If you're a District of Columbia resident who hires maids, housecleaners or other domestic workers, the Department of Employment Services has announced that you may have to take out a workers' compensation insurance policy before the new city workers' compensation law goes into effect next Monday.

Those who hire one or more workers for 240 or more hours during a 13-week calendar quarter--the equivalent of about 18 1/2 hours a week--must have the coverage. It's intended to provide insurance coverage for on-the-job injuries.

James R. Montgomery, acting D.C. insurance director, said coverage should cost a typical homeowner between $70 and $110 a year, depending upon the categories of workers hired. Montgomery said he is attempting to arrange for adding workers' compensation coverage to the commonplace homeowners' liability policies at a discount rate, but no company has yet agreed to provide such coverage.

The insurance policy deadline coincides with the shift of administration of the workers' compensation program from the U.S. Labor Department to the city government. The change was mandated by a new law enacted by the City Council and upheld by the courts after a challenge by labor union groups who supported the previous and more liberal compensation system.