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Who must carry workers' compensation insurance in Pennsylvania?

The purpose of workers' compensation insurance is to provide financial assistance to workers who suffer an injury or illness due to work-related activities. This is the standard in Pennsylvania and all states throughout the country. According to Pennsylvania law, workers' compensation is mandatory for every employer who employs even as few as one employee who could suffer injuries either at the workplace, anywhere within the state, or in some cases, outside the state while working.

Employers may buy workers' compensation liability insurance from multiple places. First, employers may buy workers' compensation insurance from the Pennsylvania State Workers' Insurance fund. They may also buy it from an insurance company licensed in Pennsylvania. Finally, after obtaining an approval from Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry they could opt for self-insurance, either individually or as a group.

Workers' compensation insurance protects employers by covering costs arising from work loss or medical care, resulting from a work-related injury or illness. The workers' compensation liability insurance fund also helps employers in the event of tort claims arising from workplace injuries or illnesses. Additionally, workers' compensation liability insurance can protect employers and agents acting on its behalf from criminal prosecution arising from non-compliance of state laws.

In some cases, however, a Pennsylvania business may be exempted from carrying workers' compensation liability insurance. Such instances include when all employed workers are federal workers, longshoremen, railroad workers, casual workers, employees who work from home for their employers and in certain conditions, agricultural laborers and domestic workers. There are also additional employers who have been granted exemption by the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry from carrying such insurance.

Source: Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry, "Workers' Compensation Compliance," Accessed Feb. 22, 2015

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