New Tennessee Workers’ Comp Exemption Law Takes Effect

October 13, 2011

More people are now eligible to claim exemptions from workers’ compensation in Tennessee as a result of a new law that took effect this month.

The law expands eligibility for people who can apply for and be listed on the Workers’ Compensation Exemption Registry, which is administered by the Secretary of State.

The expanded eligibility requirements are a result of the General Assembly’s passage of SB 1550, which was signed into law as Public Chapter 422 in June.

Secretary of State Tre Hargett said he is “sure there are a number of business owners who will take advantage of the expanded eligibility for exemptions that was created by the new law.”

The changes to the law allow business owners in the construction services industry to opt out of the requirement to cover themselves with workers’ compensation insurance if they meet certain ownership requirements. The new law increases from three to five the number of business owners of a corporation, limited liability company or partnership that can qualify for the workers’ compensation exemption.

Each applicant must hold at least a 20 percent ownership in the business to qualify for an exemption. An applicant may also qualify for the exemption if the applicant is an owner in a family-owned business, regardless of the percentage of ownership. A sole proprietor may also apply for the exemption if he or she owns 100 percent of a business’ assets.

The filing fee for an initial workers’ compensation exemption registration is $200 for a person who does not have an active license issued by the State Board for Licensing Contractors and $100 for a person who already has an active license issued by the State Board for Licensing Contractors.

The new law also allows a person to qualify for a subsequent workers’ compensation exemption that is associated with another business as long as business ownership requirements are met. Business owners can qualify for an unlimited number of subsequent exemption registrations as long as they meet the qualifications for each registration for which they apply. The filing fee for each subsequent workers’ compensation exemption registration is $20.

Applications may be completed and submitted online at or at the Tennessee Department of State in downtown Nashville. Hargett said applicants who qualify and who submit their applications online will receive instant confirmation of their exemptions. Applications submitted in person or by mail will be processed in 10 or fewer business days from the date the application is received.

Latest Comments

  • August 18, 2012 at 9:30 pm
    snev buttryuk says:
    So one guy can't be a business is what you are saying? Is this so you can continue to abuse workers for $8.00 an hour? Live and let live for goodness sake!
  • October 13, 2011 at 3:17 pm
    OmniSure says:
    Work comp within the TN construction industry is DEAD. This is a BOOM for small bussiness (5 "Parnters/Officers/Onwers") all EXEMPTABLE. 5 exempted business owners can do a LO... read more
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