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Worker's Compensation - Worker Classification

Nearly all private and public workers in Wisconsin are employees covered under the Act, including employees who are family members (except for farmers in some cases), minors, part-time employees and corporate officers.

The employer must carry worker's compensation insurance if it:

  1. Employs three or more full-time or part-time employees. This employer must get insurance on the day they employ the third person.
  2. Has one or more full-time or part-time employees and has paid gross combined wages of $500 or more in any calendar quarter for work done in Wisconsin.

    This employer must have insurance by the 10th day of the first month of the next calendar quarter. (There are four calendar quarters in a calendar year; the 1st quarter is January through March, the 2nd quarter is April through June, the 3rd quarter is July through September; and, the 4th quarter is October through December.)

  3. Is a farm (farmer) and employs 6 or more employees (at one or more locations) on the same day for 20 days (consecutive or non-consecutive) during a calendar year. A calendar year is January through December.

    This farmer must have insurance within 10 days after the 20th day of employment. Some relatives of the farmer are not counted towards the 6 employees, but will be covered under a policy if one is purchased.

There are a few classes of workers who are covered by federal laws and are not covered by the Act.

  • Employees of the federal government (such as postal workers, employees at a veterans administration hospital, or members of the armed forces) are covered by federal laws.
  • People who work on interstate railroads are covered by the Federal Employers Liability Act.
  • Seamen on navigable waters are covered by the Merchant Marine Act of 1920,
  • People loading and unloading vessels are covered by the Longshoremen's and Harbor Worker's Compensation Act.

Employee Exceptions

The only employee exceptions to the Act's insurance requirement are:

  1. Any person whose employment is not in the trade, business, profession or occupation of the employer, also known as an independent contractor;
  2. Domestic servants;
  3. Some farm employees;
  4. Volunteers, including volunteers of non-profit organizations that receive money or other things of value totaling not more than $10.00 per week;
  5. Religious sect members that qualify and are certified for an exemption; and
  6. Employees of Native American tribal enterprises (including casinos), unless the tribe elects to waive its sovereign immunity and voluntarily become subject to the Act.

Virtually all other workers and employers are subject to the Act.

Select the appropriate employee exception category to continue to worker classification tests: