If you operate a small farm or livestock operation in Nebraska, you are probably used tobeing exempt from providing worker’s compensation coverage to your employees. But in 2003, the Nebraska legislature changed the law. Although most small producers continue to be exempt under the 2003 amendments, the law imposes certain requirements that must be followed in order to keep exempt status.

In particular, producers who only employ relatives, or employ less than ten full-time, non-related employees, can typically avoid worker’s compensation liability if – and ONLY if – they provide employees with the following written notice:

In this employment you will not be covered by the Nebraska Workers’ Compensation Act and you will not be compensated under the act if you are injured on the job or suffer an occupational disease. You should plan accordingly.

This notice should be given to all non-family employees at the time of hiring. However, the producer is still protected so long as he gives this notice to his employees more than thirty (30) days before the date the employee is injured.

To be effective, the notice:

 must be given to all employees who are not related to the producer;
 must be in writing;
 must be signed by the employee; and
 the producer must keep the signed notice in his/her records for the entire time the employee works for him/her.

If the producer meets each and every one of these requirements, he/she likely will not have to provide worker’s compensation benefits to employees who are injured on the job.

The repercussions for failing to meet with these requirements is covered in Part II.

Cathy Trent-Vilim

(About the Author: Cathy Trent-Vilim is an attorney at Lamson, Dugan & Murray.  Cathy has experience handling agriculture related litigation including issues regarding crop insurance, worker’s compensation, and anhydrous ammonia leaks.)