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California Workers Compensation Laws

Workers compensation law, rule and policy information for the State of California

Related Pages:  More About California Rules

State:  California

Authority/Rating Bureau:  Workers Compensation Insurance Rating Bureau of California. The state of California operates its workers compensation system by its own rules. It does not use NCCI.

Workers' Compensation Insurance Rating Bureau of California
525 Market Street, Ste. 800
San Francisco, CA 94105-2716

Compulsory:  Yes

Private Insurance:  Allowed

Self-Insurance:  Allowed after meeting state requirements.

State Fund:  Employers can choose to secure workers compensation coverage from the State of California operated workers compensation fund or private insurers. Contact the state fund at:

State Compensation Insurance Fund (SCIF)
1275 Market Street
San Francisco, CA 94103
(415) 565-1234

Assigned Risk:  California State Compensation Insurance Fund

Assigned Risk Contact Information:  California State Fund ; Use this link to contact the California State Insurance Fund for Assigned Risk Plan, Pool or Residual Market coverage.

Numerical Exceptions:  California employers are required by law to have workers' compensation insurance, even if they have only one employee

Individual Waivers Allowed:  No waivers are permitted.

Sole Proprietor:  Excluded from coverage/may elect to be included. If included the rating payroll used is a minimum of $40,300 and a maximum of $104,000 per year as of 1-1-2012, $41,600/$106,600 as of 1-1-2013, $42,900/$109,200as of 1-1-2014, $44,200/$111,800 as of 1-1-2015, $45,500/$117,000 as of 1-1-2016.

Partners:  Are included in coverage. If included the rating payroll used is a minimum of $40,300 and a maximum of $104,000 per year as of 1-1-2012, $41,600/$106,600 as of 1-1-2013, $42,900/$109,200as of 1-1-2014, $44,200/$111,800 as of 1-1-2015, $45,500/$117,000 as of 1-1-2016.

Corporate Officers:  Corporate Officer inclusion/exclusion is a very confusing issue in California. Depending on who you talk with you will probably get a different answer. We reached out to multiple government agencies in California for clarification on this topic with no easy resolution. We researched this issue by reviewing California State Code 3351 (c) and California State Code 4151 (a) which is referred to in 3351 (c) and provide this information as an interpretation.

Here is the excerpt of California Labor Code Section 3351 (c):

  • "Employee" means every person in the service of an employer under any appointment or contract of hire or apprenticeship, express or implied, oral or written, whether lawfully or unlawfully employed, and includes:

    • (c) All officers and members of boards of directors of quasi-public or private corporations while rendering actual service for the corporations for pay; provided that, where the officers and directors of the private corporation are the sole shareholders thereof, the corporation and the officers and directors shall come under the compensation provisions of this division only by election as provided in subdivision (a) of Section 4151.
This basically says that corporate officers are included except for those that are the sole shareholders of the corporation who then come under the act only by election. At this point, you must learn what "by election as directed in 4151 (a)" means so you must read Section 4151 (a).

Here is the excerpt of California Labor Code Section 4151 (a):

  • Election on the part of the employer shall be made in one of the following ways:

    • (a) By insuring against liability for compensation, in which case he is deemed, as to all persons employed by him and covered by insurance, to have so elected during the period such insurance remains in force.
In other words corporate officers that are the sole shareholders automatically elect to come under the act when the corporation secures a policy.

In fact, you will find in California that special forms are available, from carriers like the State Fund, that allow officers and directors who are the sole shareholders of the corporation, to elect to be excluded from coverage.

Points to Consider:
  • 1) - Corporate Officers are included under the act if any other person outside of the officers and directors own shares in the corporation;

  • 2) - Corporate Officers, who are the sole shareholders of the corporation, elect to come under the act when the corporation secures a policy.

    • Only officers and directors of a closely held corporation, as referenced in number 2, may elect to be excluded from coverage by filing the proper forms with their insurance carrier.
We strongly suggest that you contact a California insurance professional or attorney with any questions you may have regarding the inclusion or exclusion of California corporate officers. For additional information on this topic you may also visit the California Department of Labor Division of Workers Compensation FAQ Section

When included, the rating payroll used for corporate officers is a minimum of $40,300 and a maximum of $104,000 per year as of 1-1-2012, $41,600/$106,600 as of 1-1-2013, $42,900/$109,200as of 1-1-2014, $44,200/$111,800 as of 1-1-2015, $45,500/$117,000 as of 1-1-2016.

LLC Members:  All working members are included in coverage. However according to California Labor Code Section 3351-(f) managing members of an LLC are excluded from coverage but may elect to be included. If included the rating payroll used is a minimum of $40,300 and a maximum of $104,000 per year as of 1-1-2012, $41,600/$106,600 as of 1-1-2013, $42,900/$109,200as of 1-1-2014, $44,200/$111,800 as of 1-1-2015, $45,500/$117,000 as of 1-1-2016.

Contractors:  Those who are not supervised by another are normally considered to be independent contractors and not employees for work comp consideration. Careful examination of the work status must be conducted to make a proper determination of employment status.

Special Notes:  NA

California Workers Compensation Subrogation:  Information about workers compensation subrogation for California can be found under Labor Code 3852. Here's a link we've provided for direct access to this code.

California Code - Workers Compensation Subrogation

California Workers In Other States; Other States Workers In California; Extraterritorial; Reciprocity; Non-Compliance:  When a California worker is working temporarily in another state, workers compensation coverage for that worker is governed by the extraterritorial provisions found in California statutes. When allowed, extraterritorial provisions allow benefits for an injured worker to apply as if the worker was in their primary state. Not all states provide Extraterritorial Provisions. Reciprocity governs coverage for a worker from another state who is working temporarily in California. Compliance of workers compensation laws varies from state to state and it is important for an employer with workers performing duties in other states to be aware of the specific state rules that govern their coverage. We've provided the below general information about extraterritorial and reciprocity as a basic guide. Please contact your state authority with your specific questions concerning this topic!

  • Extraterritorial: 
    • Provisions: Yes
    • Duration: Not Specified
  • Reciprocity: 
    • Allowed: Yes
  • Specific Statute:  3600.5;
  • For More Information Contact:  California Division of Workers Compensation as shown below

Regulated By: 

California Department of Insurance
Consumer Communications Bureau
300 South Spring Street, South Tower
Los Angeles, CA 90013

Division of Workers Compensation
Post Office Box 420603
San Francisco, California 94142

Workers Compensation Statute: 


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Information on this page is provided only as a reference. While we strive to mantain accurate information on this site please realize workers compensation laws are complicated and subject to change at any time. No warranty as to the accuracy or completeness of this information is provided or to be implied. You must verify this data before use with the individual governing authority for this state. If you need help with a workers compensation problem or have a specific situation or question please contact our office. Otherwise please consult your states governing authority or an attorney in your state of residency for assistance.

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Voice: (573) 489-8323
Fax: (573) 447-4998
email: rks@workcompconsultant.com

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