Medical bills are expensive and so is missing paychecks for health reasons. Luckily, Ohio requires your employer to pay for your medical care and lost wages while you’re recuperating from a job-related injury or illness. Or does it?

If you’re paying medical bills you think your job should be paying, or you’re working a dangerous job and worried about injuries, or you’d like to be your own boss and start a business, you’ll need to know the basics of insuring buckeyes for workers’ compensation.

Almost every employee must be covered

If they have even one employee, your employer must cover them through Ohio’s workers’ compensation system. It’s almost that simple. There are a few important exceptions, the most notable being the self-employed. They can typically elect to cover themselves or not.

Independent contractors and other exceptions

An independent contractor, for example, is considered to be one of those self-employed workers and will almost certainly not be covered by companies who pay them for work done.

However, whether you’re really an independent contractor or legally should be an employee depends on the facts of your contract, not on the boss’s opinion. Some companies try to dodge expenses, including worker’s comp insurance, by misclassifying workers as contractors instead of the employees that they are in practice.

Other examples of self-employed people who don’t have to be covered are most sole proprietors, essentially meaning people who are the only owner of a business.

Farmers and ministers often able to opt out

An incorporated family farm may be able to opt out of workers’ comp, but the requirements are tight and specific.

For example, over 50% of the shareholders of the farm corporation have to be “related within the fourth degree of kinship.” to opt out. This means great uncles and first cousins, but too many second cousin investors may mean the board has to buy itself workers’ compensation insurance.

Religious organizations such as churches are required to cover their employees just like any other business but may choose not to cover ordained ministers or associate ministers who work for them. If those ministers are injured on the job, they may have to make other arrangements.