Workers' compensation laws exist to protect employees who are injured while in the service of their employers. Homeowners, who are not otherwise deemed to be employers with regard to business activities, may find themselves subject to the Connecticut Workers' Compensation Law. Homeowners have a nonbusiness exposure for both domestic employees subject to the Workers' Compensation Law and domestic employees subject to tort law. Subject employment A homeowner must insure its obligations under the Workers' Compensation Law to provide benefits to injured domestic employees when they are employed by the homeowner for more than 26 hours per week on a regular basis. A domestic employee may fall into such worker categories as chauffeurs, nannies, au pairs, babysitters, maids, cooks, housekeepers, laundry workers, butlers, companions and gardeners. To satisfy the obligation to compensate the employee with statutory benefits should an injury occur, a standard workers' compensation policy will need to be purchased, unless the homeowners policy is specifically endorsed to provide this coverage (which is very unusual).
Some homeowners decide that they want to voluntarily protect employees who work 26 or fewer hours per week with benefits available under the Workers' Compensation Law. Again, this is possible with the purchase of a standard workers' compensation policy.
Prior to July 1, 2007, domestic workers were classified for rating purposes as either inside (Code 0913), outside (Code 0912), occasional inside (Code 0908) or occasional outside (Code 0909). Effective July 1, 2007, the inside and outside classifications are consolidated into single classifications; Code 0913 for workers employed more than 26 hours per week and Code 0908 workers employed 26 or fewer hours per week.
The basis for rating is not payroll, but the number of persons employed. Since domestic employers may voluntarily insure employees not subject to the law, an occasional classification is available to accommodate the diminished exposure represented by less time spent on the job. The hours worked by all occasional employees will be totaled for rating purposes; with a per-person charge for each 26 hours worked, including an additional per-person charge for the remainder hours, if any.
The Jan. 1, 2015, Connecticut Workers' Compensation Insurance Plan rates are as follows:
0913—$1,242 per person, $1,250 minimum premium; and 0908—$307 per person, $432 minimum premium.
Minors Connecticut and the federal government have extensive labor laws which govern the employment of minors. The Connecticut Department of Labor publishes a convenient brochure titled Checklist for the Employment of Minors. It may be obtained free-of-charge by writing to: Connecticut Department of Labor, Wage & Workplace Standards Division, 200 Folly Brook Blvd., Wethersfield, Conn. 06109-1114, or by telephone: (860) 263-6791. This brochure, and other information involving the hiring of minors, is available online at: http://www.ctdol.state.ct.us/wgwkstnd/employminors.htm.
Most homeowners would be surprised to discover that federal law prohibits minors under 16 from operating power-driven machinery, including lawn mowers. Connecticut 's Labor Law does not have a restriction on a minor's use of lawn mowers, unless it is a riding reel lawn mower. Nevertheless, the more restrictive federal law would apply. Your advice to homeowners should be to avoid hiring minors under age 16 to mow their lawns.
Employers liability If the household employment does not involve domestic employees working more than 26 hours per week, then an injured employee who is not protected by the Workers' Compensation Law would retain the common law right to sue for injury damages. Though a judgment against the homeowner may include general (pain and suffering) damages, the outcome for the worker is much less certain than compensation under the Workers' Compensation Law. To prevail in a suit, the worker must overcome certain defenses available to the employer, proving that some wrong was committed against the worker.
A homeowner's employment of baby-sitters, painters, landscapers, caterers, house cleaners and various other types of casual employment creates the possibility of a lawsuit. Section II—Liability Coverages of a homeowners policy will provide defense against such a lawsuit as long as it is not related to a business activity; in which case it would necessitate the purchase of a standard workers' compensation policy. 12/14