Work for a Small Businesses? You Should Likely Receive Workers’ Compensation

There are some instances where small businesses do not have to provide workers’ compensation, which are detailed below in the article.

Pennsylvania is home to many small businesses who employ nearly half of all employees in the state. As organizations struggle in the challenging business environment today, some Pennsylvania small business owners may try to save money by skipping a critical legal requirement – providing workers’ compensation insurance for their employees – resulting in criminal prosecution by the State and lawsuits from employees.

If you work for a small business in Pennsylvania that does not provide workers’ compensation and you have been injured on the job, contact Lepley, Engelman, Yaw and Wilk, LLC right away. We will help to guide you through the complicated legal process to receive the compensation you need for medical care, coverage, lost wages and more.

Small Businesses and Workers’ Compensation

There are more than 1.1 million small businesses in the state of Pennsylvania. Small businesses comprise 99.6 percent of Pennsylvania businesses and employ more than 2.5 million employees – more than 46 percent of all employees in Pennsylvania.

For most of these small business employers, workers’ compensation is mandatory under Pennsylvania law. Workers’ compensation is an employer-financed, no-fault insurance that benefits both employees and employers.

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry, “The workers’ compensation system protects employees and employers. Employees receive medical treatment and are compensated for lost wages associated with work-related injuries and disease, and employers provide for the cost of such coverage while being protected from direct lawsuits by employees.”

This includes any individuals that are considered employees, from part-time employees to family members. Any person that is on a small business’ payroll must be covered with Pennsylvania workers’ compensation insurance.

Workers’ compensation coverage in Pennsylvania begins on the first day of employment and continues throughout the entire period of employment. The workers’ compensation coverage provided by small business employers cannot be contingent on an employee’s previous physical condition. If a prior injury or disease is exacerbated by conditions of the job or at the employer’s facility, a small business’ workers’ compensation coverage would be required to cover those issues.

Exemptions to the Workers’ Compensation Requirement

There are some Pennsylvania small businesses that are exempted from providing Pennsylvania workers’ compensation coverage. These include:

  • Those covered under other workers’ compensation acts—like railroad workers, longshoremen and federal employees;
  • Sole proprietors;
  • Domestic servants;
  • Casual workers who provide sporadic work duties without a commitment to continued employment;
  • Agricultural workers who work for fewer than 30 days or earn less than $1,200 from the employer;
  • Those elected to be exempt due to their executive status, such as owners, business partners or executive officers or due to religious exemption requests.

Penalties for Small Businesses Without Workers’ Compensation

For small businesses in Pennsylvania who do not enroll in workers’ compensation, there can be significant civil and criminal risks and penalties.

If a Pennsylvania small business is uninsured for workers’ compensation when an employee has a compensable work-related injury or illness, the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry will prosecute the employer and pursue reimbursement from the small business.

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry, uninsured small businesses can receive misdemeanor or felony convictions for a lack of continued workers’ compensation insurance. Misdemeanor convictions can levy a $2,500 fine and up to one year of imprisonment for each day the small business did not maintain continuous workers’ compensation coverage. Felony convictions can result in a $15,000 fine and up to seven years of imprisonment for each day the employer intentionally did not offer workers’ compensation. The workers’ compensation judge may also require the small business to pay all benefits awarded.

Additionally, the employee can sue the small business for the injury or disease, as well as for additional compensation.

Any individual or competitor can also seek to file private criminal complaints against small businesses who do not offer or maintain workers’ compensation for their employees.

What to do if You Have Been Injured and Your Small Business Employer does not Offer Workers’ Comp

If you have been injured or contracted an illness on the job at a small business in Pennsylvania and your employer does not offer workers’ compensation, contact an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer in Pennsylvania, like Lepley, Engelman, Yaw and Wilk, LLC right away. Our experienced attorneys know how to navigate the system and will fight to obtain the compensation and rights you deserve.

These other steps will help if you have suffered an injury at work:

  • Immediately notify your workplace of your injury, so they cannot say the injury happened over the weekend or on off hours. At small businesses offering workers’ compensation, you can receive benefits from the date you were injured, but only if it is reported within 21 days of the injury.
  • Seek medical treatment right away and let the medical provide know you were injured on-the-job. The objective medical perspective of a physician and the documentation of your injury can make a strong statement in legal cases. The injury or illness must require medical treatment beyond just basic first aid.
  • Document what happened, who witnessed the accident, dates, affected areas, limitations and the medical treatment you received.

Call Lepley, Engelman, Yaw & Wilk, LLC – Your Trusted Workers’ Compensation Lawyer

We would be honored to work with you to obtain the workers’ compensation benefits that you deserve as an employee at a small business in Pennsylvania. The experienced, award-winning workers’ compensation lawyers at Lepley, Engelman, Yaw & Wilk, LLC have fought and won many cases for our clients.

Douglas Engleman has more than 40 years of experience in workers’ compensation law. His legal practice focuses on personal injury and civil litigation, including workers’ compensation law. Workers’ compensation lawyer Douglas Engelman has represented thousands of victims across Pennsylvania.

David Wilk is an award-winning, experienced workers’ compensation lawyer. His background of litigating personal injury cases for insurance companies before he joined Lepley, Engelman, Yaw & Wilk, LLC provides Attorney Wilk with unique and compelling insight into the process as he handles workers’ compensation cases for clients.

Gary Black has practiced workers’ compensation law with great success for more than 30 years. He has handled hundreds of cases before workers’ compensation judges and is a long-standing member of the Workers’ Compensation section of the Pennsylvania Bar Association.

Contact us today by calling our offices at the numbers below.


140 East Third Street, Williamsport (570) 323-3768
320 Market Street, Lewisburg (570) 522-0505
Northern Tier Pennsylvania (570) 673-4081
(800) 422-5396
Contact us today!