What Florida Workers Compensation laws apply?

It has been increasingly difficult for small sub-contractors or artisans to secure WC in the State. On January 1, 2004 Florida's legislature again changed the State Worker's Compensation laws to try to "even" the playing field for all construction-type operations - including even Florida SubContractors/artisans.  More....

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Florida Workers Comp Compliance Sweep

Florida’s Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher announced the completion of a sweep of construction sites across Florida to verify that employers are complying with state workers’ compensation insurance laws. As part of the statewide effort, investigators with the Department of Financial Service’s Division of Workers’ Compensation made random site visits, ordering dozens of employers to stop work because employees were not properly covered by workers’ compensation insurance.  More....
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See our  brief history of the Florida Workers Compensation exemption laws.

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          Exemption FAQ's

Specifically this "did away" with all exemptions except for a limit of up to three officers of a corporation or LLC who own 10% more of the stock in that corporation or LLC (a sub-S corporation is a corporation in Florida). This means THAT you have to be a corporation or LLC to exempt yourself, even if you have just one employee - yourself. If you or your company is a sole proprietorship or partnership, YOU CAN'T exempt yourself or anyone from Worker's Compensation in Florida.

The guidelines, effective July 1, 2002, do NOT allow contractors or subcontractors to exempt themselves, or those working on their behalf, if the project is a commercial project valued at $250,000 or more. The value is to be established by the local municipality’s building permit or Southern Building Code Conference International/International Code Council (SBCCI/ICC) Building Code Valuation Data.

What does this mean to me as a contractor or a subcontractor? 

The law and the rule that implements it place several major requirements on  contractors and subcontractors in Florida.

    1. Contractors and subcontractors who work on commercial projects valued at $250,000 or more must have workers’ compensation insurance in place for everyone working on a contractor’s or subcontractor’s behalf at the construction or renovation site. This includes sole proprietors, partners and corporate officers, if they visit the job site.

    2. Contractors and subcontractors who would normally treat certain workers as “independent contractors” cannot treat them as such for the purposes of workers’ compensation insurance coverage when working on a commercial project valued at $250,000 or more. When working on these projects, workers must be considered either employers or employees, and must have the appropriate workers’ compensation coverage in place.

    3. All employers working on commercial projects valued at $250,000 or more must maintain employee payroll and coverage records for those jobs and must be able to produce these records upon request.

    4. Failure to maintain the appropriate records and/or insurance will render a contractor or subcontractor in violation of the law and makes them subject to penalties under the provisions of Section 440.107, F.S.

    5. General contractors on commercial construction or renovation sites are responsible for ensuring that all subcontractors meet the mandatory insurance requirements for crews working on their sites.

Questions and Answers - Florida Workers Compensation

Question:  What was the Division’s notification process?

Answer: Senate Bill 108 was signed into law in May, 2002.  At that time, there were nearly 150,000 exemption holders in Florida that would be affected by the new law changes.  Notice of the change was posted on the Division of Workers' Compensation web site as well as on several industry web sites prior to the effective date of July 1, 2002. Although there was no statutory requirement that the Division provide notification to exemption holders, letters were mailed to exemption holders in batches of 8,000-10,000 per day beginning the last week in June and continued through July 12, 2002.

Question:  Does the new law apply to renovations to existing commercial buildings or residences?

Answer: If the value of the renovations to an existing commercial building project exceeds $250,000, an exemption is not applicable; therefore workers’ compensation coverage must be obtained. If the value of the renovations is less than $250,000, the exemption remains in effect.  The changes in the exemption law do not apply to residential buildings, which are defined as any building or structure intended for residential use containing four or fewer dwelling units.

Question:  How will my premium be determined for the work I do on commercial projects?

Answer: You must retain verifiable payroll records that will differentiate your activities on commercial projects over $250,000 and all other job activities.  In addition, the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) and the Department of Insurance will develop premium determination rules that insurers must follow.

Question:  If I am already working on a commercial project, is my exemption valid on that one still or not?

Answer: The law provides that an exemption does NOT apply on or after July 1, 2002 to a commercial building project valued at $250,000 or greater.  Therefore, your exemption is not valid and you must obtain workers’ compensation coverage where you work on such a project on or after July 1, 2002.  Your exemption does STILL apply to work on commercial building projects valued at less than $250,000 or residential projects with four or fewer dwelling units.

Important Definitions - Florida Workers Compensation Laws

Construction Industry for-profit activities involving the carrying out of any building, clearing, filling, excavation, or substantial involvement in the size or use of any structure or the appearance of any land. When appropriate to the context, “construction” refers to the act of construction or the result of construction. However, “construction” shall not mean a landowner’s act of construction or the result of construction upon his or her own premises, provided such premises are not intended to be sold or resold.

Employee – any person engaged in any employment under any appointment or contract of hire or apprenticeship, express or implied, oral or written, whether lawfully or unlawfully employed, and includes, but is not limited to, aliens and minors.

Commercial Building – any building or structure intended for commercial or industrial use, or any building or structure intended for multifamily use of more than four dwelling units, as well as any accessory use structures constructed in conjunction with the principle structure. The term commercial building does not include the conversion of any existing residential building to a commercial building.

Residential Building any building or structure intended for residential use containing four or fewer dwelling units and any structures intended as an accessory use to the residential structure.

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