Who is Covered by New York State Workers Compensation Laws?


By law, almost all employers in New York State have to provide workers’ compensation coverage for their employees and must publicly post notice of coverage in the workplace. According to New York State law, employers must cover the following categories of workers:

  1. Workers in all employments conducted for-profit. Part-time employees, borrowed employees, leased employees, family members, and volunteers working for a for-profit business must also be covered under the Workers’ Compensation Law (WCL §3 Groups 1-14-a);
  2. Employees of counties and municipalities engaged in work defined by the law as “hazardous” (WCL §3 Groups 15, 15-a and 17);
  3. Public school teachers, excluding those employed by New York City, and public school aides, including New York City (WCL §3 Groups 20, 20-a and 22);
  4. Employees of the State of New York, including some volunteer workers (WCL §3 Group 16);
  5. Domestic workers employed forty or more hours per week by the same employer, including full-time sitters or companions, and live-in maids (WCL §3 Group 12) (see Domestic Workers)
  6. Farmworkers (see Farms)
  7. Any other worker determined by the Board to be an employee and not specifically excluded from coverage under the WCL (WCL §3 Groups 1-14-a and 18);
  8. All corporate officers if the corporation has more than two officers and/or two stockholders (WCL §54 [6]) (see Corporate Officer Coverage Requirements);
  9. Officers of one-or-two person corporations if there are other individuals in employment. These officers may choose to exclude themselves from coverage (WCL §54 [6]) (see Corporate Officer Coverage Requirements); and
  10. Most workers compensated by a nonprofit organization (WCL §3 Group 18) (see Nonprofit Organizations).

 Volunteer Firefighters and Volunteer Ambulance Workers are provided benefits for death or injuries suffered in the line of duty under the Volunteer Firefighters’ Benefit Law and Volunteer Ambulance Workers’ Benefit Law.

Just as Important Who is NOT Covered by New York State Workers Compensation Laws?

  1. Individuals who volunteer their services for nonprofit organizations and receive no compensation. Please note that compensation includes stipends, room and board, and other “perks” that have monetary value (WCL §3 Group 18). Money used solely to offset expenses incurred while performing activities for the nonprofit is not counted as a stipend (WCL §2 [9]);
  2. Duly ordained, commissioned, or licensed ministers, priests, and rabbis; sextons; Christian Science readers; and members of religious orders (WCL §3, Groups 18);
  3. Members of supervised amateur athletic activities operated on a nonprofit basis, provided that such members are not otherwise engaged or employed by any person, firm, or corporation participating in such athletic activity (WCL §3 Group 18);
  4. People engaged in a teaching capacity in or for a nonprofit religious, charitable or educational institution (Section 501(c)(3) under the IRS tax code). (WCL §3 Group 18) To be exempt, the teachers must only be performing teaching duties;
  5. People engaged in a non-manual capacity in or for a nonprofit religious, charitable, or educational institution (Section 501(c)(3) under the IRS tax code (WCL §3 Group 18). Manual labor includes but is not limited to such tasks as filing; carrying materials such as pamphlets, binders, or books; cleaning such as dusting or vacuuming; playing musical instruments; moving furniture; shoveling snow; mowing lawns and construction of any sort;
  6. Persons receiving charitable aid from a religious or charitable institution who perform work in return for such aid and who are not under any express contract of hire (WCL §3 Group 18), and certain persons receiving rehabilitation services in a sheltered workshop (Mental Hygiene Law §33.09);
  7. People who are covered for specific types of employment under another workers’ compensation system such as those employed in certain maritime trades, interstate railroad employees, federal government employees, and others covered under federal workers’ compensation laws;
  8. The spouse and minor children (under 18 years old) of an employer who is a farmer as long as they are not under an express contract of hire (WCL §2 [4]);
  9. Certain employees of foreign governments and Native American Nations (Foreign Government Employees and Native American Enterprises);
  10. New York City police officers, firefighters, and sanitation workers who are covered under provisions of the New York State General Municipal Law. Uniformed police officers and firefighters in other municipalities may also be excluded;
  11. People, including minors, doing yard work or casual chores in and about a one-family, owner-occupied residence or the premises of a nonprofit, noncommercial organization (WCL §2 [4]). Casual means occasionally, without regularity, without foresight, plan, or method. Coverage is required if the minor handles power-driven machinery, including a power lawnmower;
  12. Certain real estate salespersons who sign a contract with a broker stating that they are independent contractors (WCL §2 [4]) (Real Estate Brokers);
  13. Certain media sales representatives who sign a contract stating that they are independent contractors (WCL §2 [4]) (Media Sales Representatives);
  14. Certain insurance agents or brokers who sign a contract stating that they are independent contractors (WCL §2 [4]) (Insurance Agents); and
  15. Sole proprietors, partners, and certain one/two-person corporate officers with no other individuals providing services integral to the business (although coverage may be obtained voluntarily) (WCL §2 [4]). (Sole ProprietorshipsPartnerships, and Corporate Officer Coverage Requirements). Also, read Independent Contractors and Subcontractors for exceptions.

If you have questions about whether or not you are covered under New York State workers’ compensation law, contact the Workers’ Compensation Board Monday thru Friday – 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM at (877) 632-4996.

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