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Glossary of WCB Terms

Independent Contractors and Subcontractors


Classifying Independent Contractors and Employees

A business cannot require employees working for that business to obtain their own workers' compensation insurance policy or contribute towards a workers' compensation insurance policy (Employees).

However, a business may require an independent business that has its own employees to obtain a workers' compensation insurance policy if the independent business is working as a subcontractor. (An independent business usually has characteristics such as media advertising, commercial telephone listing, business cards, business stationary or forms, its own Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN), working under its own permits or operating authority, business insurance (liability & WC), and/or maintaining a separate establishment. The independent business has a significant investment in facilities and means of performing work.)

For example, if Business A contracts with Business B to perform services and Business B is an independent business with its own employees, Business A can require Business B to have its own workers' compensation insurance policy and obtain a certificate of insurance for this policy. This will help ensure that Business A's workers' compensation premiums are as low as possible.

If an individual is truly independent, the individual works under his/her own operating permit, contract or authority. In many instances, individuals alleged to be subcontractors have been determined by the Board, acting in its adjudicatory capacity, to be employees when such individuals have been injured and have filed claims against the general contractor. As a result, insurance carriers often assess general contractors premiums for coverage of all "subcontractors" on the job site, unless the subcontractors furnish proof that they have their own workers' compensation insurance policy. Accordingly, general contractors routinely require that subcontractors provide proof of their own workers' compensation coverage in order to co-work on the job. This results in many sole proprietors, partnerships, and one or two person owned corporations with no employees who are not otherwise legally required to acquire a workers' compensation policy, being required to purchase a policy (and include themselves in that policy) in order to work for a particular general contractor. (Identifying an Independent Contractor)