Who is an employer in Wisconsin for Workers Comp insurance definition purposes is obviously important because depending on your business and/or employer classification you may or may not want to buy workers compensation for your staff/workers/help.
Looking at the Office of Commissioner of Wisconsin’s website at the time of writing, I find S. 102.04 stating the following definition for a Wisconsin employer (again, for workers comp insurance):
– Under Wisconsin law, virtually all employers are required to carry worker’s compensation coverage. An employer is defined as any of the following:
The state, each county, city, town, village, school district, drainage district, and other public or quasi-public corporation within these political subdivisions.
– Every person who usually employs THREE OR MORE employees whether in one or more trades, businesses, professions, or occupations, and whether in one or more locations;
– Every person who usually employs fewer than three employees, provided that the person has paid wages of $500 or more in any calendar quarter (a calendar quarter is Jan-Mar, Apl-Jun, Jul-Sep, and Oct-Dec) for services performed in Wisconsin. An employer becomes subject to the worker’s compensation requirements on the first day of the calendar year next succeeding such quarter. For example, let’s say you paid $501 in payroll on January 2000, and nothing for February and March. You become an “employer” required to have workers’ compensation insurance coverage on April 1st, 2000.
You could also pay $501 in payroll on March 30th, and still have to have workers’ comp in place on April 1st 2000, which can be harsh if taken to a strict holding by the state. As someone employing people, you should expect the state to have a strict holding of the rules you’re legally required to follow. You should NEVER expect the state to waive penalties and fines they can assign to you. While I’ve heard of it happening, and they may use a “light touch” with you looking for future compliance and not trying to get a pound of flesh, I’ve heard horror stories too.
Generally speaking, it’s my opinion many, especially state workers view being an employer a privilege and that if you’re not strongly regulated, you’re greedy and you’ll take every advantage of people that are your employees. And that’s it’s rare for regulators to take a position of thankfulness and gratitude you’re employing people and providing jobs. That may be your take on it, albeit don’t expect state regulators to share that feeling. Ok, off the soapbox and back to who an employer is…
In general, farmers or farm labor do not come under the definition of employer, unless the person engaged in farming employs six or more employees on at least 20 days during the calendar year.
Ok, so who’s an employee under the Wisconsin Workers’ Compensation insurance laws and regulations:
– An employee is defined under Wisconsin law as any of the following:
Every person, including all officials, in the service of the state, or of any municipality in Wisconsin
– Any peace officer during the performance of his or her duty
– Every person in the service of another under any contract of hire, and all helpers and assistants to employees if they are employed with the knowledge of their employer, including minors. This doesn’t include domestic servants, or any person whose employment is not in the course of a trade, business, profession, or occupation of an employer, unless the employer has elected to include such persons under the employer’s worker’s compensation coverage.
– Person selling or distributing newspapers or magazines on the street or from house to house.
– Persons who are members of volunteer fire departments or fire departments organized under Wisconsin law pertaining to fireemen’s associations
– Every independent contractor who does not maintain a separate business and who does not hold himself or herself out to and render service to the public, provided that the person is not an employer as defined under the preceding section.