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Do actors qualify for workers’ compensation?

| Jun 15, 2020 | workers' compensation

Arizona is home to many performance artists, including actors who wow crowds with flash and skills. Think of the entertainers dressed in Western garb at the movie studio and theme park Old Tucson, recreating gunfights from days of yore. The falls and spills they take, sometimes, look painful. And look at the theater offerings throughout Phoenix, a city filled with talented stage actors.

But what happens if an actor sustains an injury during a performance or rehearsal? Are actors eligible for workers’ compensation benefits? The answer is that it depends. Arizona’s workers’ compensation law does not cover everyone, and many actors likely fall into this category.

Many actors are independent contractors

Like any job, actors are susceptible to injuries such as slips-and-falls, head injuries, burns and fractures. Anything can happen onstage, or a movie set from a tumble to a battle scene gone awry.

In Arizona, employers who hire workers – whether they are part-time, full-time or minors – must provide workers’ compensation insurance. If an actor is part of a troupe that is employed by a theater company, then they likely qualify for workers’ compensation benefits.

However, many entertainers are independent contractors or freelancers. Vagabond actors who travel from theater to theater for work enjoy the freedom, but as freelancer or independent contractor, they are excluded from workers’ compensation laws. Why? Because they are self-employed and have more autonomy than a typical employee.

Arizona’s workers’ compensation law does not apply to all workers. Independent contractors and casual employees are among those not covered.

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