Posted on: 23 July 2018Share
Getting a new job, or even just switching positions with your current employer, often results in the signing of dozens of pieces of paperwork. If you're offered some kind of waiver of your right to workers' compensation insurance as part of a sign up package, you should understand the legality and enforceability of the contract before signing it.
In most states, only owners and high level executives that benefit directly from ownership of the company are allowed to sign away their automatic inclusion into a workers' compensation insurance policy. This is because owners and executives would be financially affected by their own claims, creating a kind of conflict of interest. Anyone below that level within a corporation's structure is entitled to make a workers' compensation claim, regardless of any waivers they may sign, unless the state allows for a different arrangement.
State Law Varies
States that consider workers' compensation insurance an optional business practice also tend to allow employees to waive their rights to coverage. However, nearly every state still has some requirements related to business size, employee pay, or industry that limit your rights to remove an employee's workers' compensation protection, even with waivers. Talk to a local attorney that practices workers' compensation law to make sure your employee actually has the right to ask you to sign a waiver before signing, even if you are being offered higher pay or other benefits to compensate.
Don't confuse a waiver of rights to subrogation for a waiver of workers' compensation protection in general. The waiver of rights of subrogation is a form that limits the insurance company's ability to sue third parties involved in an injury claim, such as the manufacturer of a tool you were using at work that broke and injured you. Waiving the rights to subrogation related to a future workers' compensation claim will not have much effect on you as an employee since you will still be entitled to the same amount of compensation from your employer.
Since independent contractors are business owners contracted for specific work and not employees, they can sign waivers to workers' compensation protection in most states. This is because they are a separate class from employees and are expected to cover their own costs for protection like insurance. However, this kind of waiver is rarely needed since following all of the federal rules regarding the treatment of independent contractors is enough to establish the right of a business to deny any claims specific to a workers' compensation situation.
For more information, contact a local workers' compensation attorney.