Entertainment

Workers’ Compensation in the Entertainment Industry

Workers’ compensation insurance for entertainers is a highly specialized field with insurance carriers who market to this industry. The cost of work comp coverage for entertainers is very high as a percentage of payroll, exceeding the cost of explosive manufacturers, coal miners and roofers (but cheaper than aerial firefighters and speed boat racers).

  • Entertainers who are solo practitioners with no employees are not required to have work comp coverage or can opt out of having work comp coverage in most states.
  • Entertainers who have personal assistants, back-up singers, band members, stage hands and bus drivers must provide work comp insurance coverage for all their employees.
  • The entertainers who work only at one location can purchase the necessary work comp coverage for their state.
  • Entertainers who change venues on a frequent basis have a much more difficult time obtaining work comp coverage as the underwriting factors keep changing for the insurance carrier.

Physical hazards for entertainers would include:

  • Transportation by bus and/or airplanes
  • Stage trip and fall hazards
  • Sound
  • Heat.

Band members of entertainers have a much higher then normal rate of repetitive motion injuries like carpal tunnel. Safety precautions to prevent trips on stage, electrical shocks and overheating are standard precautions for entertainers.

As entertainment venues are usually located in metropolitan areas, medical care is available when needed for work comp injuries.

  • Both medical care and indemnity benefits will be based on the location of the injury (but most states allow the employee to choose either the benefits of the state where they were hired or the state where the injury occurred).
  • The variable of not knowing what state laws the benefits will be based on is one of the reasons work comp carriers charge entertainers such high rates for coverage.

Occupational diseases incurred by employees of entertainers include not only the repetitive motion injuries but also injuries to vocal cords and hearing.

Some categories related to entertainers that would have the same or similar work comp issues (but with lower work comp rates) include:

  • Night clubs
  • Movie theaters
  • Movie production companies
  • Playhouses
  • Comedy clubs

Transitional / Modified Duties in the Entertainment Industry

While an entertainer-type personally may not be a good candidate, employees of the entertainer are good candidates for modified duty. Accommodating work restrictions for those individuals, particularly with a traveling entertainer is challenging. Consideration of temporary placement at the employee’s home base with a non-profit agency would work well in this scenario. Reporting to work for a non-profit agency will keep an employee active and productive versus being at home focused on an injury and disability.

If there is an applicable union contract, be sure to review the terms to verify modified duty is not prohibited or restricted. Other options include:

Stage Hands: Modify tasks to match restrictions to the extent possible using another person to help with heavy lifting or tasks beyond abilities identified.
Musicians: If restricted from playing, use the musician for music-related tasks or in assisting other musicians to prepare for performances.
Personal Assistant: Consider an assistant working from home, coordinating matters telephonically on a temporary basis.

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