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Cut-Rite2
12-11-2005, 05:29 PM
I just started my lawn mowing service last April and so far have 25 regular customers. I had 30 but 2 moved, I got rid of 2 and the last one did not renew. My question is about hiring employees and workers comp. I can't really afford the $3500 or so to get workers comp., but I want to expand my business. To do that, I need a helper. Is anyone familiar with Florida law regarding employees for an LCO business? I heard somewhere an LCO doesn't need comp. for the 1st 2 employees.

Would I be able to have an employee or 2 without having the comp. insurance?
Would I be open to some kind of liability without it?
Can I hire someone as an "Independant Contractor" and let them pay their own taxes?
Is this arrangement advisable to someone in my position?
If not here, where can I get more advice on this subject?

Thanks in advance,

Noel

Fantasy Lawns
12-12-2005, 06:06 PM
http://www.workerscompensation.com/florida/htdocs/index.php3?SCREEN=department&sid=&department=22

Good Info Site

You do not need WC in FL with less than 3 employees

Does not mean that some or hopefully most commercial bids require WC for all contractors

As an officer of my S corp I am "exempt"

The 9102 Park NOC code is set by the state .....it's a standard .... with reductions in the rate ....given on past record .... experience mod fator (takes bout 5 years with out an "event") .... drug testing .... training programs

In FL the WC cost is about $82 dollars on every $1000 of payroll (3 years ago it was almost $130)

I use Professional Insurance Underwriters out of Orlando

Cut-Rite2
12-12-2005, 07:55 PM
http://www.workerscompensation.com/florida/htdocs/index.php3?SCREEN=department&sid=&department=22

Good Info Site
You do not need WC in FL with less than 3 employees
Does not mean that some or hopefully most commercial bids require WC for all contractors
As an officer of my S corp I am "exempt"
The 9102 Park NOC code is set by the state .....it's a standard .... with reductions in the rate ....given on past record .... experience mod fator (takes bout 5 years with out an "event") .... drug testing .... training programs
In FL the WC cost is about $82 dollars on every $1000 of payroll (3 years ago it was almost $130)
I use Professional Insurance Underwriters out of Orlando
Thanks for the info, Fantasy Lawns. I am registered in Florida as an LLC. I read most of the statutes from the above website, and it was a little confusing at best, but I did understand that if you had less than 4 employees, you could elect to be exempt from workers comp., but that electing an exemption would not relieve you from financial responsibility in the event of an accident where the employee was hurt or killed, even if the employee was negligent and caused his/her own injury. Am I correct in that interpretation?

Also, I didn't get what part of your answer was referring to: "The 9102 Park NOC code is set by the state .....it's a standard .... with reductions in the rate ....given on past record .... experience mod fator (takes bout 5 years with out an "event") .... drug testing .... training programs"

How can I avoid the huge cost of W.C.? Would hiring "TEMPS" from an agency be advisable? I know hourly it would cost a little more, but they pay the Comp., and I wouldn't need to have them in the winter when business is slow, and I probably wouldn't need to guarantee 40 hours of work per week.

The Ripper
12-12-2005, 09:27 PM
Out sourcing your labo is not a good idea. You will have irregular quality in performance, you will spend too much time training, and will have no loyalty. You can do way more than 25 - 30 lawns on your own. Just work smarter and get the right equipment. Then when you are actually big enough to need employees you can either hire some local college kids for the summer, or maybe get an h2b worker or two. You have not been in business long enough to know everything that you should yet. You should grow gradually through hard work. Do not expand too fast. The area you are in is expanding like crazy. Spend your money on advertising over and over again and the work will come your way.

As for W/C if you start hiring employees and want to get commercial accounts or government work you have to have it. The will not accept a waiver. A company of your size does not need this insurance yet. It will kill your overhead.

Fantasy Lawns
12-12-2005, 11:14 PM
I'd have to agree with not needing WC at this point ..... not to say an injury does not cost $$

I can say that fore me ..... avg $85-100K of yearly pay roll or an average of $7-10K fore WC .... I've had 1 claim in 1999 fore just over $1k claim ..... I almost wish I had that $7-10K to just stick in some account which I control .

On the other side ... if I did have a sizable claim +$15k .... I'd be hurting ..... fore me WC is just another necessary expense .... which is wrapped into my cost ..... which flows back to the customer in my pricing or bidding process

My reference to the Park Code is .... that is the Code # that FL uses .... they have a national organization which sets the codes ... the danger of the work .... related to surveys on past injury's ..... our code of work related to Lawn or Landscaping is Code 9102

This code is standard .... you really can NOT "shop" WC .... the insurance industry as a whole is held to what the state say's they can charge .... the only thing that entitles one to a "discount" ....is if they have an active training program .... random drug test & experience ..... and the officer exempt .. which I have .... if not I'd be paying an extra 6-9% of my OWN salary in WC .... reality is that .... exempt is just that .... I don't work directly inthe field anymore ... if I was on a job n got hurt ....I'd be SOL .... as my personal medical insurance & WC would not cover me .... I am exempt

vntgrcr
12-13-2005, 05:11 AM
Fantasy,
"if I was on a job n got hurt ....I'd be SOL .... as my personal medical insurance & WC would not cover me .... I am exempt" Are you saying that your personal insurance woudln't cover you? I was under the assumption that if I was hurt at work(work for myself/excavation) that my Blue Cross would be fine. Let me know, maybe I am being naive and need to look into this. Thanks

Cut-Rite2
12-13-2005, 01:06 PM
Out sourcing your labo is not a good idea. You will have irregular quality in performance, you will spend too much time training, and will have no loyalty. You can do way more than 25 - 30 lawns on your own. Just work smarter and get the right equipment. Then when you are actually big enough to need employees you can either hire some local college kids for the summer, or maybe get an h2b worker or two. You have not been in business long enough to know everything that you should yet. You should grow gradually through hard work. Do not expand too fast. The area you are in is expanding like crazy. Spend your money on advertising over and over again and the work will come your way.
As for W/C if you start hiring employees and want to get commercial accounts or government work you have to have it. The will not accept a waiver. A company of your size does not need this insurance yet. It will kill your overhead.
I realize 25-30 accounts doesn't seem like much, but I am anticipating at least doubling to tripling my business next year. There are new subdivisions going up near me like crazy, and my current marketing seems to be working well in my area. The reason I wanted to think about hiring an employee is because I have back problems and I am most comfortable with the mowing on my Hustler Mini-Z, but when it comes to the string trimming and edging, being on my feet a lot wears my back out....so I can do about 5-6 lawns a day by myself. If it were not for this problem, I could do a lot more lawns, as you say. I can handle about 15 more lawns a week, but after that, it's going to be a problem. I need to figure out a way to get help without the burden of WC. I'm open to all legal suggestions. Since summer in my area runs from early may to late October for the growing seaon, I'm not sure college students would be able to do it unless they were part-time, and what about WC for them?
I appreciate all the input so far.

ProMo
12-13-2005, 06:23 PM
You can look into employe leasing they take care of payroll and supply wc for a percentage of the payroll.

Cut-Rite2
12-13-2005, 07:24 PM
You can look into employe leasing they take care of payroll and supply wc for a percentage of the payroll.
Thanks, Promo....I was thinking of something like that, at least to start with. Is employee leasing the same thing as a Temp agency? If not, do you happen to know what type of, or the name of companies that do that?

Thanks.

Cut-Rite2
12-13-2005, 07:51 PM
I did a quick Google search of the web and found some information on employee leasing. Thanks for the suggestion.

zturncutter
12-14-2005, 11:10 AM
In my opinion if you cannot afford workers comp. for your employees you cannot afford employees. Most leasing companies require 5 or more employees before they are interested in giving you a quote. Workers comp. not only covers your employees it covers your liabilities as well as your customers. Keep in mind that in Florida if you are doing any landscape work, that is rated at a higher rate than previously stated.:cool:

The Ripper
12-14-2005, 01:13 PM
He said he is doing maintenance not landscaping. I work not 15 minute from you in Florida. I know what the current conditions are and I know the pitfalls to extreme growth. I started three years ago with a 36 scag. Today I am in grossing well in to the six figure range with Workmans Comp./liability/and Auto. I have two crews and we do a lot of residential in new neighborhoods along with County buildings and commercial projects. If you hire employees now and get W/C it will take forever for your revenue to catch up so that you can pay yourself.

zturncutter
12-14-2005, 06:54 PM
I'd have to agree with not needing WC at this point ..... not to say an injury does not cost $$

I can say that fore me ..... avg $85-100K of yearly pay roll or an average of $7-10K fore WC .... I've had 1 claim in 1999 fore just over $1k claim ..... I almost wish I had that $7-10K to just stick in some account which I control .

On the other side ... if I did have a sizable claim +$15k .... I'd be hurting ..... fore me WC is just another necessary expense .... which is wrapped into my cost ..... which flows back to the customer in my pricing or bidding process

My reference to the Park Code is .... that is the Code # that FL uses .... they have a national organization which sets the codes ... the danger of the work .... related to surveys on past injury's ..... our code of work related to Lawn or Landscaping is Code 9102

This code is standard .... you really can NOT "shop" WC .... the insurance industry as a whole is held to what the state say's they can charge .... the only thing that entitles one to a "discount" ....is if they have an active training program .... random drug test & experience ..... and the officer exempt .. which I have .... if not I'd be paying an extra 6-9% of my OWN salary in WC .... reality is that .... exempt is just that .... I don't work directly inthe field anymore ... if I was on a job n got hurt ....I'd be SOL .... as my personal medical insurance & WC would not cover me .... I am exempt
I understand that, I am referencing the third pargraph of this post. Landscaping is not 9102.:)

Cut-Rite2
12-14-2005, 07:15 PM
Looks like I'm in a "Catch 22" or maybe up s--t's creek without a paddle. If I can't expand without employees, and I can't make any money while paying the comp., and I can't lease employees without having 5 warm bodies...what's left....scraping by and saving the damn initial comp. payment?? Too bad there isn't a "pay-as-you-go" system where you could pay the comp weekly instead of a lump sum. If there are no other alternatives, then how much cash would I need to accumulate to accomplish my goal of getting at least one helper? Bear in mind...I don't need medical, as I have a fully funded retirement health plan, and I don't plan on offering any benefits in the beginning.

zturncutter
12-14-2005, 07:39 PM
You really need to max yourself out before you can afford to hire employees without workers comp. and put yourself in a liability situation you might not be able to pay for. Unless these 25 or so accounts are very large you are not there yet. :)

The Ripper
12-14-2005, 07:55 PM
I agree with zturn as well

Cut-Rite2
12-15-2005, 05:10 PM
You really need to max yourself out before you can afford to hire employees without workers comp. and put yourself in a liability situation you might not be able to pay for. Unless these 25 or so accounts are very large you are not there yet. :)
I agree with you, I just wanted to get the facts before I did anything. I was talking with my old boss at the printing company I used to work for, about this issue, and he told me you don't need the comp. in one lump sum....that you CAN pay for it as you go with the weekly pay checks. This is something I wasn't aware of. In any case, I AM going to max out business before I do anything with this idea. I also intend to talk with a SCORE representative at Lake-Sumter Community College to get all the information I need before I initiate any action. I am not in a hurry, I just want to be prepared when the time comes.

ProMo
12-15-2005, 05:37 PM
I know 2 people who have used staff leasing with 1-2 employees so there are companys out there

zturncutter
12-15-2005, 07:46 PM
I know 2 people who have used staff leasing with 1-2 employees so there are companys out there
Staff leasing changed its name to Gevity approx. 3 years ago and quotes new business on 5 employees or more the last time I checked earlier this year.

ProMo
12-16-2005, 08:42 AM
http://cemorycross.com/

first one I found says 1 or more employees

Fantasy Lawns
12-16-2005, 05:28 PM
The law may have changed since I last looked ....it may well be 1 or more today ..... fore me I have to have it either way ....more than 5 employees & my state contract as well as most HOA's require it

zturncutter ....your more than likely correct on the exact code of 9102 for landscaping as our code relates mainly to lawn care with "lite landscaping" (what ever that means)

I actually have to pay an extra $50 to the state in my exempt statement ....even thou WC & my insurance knows I don't do big installs .... at best throw some sod or plant small shrubs (under 15 gallon pots) other wise I sub it out ....as I mainly do lawn & landscape care

The Ripper
12-16-2005, 06:31 PM
Oh, yeah well Mine is bigger than yours is..........................

zturncutter
12-16-2005, 07:05 PM
The law may have changed since I last looked ....it may well be 1 or more today ..... fore me I have to have it either way ....more than 5 employees & my state contract as well as most HOA's require it

zturncutter ....your more than likely correct on the exact code of 9102 for landscaping as our code relates mainly to lawn care with "lite landscaping" (what ever that means)

I actually have to pay an extra $50 to the state in my exempt statement ....even thou WC & my insurance knows I don't do big installs .... at best throw some sod or plant small shrubs (under 15 gallon pots) other wise I sub it out ....as I mainly do lawn & landscape care
The only reason I knew about this difference in codes was because of a conversation I had with my Work Comp. agent last week. I was telling her we had increased our landscaping revenue considerably over last year and she informed me that I should be paying the landscape rate then or at least be seperating the two revenue streams on my quarterly audits and paying two seperate rates. Just what I wanted more paperwork and a higher rate. Should of kept my mouth shut. Although I guess if there is a claim and we are doing Lanscape contracting work the insurance company might give us grief if we are not paying the proper code rate.:cry: