Domestic Servant Exemption

Workers' compensation coverage for domestic servants is limited. Such limitation is generally based on the exclusion for part-time employees or the statutory exemption for employers with less than the requisite minimum number of employees. Many states specifically exclude domestic servants from workers' compensation coverage. Others omit to place domestic servants on the list of covered employments. However, almost half of the states provide at least a measure of coverage for those employed as domestic servants.

To determine whether an individual is engaged as a domestic servant, courts generally look through the non-business exemption prism. Basically, the line of demarcation between coverage and no coverage appears to be whether the duties of the domestic servant are undertaken as part of the usual business of the employer, i.e. that "business" which comprises the employer's livelihood. By way of contrast, consider the maid in a hotel and a maid hired to clean windows at a private residence. Both individuals may be performing the same or similar tasks. However, only the hotel maid is engaged in the employer's business. Further, to be engaged as a domestic servant requires that the individual's duties consist of household chores. Thus, the registered nurse hired to care for an elderly patient in his home would not qualify as a "domestic servant."

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