Explainer: Who is NOT Covered by New York’s Workers’ Compensation Law?

Almost all workers in New York are covered by the Workers’ Compensation Law. of course, for every broad generalization like that one, there are exceptions. What are the exceptions to coverage requirements under New York’s law? Generally, see § 3 of the Workers’ Compensation Law. Here’s a non-exclusive list of some of the most commonly-excepted employments in New York:

  • Independent contractors.
  • Individuals who volunteer their services for nonprofit organizations and receive no compensation.1
  • Clergy and members of religious orders.
  • Members of supervised amateur athletic activities operated on a nonprofit basis (i.e., Little League coaches, etc.).
  • People engaged in a teaching capacity in or for a nonprofit religious, charitable or educational institution (Section 501(c)(3) under the IRS tax code).
  • People engaged in a non-manual capacity in or for a nonprofit religious, charitable or educational institution (Section 501(c)(3) under the IRS tax code).
  • Persons receiving charitable aid from a religious or charitable institution who perform work in return for such aid and who are not under any express contract of hire and sheltered workshop workers. New York Mental Hygiene Law § 33.09.
  • People who are covered for specific types of employment under another workers’ compensation system (such as maritime trades, interstate railroad employees, federal government employees and others covered under federal workers’ compensation laws).
  • Farmers’ spouses and minor children (under 18 years old).
  • Employees of foreign governments and Native American Nations.
  • New York City police officers, firefighters, and sanitation workers who are covered under provisions of the New York State General Municipal Law. Uniformed police officers and firefighters in other municipalities may also be excluded.
  • People, including minors, doing yard work or casual chores in and about a one-family, owner-occupied residence or the premises of a nonprofit, noncommercial organization. “Casual” means occasional.
  • Certain real estate salespersons who sign a contract with a broker stating that they are independent contractors. WCL § 2 (4)
  • Certain media sales representatives who sign a contract stating that they are independent contractors. WCL § 2 (4)
  • Certain insurance agents or brokers who sign a contract stating that they are independent contractors. WCL § 2 (4)
  • Sole proprietors, partners, and certain one/two person corporate officers with no other individuals providing services integral to the business (although coverage may be obtained voluntarily).

Greg Lois is the managing partner of LOIS LLC, a 21-attorney law firm dedicated to defending employers and carriers in New York and New Jersey workers' compensation claims. Greg is the author of a popular series of "Handbooks" on workers' compensation, and is the co-author of the 2016 & 2017 Lexis-Nexis New Jersey Workers' Compensation Practice Guide. Greg can be reached at 201-880-7213 or glois@lois-llc.com