An Act To Improve the Workers' Compensation System
Sec. 1. 39-A MRSA §154, sub-§6, ¶A, as amended by PL 2009, c. 109, §1 and affected by §2, is further amended to read:
Sec. 2. 39-A MRSA §322, sub-§1, as amended by PL 2015, c. 297, §17, is further amended to read:
Sec. 3. 39-A MRSA §324, sub-§3, as amended by PL 2011, c. 113, Pt. B, §20, is further amended to read:
For purposes of this subsection, a violation is considered a knowing violation if the employer has previously obtained workers' compensation insurance and that insurance has been cancelled or that insurance has not been continued or renewed, unless the cancellation, failure to continue or nonrenewal is due to a substantial change in the employer's operations that is unrelated to the classification of individuals as employees or independent contractors; the employer has been notified in writing by the board of the need for workers' compensation insurance; the employer has had one or more previous violations of the requirement to secure the payment of the compensation provided for by this Act; or the employer misclassifies an employee as an independent contractor despite a contrary determination by the board.
Prosecution under paragraph A does not preclude action under paragraph B or C.
If the employer is a corporation, partnership, limited liability company, professional corporation or any other legal business entity recognized under the laws of the State, any agent of the corporation or legal business entity having primary responsibility for obtaining insurance coverage is liable for punishment under this section. Criminal liability must be determined in conformity with Title 17-A, sections 60 and 61.
Sec. 4. 39-A MRSA §401, sub-§1, as amended by PL 2013, c. 87, §1, is further amended to read:
A private employer who has not secured the payment of compensation under this section and sections 402 to 407 by purchasing a workers' compensation policy or self-insuring as set forth in section 403 is not entitled, in a civil action brought by an employee or the employee's representative for personal injuries or death arising out of and in the course of employment, to the defense set forth in section 103. The employee of any such employer may, instead of bringing a civil action, claim compensation from the employer under this Act.
The following employers are not liable under this section for securing the payment of compensation in conformity with this section and sections 402 to 407 by purchasing a workers' compensation policy or self-insuring as set forth in section 403 with respect to the employees listed, nor deprived of the defenses listed in section 103:
(1) As used in this subsection, "casual" means occasional or incidental. "Seasonal" refers to laborers engaged in agricultural or aquacultural employment beginning at or after the commencement of the planting or seeding season and ending at or before the completion of the harvest season; and
(1) The employer has 6 or fewer concurrently employed agricultural or aquacultural laborers; or
(2) The employer has more than 6 agricultural or aquacultural laborers but the total number of hours worked by all such laborers in a week does not exceed 240 and has not exceeded 240 at any time during the 52 weeks immediately preceding an injury.
For purposes of this paragraph, seasonal and casual workers, immediate family members of unincorporated employers and immediate family members of bona fide owners of at least 20% of the voting stock of an incorporated employer are not considered agricultural or aquacultural laborers. "Immediate family members" means parents, spouses, brothers, sisters and children and the spouses of parents, brothers, sisters and children.
The burden of proof to establish an exempt status under this subsection is on the employer claiming the exemption.
Sec. 5. 39-A MRSA §401, sub-§2, as enacted by PL 1991, c. 885, Pt. A, §8 and affected by §§9 to 11, is amended to read:
Sec. 6. 39-A MRSA §401, sub-§3, as amended by PL 1999, c. 364, §5, is further amended to read:
Sec. 7. 39-A MRSA §407, as enacted by PL 1991, c. 885, Pt. A, §8 and affected by §§9 to 11, is amended to read:
§ 407. Preservation of existing employer status
An employer with a currently approved workers' compensation policy or a currently accepted self-insurance workers' compensation policy under sections 401 to 407 is deemed to be in compliance with this Act until the expiration or cancellation date of the current assent based on the policy or plan that has misclassified one or more employees has failed to secure payment of compensation within the meaning of section 324, subsection 3 and is subject to the penalties prescribed by that section.
Sec. 8. Report. By January 15, 2017, the Workers' Compensation Board shall study the independent contractor predetermination provisions of the Maine Revised Statutes, Title 39-A and report to the joint standing committee of the Legislature having jurisdiction over labor matters any recommended legislation related to those provisions. The committee may report out a bill relating to the report to the First Regular Session of the 128th Legislature.