Workers’ compensation laws vary from state to state, with many jurisdictions only requiring employers to carry coverage if they employ 50 or more workers. Whether you currently own and operate a business in Illinois or you plan to form one, you should understand your obligations so you do not accidentally violate the law. 

Illinois workers’ comp laws are stricter than most states. If you wonder whether you have to carry workers’ comp coverage, the answer is likely “yes,” you do. 

When do you have to carry workers’ comp insurance in Illinois?

The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission requires all businesses to insure almost everyone they hire against illness or injury. This is the case even if you only have one full-time or part-time employee. As a result, nearly the entire working population in the state — 91% — has protection through workers’ comp coverage. 

In all but two cases, employers must cover family members who work for a business. The state does not require a waiting period for coverage; employers must add new employees to a policy at the moment they decide to hire them. 

What are the consequences for failing to obtain coverage?

The consequences of failing to cover workers against injury or illness are steep. If you, as an employer, knowingly and deliberately fail to obtain coverage for your workers, you must pay $500 for every day you violate the law. The minimum fine you will pay is $10,000. 

In addition to fines, you face criminal charges. If you negligently fail to obtain coverage, the state may charge you with a Class A misdemeanor. If you knowingly fail to provide workers with coverage, the charge increases to a Class 4 felony. Moreover, if a worker sustains an injury on the job during the period in which you did not have coverage, he or she may sue you in civil court for the full amount of damages.