Many Maryland households hire people to work in their homes like babysitters, nannies, cooks, housekeepers, house cleaners and other household workers. These employers may not know that many domestic workers are covered by state workers’ compensation law — and many domestic workers themselves may not know that they have the right to workers’ compensation benefits for injuries that arise out of and in the course of their employment, regardless of who is at fault for the harm.
These benefits may include payment of medical bills and for lost wages.
Whether a domestic worker is covered by workers’ compensation is a question of state law and the states vary widely on the subject.
Maryland domestic workers
Maryland statute says that anyone “employed as a domestic worker in a private home” is a covered employee “with respect to a household” if he or she earns cash of at least $1,000 in a calendar quarter within that household. (Historically, in 1996, the quarterly minimum was raised to $750 from $250, followed by an increase to the current threshold of $1,000 in 2007.)
If a household worker were a covered employee, the household employer would be required under state law to get workers’ compensation insurance or get permission to be self-insured.
With narrow exception related to federal law, if a domestic worker at least 16 years old does not meet the quarterly $1,000 threshold, the household employer and the worker may enter into an agreement that they elect for the person to be covered. For a domestic worker under 16, a parent or guardian may make this election for them.
Talk to a lawyer
When a domestic worker is injured on the job, he or she should speak with a workers’ compensation attorney about whether workers’ compensation applies to their situation and how to secure those benefits.