Usually workers compensation insurance centers around who is required to buy workers comp insurance and why. And — what happens to employers who fail to do so — they end up in jail, in law suits and pay huge fines. However, there are culturally religious groups who may be exempt from purchasing workers compensation insurance.
One of these groups is the Amish community. Largely an agrarian society, modern times force many Amish off their farms into the “real” world of industry and manufacturing. In Michigan, for example, many own woodworking companies providing services to others in the community at large (not only Amish).
As a community the Amish fought for and received an exemption from paying social security payroll taxes (for themselves and Amish employees) considering it to be an insurance plan for caring for the elderly, sick and infirmed. Their religious beliefs forbid them to participate in government welfare programs or the paying of insurance for benefits received. Instead they see caring for the older members of the community and other Amish in need, as a religious duty and, in fact, implement numerous methods to provide for needy members.
The same thinking holds true for buying insurance for workers compensation. Even when an Amish business carries workers comp insurance, it is usually never used as doing so would compromise religious belief. Many states such as New York, Ohio, Kentucky and Pennsylvania provide a “religious exemption” to the Amish from purchasing workers compensation insurance.
So, what happens if a workplace injury occurs? The Amish pay into a church-operated aid fund or, amazing thought – injured workers pay their own medical bills.
According to a recent article in the Philadelphia Inquirer, this workers comp exemption is causing a huge uproar in the construction and contracting business since the economy tanked. Non-Amish employers are claiming an “unfair” business advantage, citing the Amish’s ability to provide much lower bids. They say hiring the Amish is comparable to a company outsourcing work to another country.
On the other hand, Amish contractors say they provide a superior product in a very timely manner and experience high customer satisfaction with their work which of course is probably beside the point. In addition, it’s well known the Amish do not pay for all the “perks” of modern life.
Could it be said the main point is: Employers are required to purchase government provided Workers Compensation Insurance to insure injured workers receive care when a workplace injury occurs? Since the Amish community does pay into a fund to take care of their injured workers does not paying the government-mandated WC insurance really give them an advantage? (WCxKit)
Every business has its own unique costs of doing business. Employers must constantly review their workers comp usage, workplace safety, injury rates and return to work policies in addition to other factors designed to reduce their overall cost of doing business of which workers comp can be a huge cost if not properly managed. See: http://www.LowerWC.com for essential cost cutting tools.
Author Rebecca Shafer, JD, President of Amaxx Risks Solutions, Inc. is a national expert in the field of workers compensation. She is a writer, speaker, and Website publisher. Her expertise is working with employers to reduce workers’ compensation costs, and her clients include airlines, healthcare, printing/publishing, pharmaceuticals, retail, hospitality, and manufacturing. www.LowerWC.com
Contact: RShafer@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com or 860-553-6604.
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