The WCA's Employer Compliance Bureau has the responsibility of investigating employer compliance with the mandatory provisions of the Workers' Compensation Act. In New Mexico, all businesses that employ three or more workers are required to carry workers' compensation insurance. There are some exceptions, however (see insurance coverage). Businesses with fewer than three employees may voluntarily apply for coverage.

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Insurance Compliance

The WCA is an enforcement as well as a regulatory agency. The Employer Compliance Bureau educates employers about coverage requirements, and about the benefits of carrying workers' compensation insurance. Workers' compensation insurance protects your business and your assets. If a business without coverage has an injured employee, the business could be sued in district court for negligence by the employee. Carrying workers' compensation insurance ensures any claims made for work injuries are determined through the workers' compensation system.

When employers required to carry workers' compensation insurance fail to present proof of coverage to the Employer Compliance Bureau or fail to come into compliance with the requirements of the law, the investigating compliance officer will refer the employer to the WCA's Enforcement Bureau. A hearing can then be held, and if insurance is not purchased, a temporary restraining order is issued and the business is shut down unless insurance is obtained. A hearing is not always necessary for a TRO. If workers are at risk, an emergency injunction can be sought.

The bureau's compliance officers can answer questions on whether insurance is necessary for the business, what makes an independent contractor, and other questions and concerns. Contact the Employer Compliance Bureau at (505) 841-6851.

Workers whose employers are found to be illegally uninsured may apply to the New Mexico Uninsured Employers' Fund. When workers receive medical and/or indemnity benefits from the fund, their employers must reimburse the fund. Employers may also be penalized with fines. Find out more about the Uninsured Employers' Fund.

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Farm and Ranch

Agricultural employers with three or more employees are required to carry workers' compensation insurance. The New Mexico Supreme Court ruled on June 30, 2016, that the agricultural labor exclusion from the Workers' Compensation Act is unconstitutional, thus this industry now is subject to the same requirements as others in New Mexico.

When counting employees, part-time, temporary or seasonal workers are included in the count. Farms and ranches sometimes have family members and neighbors help with duties. In the New Mexico Supreme Court decision, language indicates that if a family member or neighbor is paid wages, they may be counted as an employee.

For more information about the requirements for agricultural worker coverage and which workers are considered exceptions for coverage, see the Agricultural FAQs. For clarification, please contact the employer compliance bureau with questions and concerns at (505) 841-6851.

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