State and local governments and those employing farm laborers or domestic help are exempt from the coverage requirements but may elect to purchase workers’ compensation coverage anyway.
Sole Proprietors, Partners and Members of LLC’s are excluded from the count of employees that determines whether or not an employer is covered by the Tennessee Workers’ Compensation Act. Corporate officers are afforded the right to exempt themselves from a workers’ compensation policy, but are NOT excluded from the count of employees unless they are not paid or compensated.
If an employer is not required to have worker’s compensation insurance and an employee gets hurt at work, the injured worker is not entitled to workers' compensation benefits, but he/she is not barred or prohibited from filing a lawsuit against the employer.
The Workers’ Compensation Exemption Registry is administered by the office of the Tennessee Secretary of State’s office for the purpose of providing a mechanism for legitimate business owners in the construction industry or construction service providers to obtain an exemption from workers’ compensation coverage requirements on him or herself. Employees are not eligible for the exemption registry, only employers with an ownership stake in the company. Exempt employers are still required to cover all of their employees, even if they have only one employee.
An applicant must be in the construction industry or be a construction service provider who is:
- A sole proprietor who owns 100% of the assets of the business,
- An officer of a corporation;
- A member of a limited liability company with at least a 20% ownership interest, or
- A partner with at least a 20% ownership interest.
In addition, an applicant may qualify for the exemption if the applicant and members of the same family of the applicant hold at least 95% ownership of the business. Exemptions are valid for two years.
Employers in the construction industry can learn how to register to become exempt from covering themselves, renew a previously granted exemption, and learn more about the program by clicking the link above. Anyone can search the registry to look for exempt employers by clicking the same link.
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