Workers Compensation Tips For Dance Studios And Small Dance Companies

Most major dance companies have legal departments or boards of directors to help manage issues dealing with employee workplace injuries. But if you run a dance studio or a small company, the onus may fall on you personally to figure out what you need to protect your business. Here's a look at workers compensation in the dance world, with a few pointers to get you started.

Workers Compensation Basics

Workers compensation covers lost wages and medical bills if one of your employees is injured while on the job and needs to take time off to recuperate. Workers compensation rules vary from state to state; your state may require you to purchase workers compensation insurance. There are insurance providers that specialize in the performing arts that are familiar with the inherent risks involved.

Workers compensation insurance should be carried for all employees on your payroll to whom a W2 form is issued. Your premiums are calculated by a number of factors, including primarily the type of work being performed (known in insurance parlance as "class codes") and whether you have made previous workers compensation claims in the past (indicating that your workplace is at greater risk for future claims).

When you purchase a workers compensation policy, you should have the following information on hand

  • the type of business you own or run
  • the number of employees being covered
  • your payroll information for all employees being covered
  • details about any past workers compensation claims
  • your Federal Employer Identification Number or Social Security Number
  • information about past policies you have had

More About Workers Compensation

In addition to purchasing workers compensation insurance for any worker who is on your payroll, you need to purchase it for every state in which they are working. That means if your studio is in Indiana but you send an instructor to teach every week in Chicago, you also need to purchase an Illinois policy.

You also need to make sure you are covering employees for all the jobs they perform. Dance enterprises are notorious for employees wearing a lot of hats, so you may have to cover more than one duty per employee.

Your workers compensation can cover many of the costs if an employee sues you over an injury. It may pay to speak with a personal injury attorney that specializes in slip and fall and repetitive use injuries. They can advise you about what kind of coverage would best protect you in this instance.

You may be wise to have additional coverage, such as "errors and omissions" (for failure to provide instruction about something that leads to an injury), Inland Marine (for movable property, like ballet barres, sound systems, and portable dance floors), and volunteer accident (for volunteers in rehearsals and backstage, for example).

Tips to Reduce Risk of Claims

The best way to manage your workers compensation claims is to not have them in the first place. Some ways you can do this include:

  • Provide proper sprung wood flooring in your studio and rehearsal spaces and demand it where you perform (like big company unions do).
  • Don't ask dancers to do strenuous things so many times that they risk repetitive motion injuries.
  • Be careful about lifting and carrying injuries (for both non-dancing tasks and male dancers who lift their partners).
  • Encourage strength training and conditioning outside the dance classroom so dancers have less risk of injury overall.

While no one wants to think about injuries in their workplace, they do sometimes happen. By being prepared with workers compensation insurance, you protect yourself and your employees. While those premiums may cost hundreds of dollars, they may save you tens of thousands in the long run.

For more info, speak to experienced attorneys like Marzella RJ & Associates.