As a business owner, you have a responsibility to protect your business and your employees. They do the work that helps to make you successful, so they should not be left without a safety net if they are injured or get ill while on the job. In fact, in Georgia, it’s the law to have workers’ compensation insurance.
Every full or part-time employee of a business must have coverage starting from the very first day they begin working. This applies to businesses that employ more than 2 people at any one time. However, it’s a good idea to get coverage even if you are not one of those businesses.
There are some exceptions to this law besides the 3 or more employees caveat. For instance, farm workers, U.S. government employees, and railroad carriers do not have to have coverage. In Georgia, corporate officers are counted as employees towards the 3 employee rule. However, they are able to waive coverage themselves if they choose to. The business still must provide them with the option, however.
If you are a sole proprietor, you are not required to get workers’ compensation for yourself. However, you might find that it’s the prudent choice to make, rather than find yourself in financial difficulty if something were to happen. If you are the only employee and get hurt, then your business may not last through your recovery.
What Is Covered By Workers’ Compensation?
The primary benefit provided by workers’ compensation in Georgia is that an employee’s medical bills are paid for when they are injured at work. Their treatment must be through an authorized physician to prevent fraud. Medical bills can come from hospitals, emergency departments, family doctors, and can include prescriptions and physical therapy.
If an employee has to miss an extended period of work, they will lot be earning their wages during that time. Georgia workers’ compensation insurance will provide approximantely 66% of the average weekly wage for these injured employees. This will allow them to continue paying their bills and feeding their families while they are off work.
Some injuries can lead to permanent or very long-term disability that prevents going back to work at all. This can include an amputation, or even a serious illness from harmful substances. In these cases, the worker will receive wage benefits for as long as they are disables.
The employer also has protection with workers’ compensation coverage. Liability insurance is included with most policies to provide legal cost compensation if an employee sues their employer because of their injuries. However, under Georgia law, if an employee accepts workers’ compensation benefits they lose the right to file a lawsuit.
How to Find Workers’ Compensation Insurance in Georgia?
There are many private insurance providers in Georgia that will compete with prices and services to obtain your business. Some states also have a public fund that employers can use as an option for their workers’ compensation coverage. However, there is no such fund in Georgia, but there is a state risk pool that you can take advantage of if you are having trouble finding the right coverage.
How Are My Premiums Determined?
Not all jobs are created equal when it comes to risk. On top of that, the more someone makes, the more they are entitled to in workers’ compensation benefits, since they most likely have costs and bills that are in line with their salaries. When getting a quote, you will need to take the following steps.
Add up the salaries of every employee in every job type that you have. Your construction job site employees are generally at more risk than your bookkeeper or customer service representative, for instance. You will also need to list all of their responsibilities and potential risks, although the insurance companies will determine risks as well. In general, you can expect to pay approximately $2 for every $100 in payroll that you have. When compared to other states, this is a little on the high side, but it’s well worth it to have your employees covered.
What If I Don’t Provide Coverage?
You might decide as an employer that you want to cut costs by not offering workers’ compensation to your employees. You might get away with it, but it would be a very bad idea. There are several negative consequences should you choose not to get coverage.
If someone is injured and has medical bills and lost wages, they will come to you for compensation. That means potentially defending yourself in a lawsuit and having to pay legal costs. Plus, the employee will be awarded damages and compensation that you will have to pay out of your own pocket. Georgia courts will not look kindly on a business that is not providing adequate workers’ compensation for their employees, so this situation could be incredibly costly.
Even if nobody ever gets hurt, you may face financial penalties in the way of fines. THey could be small, starting from $100. However, the longer you go without the coverage, the higher the fines will get. You could end up paying as much as $10,000 per employee that is not covered. If the Georgia board of workers’ compensation finds that you have made false statements to them, then you could face further fines.
If this goes on too long, then criminal repercussions are the next step. The charge is a misdemeanor for willfully refusing to provide workers’ compensation. This comes with a fine up to $10,000 and up to a year in prison.
Don’t take chances and try to get away with not properly covering your employees. In the end, it is easy to get caught, and it will not be worth it.
Obtaining workers’ compensation in Georgia is a fairly simple process. You do need to do some legwork to make sure that your employees are fully covered, but with a robust private marketplace, there is no reason that you shouldn’t get the coverage you need. Protect your workers, your business, and yourself with the right workers’ compensation coverage.