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Amish & Workers Compensation

Discussion of the exclusion of Amish workers in several states WC systems.

Agreement with Workers Compensation Board of Indiana
The Board and Amish business owners have reached an Agreement effective January 1, 2008 where Amish owned businesses may provide medical treatment and compensation to injured Amish workers. Amish employers may elect to participate in a voluntary mutual aid plan titled “Small Business Aid” (SBA). 
 
Please refer to these documents for more information:

 

Summary in Decision Table Format 

 
If the employer is Amish and…
Then…
Employs Amish workers
Amish workers may be covered by the SBA
Employs non-Amish workers
Non-Amish workers must be covered by a WC policy
 
If the employer is non-Amish and…
Then…
Employs Amish workers
Amish workers must be covered by a WC policy
Employs non-Amish workers
Non-Amish workers must be covered by a WC policy
 
 

Confirm Small Business Aid Enrollment

The WC Board of Indiana maintains a list on its website to confirm if an Amish employer is registered with the Amish Small Business Aid Fund, and therefore, if its Amish employees are excluded from the Indiana WC Act.

 

The list is located on the WC Board webpage titled "Self-Insured Employers". It is updated about twice a year around March and October. Here is an excerpt from that page as of 06/25/14:

 

Self-Insured Employers
Lists
  

The WC Board contact is:

Mary Taivalkoski, Executive Administrator

(317) 232-3811

mtaivalkoski@wcb.in.gov

 
The Board can also issue a Certificate of Compliance stating that the the employer is a member in good standing with the SBA.
 
 

Assigned Risk Application Processing

Here is the information the ICRB needs to process an application for an employer covering the non-Amish employees:

  1. List of the employees (Amish & non-Amish)
  2. Evidence that the employer has joined the Amish Small Business Aid (SBA)
  3. We inform the carrier the application is for an Amish business with excluded Amish employees
  4. The carrier should attach endorsement WC 00 03 08 (Partners, Officers and Others Exclusion Endorsement) and insert wording to identify the excluded workers such as “Amish employees covered under the Amish Small Business Aid”.
 
States with Law Exemptions
States vary in their laws to exempt Amish or Mennonite workers from workers compensation statutes. KentuckyMissouriOhio (2003), and Pennsylvania have exemptions for employees of a "recognized religious sect."

In Ohio, the workers compensation exemption was passed in 2003. The exemption requires groups to have been a recognized religion since December 1950 and to have had a church program to cover members' insurance needs for "a substantial" number of years.
 
The Amish seek such exemptions because filing a claim is against religious beliefs. They believe that filing an insurance claim goes against Biblical principles of trusting in God and personal responsibility. Apparently, church members pay into a separate church aid fund to cover the cost of accidents.

Arguments for not granting an exemption:
  • Exemption creates an unfair competitive advantage for employers that are exempt compared to other employers who have to buy insurance
  • Can the church guarantee financial assistance, especially in a catastrophe?
  • Secular versus nonsecular issue, with the government trying to regulate something with someone's religion
  • Unconstitutional as a violation of separation of church and state
Arguments for granting an exemption:
  • Unfair to pay workers compensation premium if benefits will never be sought
  • Federal law exempts the Amish from paying into Social Security

Certificate of Brotherly Aid
In May 2007, an Indiana agent provided us with a copy of a document titled "Certificate of Brotherly Aid" which apparently was sought to serve as a substitute for a certificate of insurance. It was issued by "The Old Order Amish Product Liability Aid" in Lancaster, PA and New Holland, PA. The document reads:

"This is to certify that in case of a default or claim caused by secured member listed below. The member is obligated to make self settlement, but can expect help from Church Alms or reimbursement payment from Church Aid after satisfactory settlement. This certificate is issued as a matter of information only and confers no rights upon the certificate holder."
The Indiana DOI issued a Bulletin 208 on the subject dated June 4, 2014.


More Information
Amish Studies is an academic website developed by the Young Center for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies at Elizabethtown College (Pa.) to provide reliable information on Amish life and culture.

As of January, 2017, the site indicates that the states with the largest populations of Amish are:

  • OH  72,495
  • PA  70,890
  • IN   51,660

About 308,000 Amish adults and children live in North America.

Also refer to an article in the September-October 2010 edition of INContext online publication titled "Amish in Indiana and the United States".

 

 

Related Files

The material in this document has been prepared and shared for informational purposes only and should not be relied upon as legal advice on any particular situation.