Wisconsin Worker's Compensation Insurance Requirements

Nearly all employers in Wisconsin are covered. This includes both public and private employers. In fact, when talking about worker's compensation, it is easier to discuss the exceptions. There are a few classes of workers who are covered by federal laws and are not covered by the Wisconsin Worker's Compensation Act (Act). Employees of the federal government (such as postal workers, employees at a veteran's 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 Merchant Marine Act of 1920, and people loading and unloading vessels are covered by the Longshoremen's and Harbor Worker's Compensation Act.

The law mandates compensation insurance for:

  • Any employer who usually employs three or more persons full- or part-time. This employer needs insurance immediately.
  • Any employer who 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 or the first month of the next calendar quarter.
  • Anyone engaged in farming who employs 6 or more employees (at one or more locations) on the same day for 20 days (consecutive or nonconsecutive) during a calendar year. A calendar year is January through December. The farmer must have insurance within 10 days after the 20th day of employment. Some relatives of the farmer are not counted as employees.

(Sections 102.04 and 102.07, Wis. Stat.)

Wisconsin law requires that a subject employer with employees working in Wisconsin must have a worker's compensation insurance policy with an insurance company licensed to write worker's compensation insurance in Wisconsin.

Each individual employer must provide a worker's compensation insurance policy for its employees. One employer cannot provide worker's compensation insurance coverage for another employer's employees even where or whether or not they voluntarily sign a contract to provide the coverage. Every employer, as described in s. 102.04 (1), Wis. Stat., is required under s. 102.28 (2), Wis. Stat., to have a worker's compensation insurance policy in the name of the employer/owner or in the name of the business entity.

An employer subject to the Act may not withhold or collect any money from employees or any other person, including independent contractors and subcontractors, to pay for worker's compensation insurance. To do so is illegal. Also, no agreement by an employer waiving rights to compensation is valid. [s. 102.16 (3) and (5), Wis. Stat.]