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How does workers’ compensation apply to contractors?

Most people employed in Minnesota are able to file for workers’ compensation benefits if injured while on the job. These benefits are made possible by the purchase of workers’ compensation insurance by employers. The construction industry in particular makes heavy use of independent contractors and subcontractors. This can make it hard for you to understand who is responsible for providing workers’ compensation insurance for these people.

According to the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry, there are multiple criteria that must be met in order for someone to be considered a true independent contractor. In addition to passing a nine-point test, the following are also required:

  • Registration with the Department of Labor and Industry
  • Business registration with the Secretary of State
  • Appropriate business name on all invoices and payment processing documentation

Without some other exemption, the lack of all of the above criteria can result in a misclassification. When this happens, you as the primary contractor can be liable for workers’ compensation coverage of subcontractors. When any subcontractors that you hire do not have their own workers’ compensation insurance, your coverage will then be applied to those people if they are injured on the job. This will be the case if you are involved in a situation in which an intermediate contractor is involved who is also uninsured. Essentially the liability can be passed up the chain to a general or intermediate contractor who is properly insured.

If you are a contractor without other employees, you can still purchase workers’ compensation insurance to cover yourself and even some family members. This information is not intended to provide legal advice but general information about workers’ compensation coverage for independent contractors in Minnesota.

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