether that person is to be considered a paid employee when discerning whether workers' compensation insurance is required. Uninsured employers in California with questions regarding the topic may seek answers by requesting consultations with a workers' compensation attorneys.

Source:, "Workers comp ruling under fire", Aug. 19, 2016

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