Knowing Ins & Outs of Workers' Comp
When you think of workers’ compensation (WC), what comes to mind? Do you think of someone falling off a ladder? Does your mind go to those pesky lawyer commercials telling injured workers to “call now and get the millions they deserve?”
No matter what your role is in the WC arena, knowing some of the ins and outs may help protect your business.
Knowing the basics
Workers’ compensation (WC) is business insurance that provides income and medical benefits to employees injured on the job. In return, injured workers give up their rights to sue their employer.
What you may not know is remote employees may be covered for an injury sustained at home. In fact, employees may be covered by WC even if they were not following company policy at the time of the job-related injury. For example, if an employee isn’t following proper ladder safety protocol, falls, and gets hurt, WC may still apply.
Following state laws
States can differ when it comes to WC coverage. Some states may reduce compensation if an employee is under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of an incident. Other states may allow employees to sue employers for a full range of damages, including punitive, depending on the situation. Knowing the WC laws in your state, or the states in which your employees work, is key to protecting your business.
When WC claims increase, so do the associated insurance premiums. To help control costs, some employers do not report minor injuries. Instead, they pay for medical treatment out-of-pocket, which could be seen as fraud.
Before cutting corners, remember that even a minor injury could require follow-up treatments due to infection or other complications down the road. If the claim deadline has passed, you could end up paying a lot of money for ongoing expenses rather than if you had submitted the claim right away.
Take reasonable precautions to avoid situations that may cause harm to employees. Do your due diligence and train employees on what precautions they can take to protect themselves. If you have employees working remotely, be sure they are aware of any issues they may face and remind them to report injuries in a timely fashion. Let all employees know their safety and well-being is what’s important.
Michelle Higgins is an Associate Editor on the Human Resources Publishing Team at J. J. Keller and she creates content on a variety of employment-related topics including benefits, compensation, overtime, wage deductions, exempt/nonexempt employees, health and retirement plans, independent contractors, and child labor.
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