Legal Question in Construction Law in California

workmen comp excemptions

if you hire helpers as independent and 1099 them do you need insurance

Asked on 4/22/09, 9:58 pm

2 Answers from Attorneys

David Gibbs The Gibbs Law Firm, APC

Re: workmen comp excemptions

You did not mention if you are a contractor, or a homeowner. In either case, unless the "helpers" are licensed sub-contractors or contractors, you had better have worker's compensation coverage for them, or you run the risk of being nailed by EDD in the event of even the smallest injury. Further, if they are not licensed sub-contractors, then you have a second problem. They are not in any way, shape or form independent contractors (call EDD to verify), and you can be hit a second time for paying their withholding and other wage-related expenses. This will be above-and-beyond whatever you pay them. You will be responsible for both sides (employer and employee) of the employment taxes. I have to strongly discourage you from pursuing this unless you are willing to withhold taxes, pay employment taxes, and get a workman's comp policy for them.

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Answered on 4/23/09, 1:07 pm
Bryan Whipple Bryan R. R. Whipple, Attorney at Law

Re: workmen comp excemptions

Well, someone needs insurance. Bona fide independent contractors usually are expected to provide their own insurance, but it is the responsibility of the party retaining them to make sure that they are covered, or to provide coverage.

If the "independent" helpers don't have their own worker's comp. insurance, or can genuinely claim a proprietor's exemption, they probably aren't really independent contractors and are really employees.

If I were you, I would either cover them under my own policy or require them to provide proof of coverage or a recognized exemption. Don't risk your business on the say-so of flaky, fly-by-night so-called independent contractors who are probably nothing more than part-time casual labor in the eyes of the law. You can get burned bad; it isn't worth it in the long run. The insurance is to protect you - don't lose sight of that.

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Answered on 4/23/09, 12:09 am

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