Put It in Writing: Crafting Effective Written Job Offers

Put It in Writing: Crafting Effective Written Job OffersOne of the goals of every workers’ compensation program should be to get the employee back to work following an injury.  When returning the employee to work, interested stakeholders and those seeking to reduce workers’ compensation costs should seek to do so by finding employment at the date of injury employer.  When seeking to return that person to work, it is important to have an effectively written job offer.  Failure to do so can cause delay and be met with ongoing and unnecessary litigation costs.

 

 

Understanding Written Job Offer Requirements

 

The requirements of a written job offer are outlined in greater detail in statute and regulation.  There are also other factors to consider based on developed case law.  Members of the claims management team and employer representatives should understand these jurisdictional specific requirements and carefully follow them.  Always consult with an attorney when there are questions.

 

 

Back to the Basics: Preparing an Effective Written Offer

 

It is referred to in workers’ compensation as a “written job offer” because the most important requirement is that the offer for future employment following a work injury must be in writing.  The nature of that written (paper copy versus e-mail) may also be subject to judicial interpretation.  The result is the best offers are on a piece of paper and either directly handed to the employee or sent via certified mail/receipt request to ensure it was delivered.  There is developing case law that suggests the offer can also be sent via email or tax.

 

There are also other basic requirements.  These often include the following:

 

  • The job offer must be suitable: There are varieties of issues to consider in this element.  The offer must be something that is available at the date of injury employer at a wage commensurate with ability and skill;

 

  • The job offer must be defined: These standards are often outlined in statute/regulation with supporting case law interpretations.  General factors to include are that it be a part of an approved vocational rehabilitation plan, within the employee restrictions and produces an economic status as close as possible to the employee’s pre-injury condition;

 

  • The job offer must be offered at the right time: It is important to understand if this job offer can be made before an employee reaches maximum medical improvement.  This is an essential requirement in many jurisdictions with “timing” requirements; and

 

  • The job offer must include detailed information: Important parts of any job offer should include a job title, wages and hours, physical demands of the position (detailed description of the work one would perform) and whether the employee is capable of performing this job with success given their physical and vocational limitations.  This is often subject to a battle of vocational experts.

 

 

Failure to Accept an Appropriate Written Job Offer

 

The failure of an employee to accept or reject a valid written job offer can have significant implications for a workers’ compensation program.  In many jurisdictions, this can include discontinuance of, or complete future forfeiture of one’s wage loss and vocational rehabilitation benefits.  Most states do not limit an employee’s ability to receive future medical care and treatment based on the rejection or failure to accept a valid written offer.  An attorney knowledgeable in a jurisdiction’s workers’ compensation law can provide a legal opinion on these matters.

 

 

Conclusions

 

Members of the claims management team and other interested stakeholders should seek creative ways to place an injured worker back to work to reduce workers’ compensation program costs.  One such tool is preparing and giving an injured worker an effectively written job offer.  When preparing this written offer, it is important to ensure it is received by the employee and meets the legal requirements of a workers’ compensation act.

 

 

 

Michael Stack - AmaxxAuthor Michael Stack, CEO Amaxx LLC. He is an expert in workers’ compensation cost containment systems and helps employers reduce their workers’ comp costs by 20% to 50%.  He works as a consultant to large and mid-market clients, is a co-author of Your Ultimate Guide To Mastering Workers Comp Costs, a comprehensive step-by-step manual of cost containment strategies based on hands-on field experience, and is founder & lead trainer of Amaxx Workers’ Comp Training Center .

 

Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

Workers’ Comp Roundup Blog: http://blog.reduceyourworkerscomp.com/

 

©2018 Amaxx LLC. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law.

 

Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker, attorney, or qualified professional.

3 Times to Consider the ADA in Workers’ Compensation

Workers’ compensation claims professionals and other interested stakeholders face many challenges in their programs.  One important challenge is running a program that is consistent with the applicable workers’ compensation act and not conflicting with the Americans With Disabilities (ADA) Act.  Failing to understand this matter can result in serious legal consequences and impact your bottom line.

 

 

What is the ADA?

 

The ADA is codified under 42 U.S.C. §12101, and is an important civil rights law that prohibits discrimination based on disability.  It was enacted in 1990 and laid the groundwork for greater inclusion of persons with disabilities in American society, which includes those suffering from a work-related injury.

 

There are many legal nuances to this law, so it is important to consult an attorney if you have questions.  Areas of concern as outlined by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) include:

 

  • Whether a person with an occupational injury has a disability as defined by the ADA;

 

  • Disability-related questions and medical examinations relating to occupational injury and workers’ compensation claims;

 

  • Hiring practices concerning a person with a history of occupational injury, return to work of persons with occupational injury, and application of the direct threat standard;

 

  • Reasonable accommodation for persons with disability-related occupational injuries;

 

  • Light duty issues; and

 

  • Exclusive remedy provisions in workers’ compensation laws.

 

 

3 Times to Consider the ADA in Workers’ Compensation

 

Employers and other interested stakeholders need to understand the value anyone with a disability has and how it can impact the work environment in a positive manner.  Contrary to popular belief, people who may be disabled want to work as it provides a number of intangibles that benefit morale and self-worth.

 

Keeping this in mind, employers need to consider the following touchpoints in their hiring and workers’ compensation programs:

 

 

Pre-employment:

 

All hiring polices need to comply with the ADA and its mandate of non-discrimination.  Asking potential new hires about disabilities or work restrictions many result in legal action.  It is also important to keep in mind that a disability is not limited to physical barriers.  Various mental health conditions can qualified as a covered disability under the Act.

 

Issues concerning drug testing also come into play under the ADA.  As a general rule, employers can ask all applicants to submit to a drug test as part of the pre-employment process.

 

 

Post-work injury:

 

Employee’s suffering from a work injury can also be covered under the ADA.  A common misconception is the ADA only applies when an employee reaches MMI, this is incorrect. A person injured at work can immediately be considered a “qualified individual with a disability”. At the time of injury a referral to HR and a discussion, referred to as the “interactive process” regarding reasonable accommodations must occur.

 

Additional areas of concern include job search requirements, return-to-work/employment transitions and light duty.  Employers should work with various professionals within their organization when crafting a return-to-work plan and requires modified job duties or positions.  Additional considerations should also be given to time off from work to attend medical appointments, etc.

 

 

Post-injury Termination of Employment:

 

Problems also arise following a work injury when the employee’s position is eliminated or that individual is terminated.  It is important to document all steps that are taken and involve legal counsel.  Employers should also involve specialized counsel if they are requesting a global settlement of a workers’ compensation claim that involves a voluntary resignation of employment and release of all claims.  Issues to consider include a separate employment release and monetary consideration beyond what is paid for workers’ compensation benefits.

 

 

Conclusions

 

Workers’ compensation claims are complex and require an understanding of the law.  The ADA is an important consideration for those involved in handling claims and the myriad of associated issues.

 

 

Author Michael Stack, Principal, Amaxx LLC. He is an expert in workers compensation cost containment systems and helps employers reduce their work comp costs by 20% to 50%.  He works as a consultant to large and mid-market clients, is co-author of Your Ultimate Guide To Mastering Workers Comp Costs, a comprehensive step-by-step manual of cost containment strategies based on hands-on field experience, and is founder & lead trainer of Amaxx Workers’ Comp Training Center. .

 

Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

Workers’ Comp Roundup Blog: http://blog.reduceyourworkerscomp.com/

 

©2017 Amaxx LLC. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law.

 

Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker, attorney, or qualified professional.

Economic Recovery Poses Challenges For Workers’ Compensation

Economic Recovery

With the economy experiencing a resurgence, businesses find themselves in need of a workforce expansion. This expansion compels companies to consider the cost of injury compensation claims as they pertain to the age demographics of employees.

Economic recovery, while certainly welcome, has brought its own set of issues for employers. Particularly in the area of hiring enough help to meet increasing production demands, businesses are scrambling to bring in workers and, in many cases, those new hires are frequently made out of desperation.

 

Compounding the issues created by the mass hiring-attrition cycle, is the presence of a multi -generational workforce with vastly disparate perceptions and styles in regard to work, learning, and life.

 

The increase in injuries and Workers’ Compensation claims over the past several years is reflective of the impact of increased production on older workers having to work overtime, and often in positions with which they are unfamiliar.

 

Simultaneously, companies are attempting to hire and retain younger workers with no experience and physical conditioning unsuited to job demands.

 

The urgency to move new employees quickly into the production environment is often at the cost of adequate training and conditioning and into jobs that do not meet individual engagement factors, particularly of a young worker. Baby boomers are estimated to make up 20% of the workforce in 2015, according to a recent article in Safety National. Millenials, those aged 16-34, represent about 13% of workers, but are the largest segment of our population today.

 

While the cost of injuries to older workers is significantly higher in the short term, a research brief published in NCCI’s Workers’ Compensation 2015 Issues Report indicates that, “…younger workers cost approximately 60% more per year per claim than older workers.”

 

With regard to the impact of length of employment on Workers’ Compensation costs, in a publication entitled Recession, Recovery, and Workers’ Compensation Claims, Zurich insurance reports that “…workers with less than one year of experience represent 38% of lost time claims and 43% of lost time costs.”

 

Addressing the intertwined issues of age and job tenure is a challenge for business.

 

Five areas of consideration are critical:

 

  1. Hire wisely: Utilize physical abilities testing as part of process. (The testing must be matched to the job’s functional requirements.)
  2. Engagement: Develop and implement opportunities to ensure all team members are connected and supported from the first day of employment.
  3. Mentoring and reverse mentoring: Pairing new and seasoned workers over an extended period of time to exchange unique knowledge and interests. Older workers offer corporate knowledge and tips for performing their jobs, while younger workers can share their skills in utilizing technology.
  4. Training: Workplace safety and “smart” work practices, including extended period of conditioning for new workers in physically demanding jobs.
  5. Emphasize health and fitness for all employees.

 

Ultimately, economic recovery is dependent on smart hiring and successful integration of new and old workers to avoid costly recruiting and injuries.

 

Author Linda Weeks, Medcor, Executive Director of Training/ Director of Operations. Medcor helps employers reduce the costs of workers’ compensation and general health care by providing injury triage services and operating worksite health and wellness clinics. Medcor’s services are available 24/7 nationwide for worksites of any size in any industry. Headquartered in McHenry, Illinois, the company operates 174 clinics and provides triage services to over 90,000 worksites across all 50 states and US territories. Medcor’s triage methods are covered by U.S. & foreign patents, including U.S. No. 7,668,733; 7,716,070; & 7,720,692; other patents pending. Medcor is privately held. Learn more at www.medcor.com.

Employers Need To Be Diligent To Prevent Workplace Murder

All too frequently we see incidents where a present or ex-employee comes onto the workplace with firearms and wounds or kills members of the existing staff.

 

The survivor heartbreak for those killed is huge. Many of the wounded can be left with permanent physical injuries.  All employees, whether victims or by-standers, may face post-traumatic stress syndrome, and the grieving process may require professional intervention.

 

The recovery and healing process will go on for an extended period of time, and some workers may never get over the fear that it could happen again.

 

 

Employer Response:

 

This type of loss demands that the employer be concerned, sympathetic, and require prompt response from the claim units.  Personal interface with each employee and family involved is mandatory to address all concerns at once.

 

Employers should lead the road to recovery by example and take all steps necessary to resume normal operations. This may even require a new location for operations if the shooting scene is too horrific to be forgotten.

 

Challenge any and all facts presented by the media to the public that are not true or confirmed.

 

 

Causes:

 

What makes an employee turn into a dangerous individual to wreak havoc can be a number of different factors.

 

Some try to attribute it to such factors as:

 

  1. Social or permissive attitudes.
  2. Substance Abuse.
  3. Poor social skills of the perpetrator.
  4. Physical Abuse
  5. Impact from fellow employees.
  6. Actual or presumed factors from the job, management, or fellow employees.

 

The causation list is long and debatable.  However, the leading cause in most of these murderous rampage tragedy’s stems from mental illness.  Some are due to domestic issues, and others are due to emotional triangles.

 

Those that may have developed because of work environment still show that there were mental issues prior to commission of the act.

 

 

The United States Supreme Court:

 

One of the challenges in the prevention of mentally induced violent attacks is the misapplication of the Supreme Court 1975 ruling “O’Connor v. Donaldson.”

 

Without rehashing the facts of the case, the conclusion was that no mentally ill person could be indefinitely deprived of freedom by the state. This is especially applicable when the individual is not a danger to anyone, and can live safely in freedom.  It further goes on to insinuate that persons may have been confined just to be deprived of needed care.

 

The key is that the person is not a danger to anyone and can live safely on their own.

 

 

Determining Exposures:

 

It is difficult to ascertain mental illness.  People may be arrogant, conniving, rude, manipulative, moody, anti-social, angry, insulting, argumentative, professionally aggressive, or have dozens of other personality issues that society frowns on. Yet, that does not mean they suffer from a dangerous psychotic illness.

 

Mentally ill people can often hide their conditions.   It takes time and professionals trained in psychiatric disorders to uncover a mental disorder.  It takes even longer to determine if the person can become dangerous to self and others at large.

 

Some conditions are temporary, and many conditions are mild and can allow the individual to function without a danger to others and live safely on their own.  These people can function to a point where society may not even be aware of a problem

 

Under the situations mentioned above an employer is almost powerless to determine when an employee is or may become unstable.  Few employers would accuse or take action against any employee as a mental risk under these conditions.   Further, if the employer was to take any action they might be charged with violating “O’Connor vs. Donaldson”

 

 

A Known Exposure:

 

There are tragedies where the employer and fellow employees knew the offending person was dangerous, and going to the police for help was no solace. The police could do nothing.  The excuse given:  “There is nothing that can be done until the violent one acts in a dangerous manner.”

 

This is the misapplication of “O’Connor vs. Donaldson”.

 

 

Pre-Employment Testing:

 

There are personnel tests to determine mental capacity and stability, and the results show improvements in employee outcomes.   However, the tests are not full-proof, and a troubled person that is trained to pass the test could be hired.

 

 

Conclusion:

 

Murder and maiming occur on the job by unstable employees.  While it may be impossible to create a system to protect against all potential dangerous employees, employers need to be diligent and work with a best-in-class provider to hopefully prevent the next tragedy.

 

 

 

 

Author Michael Stack, Principal, COMPClub, Amaxx LLC. He is an expert in workers compensation cost containment systems and helps employers reduce their work comp costs by 20% to 50%.  He works as a consultant to large and mid-market clients, is co-author of Your Ultimate Guide To Mastering Workers Comp Costs, a comprehensive step-by-step manual of cost containment strategies based on hands-on field experience, and is founder of COMPClub, an exclusive member training program on workers compensation cost containment best practices. Through these platforms he is in the trenches on a working together with clients to implement and define best practices, which allows him to continuously be at the forefront of innovation and thought leadership in workers’ compensation cost containment. Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

 

 

©2015 Amaxx LLC. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law.

 

Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker, attorney, or qualified professional.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Work Comp, Mental Injuries, And Hiring Your Next Comp Claim

Work comp, when it first started, paid only for obvious traumatic injuries. It did not pay for slow starting injuries (repetitive stress), occupational diseases, or physical injuries which, when they healed, left the worker with mental damage (depression, phobia, etc.).

 

 

Dissatisfaction With Life Often Leads To A Large Work Comp Claim

 

Eventually, all those became covered in nearly all states. But what about purely “mental stress” injuries which were not accompanied by physical symptoms? These, perhaps, account for more than half of all comp costs, but they have become masked by a comp system that insists that a treating doctor, at some point, link the claim to physical consequences, either at the start or the end of a claim.

 

What is the purely “mental stress” that causes so much increase in comp costs? It is nearly always dissatisfaction with a life situation, oftentimes not work related.  A bad relationship often leads to a large claim with a large settlement.

 

Why do such situations become entrenched in the comp system? Well, there is no affordable way that an investigation can gather enough credible evidence to limit such claims, even though the correlation of bad claims with bad life situations is no secret to claims departments.

 

Every defense comp attorney has seen, at some point, an employer who tries to develop a defense, but has to drop it when it becomes far too obvious that it will require family members to disclose the darkest secrets and, moreover, to testify against each other. Obviously, an administrative disability system is not the best way to deal with this.

 

 

Do Not Hire Next Year’s Work Comp Claim

 

An employer is also poorly equipped to deal with this, but is far better than a claims unit. The first piece of advice is to recognize potential danger signs, preferably before, not after, the time of hire. The author said, twenty years ago, “Do not hire next year’s claim”. But he surely wasn’t the first to say it. Nor, judging from remarks posted on the web, has he been the last. 

 

So improved hiring practices are the most effective way to deal with the most troublesome of all claim situations; dealing with dissatisfaction with life by trying to buy it off. It simply does not work.

 

But what can be done once you have hired next year’s claim, and the year is nearly over? Unfortunately, even the best outcome doesn’t come cheap, but if it is not viewed as a learning exercise it will become a “repetitive stress” experience for the employer, since such claims have a way of growing.

 

 

Danger Signs Should Be Detected In Interview

 

A small employer, with only a single office secretary as his work staff, discovered, the hard way, two valuable lessons. However, he learned both far too late to save his business. The first lesson was that a single part time clerk still has to be covered by work comp – and he didn’t have a policy. The other lesson was that a young employee, willing to work for a minimal wage, had too much education to be content with such a wage, unless something was very wrong. The worker, once out on a back claim, continued to remain on it for 18 years, and continues on it.

 

The real reason for the extended disability had nothing to do with back pain. Instead, there was a real desire to retreat from the world and live at home, never developing outside relationships at all. The danger signs should have been detected at the interview.

 

Employers must be aware that work comp is the law which is most tilted in favor of the worker. “In favor of” means that claims which probably should not be paid usually are paid. And that includes claims which are due to pre-existing “stress” with no relationship to work.

 

The lesson is, for employers, that an extra hour during an interview, can replace $100,000 in disability payments. (The case mentioned above has cost the employer $241,000 to date, with no end in sight. In return, the employer received a year of substandard work.)

 

 

Author: Attorney Theodore Ronca is a practicing lawyer from Aquebogue, NY. He is a frequent writer and speaker, and has represented employers in the areas of workers’ compensation, Social Security disability, employee disability plans and subrogation for over 30 years. Attorney Ronca can be reached at 631-722-2100. medsearch7@optonline.net

 

Editor Michael B. Stack, CPA, Director of Operations, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is an expert in employer communication systems and part of the Amaxx team helping companies reduce their workers compensation costs by 20% to 50%. He is a writer, speaker, and website publisher. www.reduceyourworkerscomp.com. Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

©2013 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law.


Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker, attorney, or qualified professional about workers comp issues.

Are You An Employee or Independent Contractor?

Companies Try Using Independent Contracts to Save Costs

 

To keep costs low, some smaller companies may use an outside work group, staffing service, other “on-call” workers, subcontractors, or independent contractors (IC).  The goal of doing this is to not make them an actual “Employee” and thereby save on costs and insurance, salary, benefits, and the like.

 

Pretty clever!  You are probably feeling pretty good about yourself.  You were able to staff your job requirements all while shifting risk and injury exposure to the person that accepted the “subcontracting or independent contracting” job.  So, if this Independent Contractor falls off the roof and breaks bones, who cares that is their problem!  Right? 

 

Probably not.  Actually you may incur some major penalties (depends on Jurisdiction) for trying to do something like this.  Case in point—this happened to a person I know.  He is a 28 year old self-employed General Contractor.  He found a guy on Craigslist looking for help on a roofing job.  He was slow as far as work went so he decided to help out.  The hiring guy sent him the location info, and they began working.  The hiring guy controlled the work hours, the location, the pay, and the duties that my friend would be doing.

 

 

“Independent Contractor” Fell Off Roof & Awarded Work Comp Benefits

 

One day they were to finish a roof on a home they were renovating.  They had a scissor lift for one more day, so they had to get the job done or else it would cost more rental fees, which of course the hiring guy wanted to avoid if possible.  He told my pal to head up and check if the roof shingles were frozen since it had snowed the night before.  He crawls out the window to get roof access, then proceeds to slip off the roof and fall a few stories to the ground.  He sustained severely fractured ankles both requiring ORIF, plates and screws, and so on. The poor guy was bedridden for almost 4 months, and has a rough road to recovery.  He has undergone three bilateral surgeries thus far, with the odds of needing bilateral ankle replacements in the near future if he doesn’t see better progress.  In addition, if the ankle replacements fail the docs will most likely want to do ankle fusions, which mean years of pain, stiffness, arthritis, knee problems, back issues, hip problems due to altered gait, and so on. 

 

After the accident he consulted an attorney, who filed suit against the hiring guy, and the house owner.  Both carriers for the hiring party and the home owner quickly opined that he was an Independent Contractor, not an employee, and he was to use his own health insurance carrier for benefits.  They even went so far as to not attend a scheduled mediation with a Judge.  The Judge deemed the hiring party and the home owner at fault, and handed down a $2.5 million dollar Judgment. 

 

Even though my friend was not deemed an “employee” of the hiring guy, it didn’t matter.  Because the hiring guy had control of job duties, controlled hours worked, and wages owed, that was enough in this Jurisdiction.  I am sure they will appeal this, but the fact remains that even though they thought they were in the clear, they got handed a massive monetary amount to be owed to my friend.

 

 

Hiring An Independent Contractor Comes With Risks

 

This risk of thinking you are hiring an Independent Contractor comes with its share of horrors, and I am sure this is a lot more common than people think.  It is easy to assume that because a worker is not an official employee of yours that you do not have any risk involved.  It is probably the other way around.  You should always discuss your situation with legal counsel, as well as keep in mind these other factors:

 

 

  1. Control of work and wages

 

If you deem that you are the one controlling the hours worked, the wages paid, and the duties performed, then chances are you are going to have some exposure whether your worker is an employee or not.  Are expenses reimbursed?  Do you pay mileage?  Are you supplying tools and supplies?  Did your temp worker sign any kind of waiver or do you even have a form for them to sign?  If not, it may be something that can protect you from certain risk exposures.  

 

 

  1. Does your temp worker have insurance?

 

Before you allow anyone to work with you in your job site, do they have their own insurance, or workers comp policy in place?  Do they have their own insurance plans, pension, and vacation pay?  Do they have their own staff of employees or it is just this one worker?  Is the work performed their main line of business?  All of these important questions need answers before you allow someone to start work.

  

 

  1. What is the exact relationship between the two parties?

 

Going back to above, do you have a waiver for this worker to sign that excuses you from any and all liability, both seen and unseen, known and unknown?  If you do not have any documentation in place, you should consult Legal Counsel to draft up some sort of waiver to protect you should an injury occur.  You may not be able to waive all of your liability, but you may be able to lessen the exposure.  In a case like my friend, you never know what is going to happen on any given day.  This is especially true in a construction atmosphere where you may have several different types of Independent Contractors coming and going from the premises. 

 

 

Summary

 

Depending on your jurisdiction, there can be much criteria for a worker to pass in order for you to be free and clear from any and all exposure.  If your practice is hiring a lot of workers independent contractors, it will always be best to err on the side of caution.  The answers the three questions above will help you determine you get started.  Do your homework, and take the time to talk to an attorney that specializes in this practice.  You will thank yourself later, just in case that horrible fall should happen on your job site.

 

 

 

Author Michael B. Stack, CPA, Director of Operations, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is an expert in employer communication systems and part of the Amaxx team helping companies reduce their workers compensation costs by 20% to 50%. He is a writer, speaker, and website publisher.  www.reduceyourworkerscomp.com.  Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

 

 

 

©2013 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law.

 


Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker, attorney, or qualified professional about workers comp issues.

How Employees Can Help You Reduce Workers Comp Costs

 

As productive members of your workforce, employees must participate in your Workers’ Compensation Claims Management Program.  An important factor that correlates strongly with the employer’s ability to control workers compensation costs is the ability to communicate effectively with employees.  

 

Here are some things you might want to require that will often make a difference in the final outcome of the workers comp claim.

 

Accidents must be reported immediately after an injury. Employees should be encouraged to openly communicate with their supervisors and tell them immediately if there is even a potential for a strain to develop into a workers comp injury. Every personal injury lawyer knows that soft tissue injuries may not develop fully until weeks after the injury. Conditions that are treated immediately may be halted from developing into a full blown workers comp injury that can take an employee out of work.

 

Injured employees must bring your injury treatment form to the doctor who treats them. They must get this form updated at intervals you request (e.g. every two weeks). Make sure that you give both the employee and the treating physician sufficient copies of the form so that this simple step is done without excuses.

 

Have their doctor fax this form to the workplace within 24 hours of each appointment. Make sure your fax number is clearly visible on the form. If you don’t receive the form, call the employee and the doctor to make sure this gets done. The longer the doctor takes to fill out the form, the less details you are likely to get, as the appointment won’t be as fresh in the doctor’s mind. Make sure you have the doctor’s full name and phone number.

 

They must attend weekly status meetings at the workplace (unless they are medically unable) until they are back to work in their original job at full capacity. If they are bedridden a nurse case manager can make a home visit, if approved by your legal counsel. Give the nurse case manager a questionnaire to immediately complete and return to you.

 

Be available for medical appointments and company meetings during normal business hours. If not, you need to find out the reason

 

Provide updates about their medical condition. Ask for details, don’t just accept that they are “feeling the same.”

 

Participate in the transitional duty program as required by policy. Have a written transitional/modified duty program ready for employees who can return to work with restrictions so that employees will know what is required of them. 

 

Comply with all program policies. Make sure all of your policies are in writing and are easily available for the injured employee to access. The policies should be in the employee handbooks distributed to all employees, covered at safety meetings and redistributed to the employee after an injury.

 

Sign an acknowledgement form stating they have been informed of and understand all requirements. 

 

©Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law.


Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker, attorney, or qualified professional about workers comp issues.

Hiring Illegal Workers Leads to Large Fines, Verify Eligibility

 

Case:  Employer May Lose 30% of Employees
 
Following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), a clothing maker announced plans to lay off around one-fourth of its factory workers in Los Angeles. The employer, who had mostly Hispanic immigrants, was notified by ICE that 1,600 of its reported 5,600 factory workers could be illegal immigrants. Officials said the company could face thousands of dollars in fines if it determined that illegal workers were knowingly brought on by the company. The fines could top more than $800 per person, according to government regulations.
 
 
Employers Can Quickly Verify Employees’ Work Eligibility
 
The employer could have avoided this situation if it had verified its employees’ eligibility to legally work in the United States. All employers must have all new employees complete a Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification. The employer must complete the I-9 within three days of the employee beginning work for pay. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) provides these and other forms with instructions on its website, http://www.uscis.gov/portal/site/uscis
 
 
E-Verify
 
U.S. law requires companies to employ only individuals who may legally work in the United States – either U.S. citizens or foreign citizens who have the necessary work authorization. People who have been admitted as permanent residents, granted asylum or refugee status, or have been admitted in work-related nonimmigrant classifications, may have employment authorization as a direct result of their immigration status. Others may need to apply individually for employment authorization.
 
E-Verify is an internet-based system that allows businesses to determine the eligibility of their employees to work in the United States. E-Verify is fast, free and easy to use – and it’s the best way employers can ensure a legal workforce. E-verify is found at http://www.uscis.gov/portal/site/uscis
 
E-Verify compares the information an employee provides on the Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, against millions of government records and generally provides results in three to five seconds. If the information matches, that employee is eligible to work in the United States. If there's a mismatch, E-Verify will alert the employer. The website also has information about how employers can petition for work authorization for a potential employee. While participation in E-Verify is voluntary for most employers (though mandatory for most government contractors and subcontractors), completion of Form I-9 is required of all employers.
 
Employers can sign up for free webinars on how to use E-verify at http://www.uscis.gov/portal/site/uscis/menuitem.eb1d4c2a3e5b9ac89243c6a7543f6d1a/?vgnextoid=413628ac1dc0c210VgnVCM100000082ca60aRCRD&vgnextchannel=413628ac1dc0c210VgnVCM100000082ca60aRCRD#For Employers
 
 
Author Michael B. Stack, CPA, Director of Operations, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is an expert in employer communication systems and part of the Amaxx team helping companies reduce their workers compensation costs by 20% to 50%. He is a writer, speaker, and website publisher.  www.reduceyourworkerscomp.com
 
©2012 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law.


Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker, attorney, or qualified professional about workers comp issues.

Obesity Drives the Cost of Work Injuries Sky High

If you were the producer of a Broadway show, would your hire a 300-pound ballerina? The idea seems absurd, but most employers shy away from hiring and retaining obese employees. (Obesity discrimination is illegal in Michigan, the District of Columbia, San Francisco, and Santa Cruz, CA). Obesity is not a disability that falls under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) unless is has a proven physiological cause. We do not advocate obesity discrimination, but feel you should be aware that the more obese people you hire and employ, the higher the cost of your workers compensation insurance will be. This is also true in life insurance, one must fall into the appropriate body weight range to qualify for reasonably priced life insurance. Sad but true. And there may be ample justification for such increase in rates.
 

There are many ways to define obesity. To most people, a “fat person” is someone who weights 50 or 100 pounds more than they do.  Medically speaking, a person with a body mass index – BMI (a weight-to-height ratio, calculated by dividing one's weight in kilograms by the square of one's height in meters) of 18.5 to 24.9 is considered to be of normal weight, 25 to 29.9 is considered to be overweight, with 30 and above is considered obese. The doctor once told my husband he was obese which was very surprising because I don't view him as obese — a beer tummy maybe, but certainly not obese to my way of thinking.

 
In a often-cited Duke University study based on 100 full-time employees with a body mass index of 40, the impact of obesity on the cost of workers compensation is tremendous. Statistics show the impact on workers compensation cost of obese employees who are injured on the job including:
 
 
1.  Claims: Obese employees have twice as many workers compensation claims (11.65 claims vs. 5.8 claims for non-obese employees.)
 
2. Lost days from work: Obese employees lose 13 times more work days for their injury (183.63 days vs 14.19 days).
 
3. Medical cost: Obese employees medical cost is seven times higher ($51,901 vs. $7,503).
 
4. Indemnity Cost: Obese employees indemnity cost is 11 times higher ($59,178 vs. $5,396).
 
 
Another study by researchers at John Hopkins found similar results with a direct correlation between the number of injuries and the amount of obesity, with the odds of injury at work increasing with the waistline. The more obese the employee, the greater the odds the employee would be hurt on the job.
 
 
With nearly two-thirds of all American adults either overweight or obese, obesity is now being divided into subgroups with their own definitions including:
 
1.      Overweight – 1 to 29 pounds above normal
 
2.      Obese – 30 to 59 pounds overweight
 
3.      Severely obese – 60 to 99 pounds overweight
 
4.      Morbidly obese – at least 100 pounds overweight
 
5.      Super obese – 200 or more pounds overweight
 
 
Per the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2007 about one-fourth (26 percent) of all employees were in the obese or a higher category. It is projected that by the year 2020, 40 percent of men and 43 percent of women will be classified as obese or higher. When you include the overweight people with the obese, by 2020 it is predicted that 70 percent of all employees will be overweight, with the number of overweight people continuing to grow (no pun intended).
 
 
What does this mean for workers compensation? Well, any one who has been involved with or who has handled their share of workers compensation claims know the injuries most common to obese employees involve their back, lower extremities (knees and ankles primarily), wrist (carpal tunnel claims and women with obesity “go hand-in-hand”) and hands. Obese employees generally hurt their back when trying to lift heavy weights or lift any weight improperly, and the obese employees hurt their backs, knees and ankles more severely when they slip and fall. Due to their obesity, obese employees have a significantly higher percentage of musculoskeletal injuries than non-obese employees.
 
 
The additional strain placed on the employee's musculoskeletal system by the additional weight is only one factor that delays the employee's recovery from an injury. Obese employee's often have other comorbidity problems besides their weight that delays their recovery from injury. Other medical issues among obese employee's interfering with their recovery include hypertension, heart disease and diabetes. open-ended According to the National Counsel on Compensation Insurance, these comorbidity issues can increase the cost of a work comp claim by an astounding 30 times.
 
 
As an employer, there are some steps you can take to reduce the cost of workers compensation related to obesity. The following are some approaches employers have taken to deal with this issue:
 
1.      Health insurance premium discounts for employees with a BMI of 18 to 25.
 
2.      A weight-reduction program offered through your human resources department.
 
3.      Encourage physical activity at work whether it is taking the steps instead of the elevator or parking at the far end of the parking lot.
 
4.      Use weight loss seminars from Weight Watchers or Jenny Craig.
 
5.      On-site or off site fitness centers with free membership or reduced price membership.
 
6.      A fitness program that includes healthy eating, health improvement seminars, exercise classes, and company sponsored athletic teams.
 
7.      Use of the company intranet to post weight loss guides, cooking light suggestions, and any topic on good health.
 
8.      A recognition program for employees who meet a weight-loss goal.
 
 
Encouraging your employees to be healthy pays off in lower workers compensation cost and provides for a healthier, happier work force.  Insurance companies – yes – the very same ones selling life insurance and workers compensation need to get in line to promote wellness, health and fitness just as much as any other employer. My daughter worked for an insurance company and the supervisor had a candy dish on her desks, ice-cream sundae Wednesday, birthday cakes often and pot luck Friday once a month. Ice Cream Sundae Wednesday? Ya think everyone was bringing in Frozen Yogurt?
 

Author Rebecca Shafer
, JD, President of Amaxx Risks Solutions, Inc. is a national expert in the field of workers compensation. She is a writer, speaker, and website publisher. Her expertise is working with employers to reduce workers compensation costs, and her clients include airlines, healthcare, printing/publishing, pharmaceuticals, retail, hospitality, and manufacturing. See www.LowerWC.com for more information. Contact:RShafer@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com .

 
Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker or agent about workers comp issues.
 
©2011 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.

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