Urban legend and stereotype opinion say traveling employees have it made. They see large parts of the country or world, use the finest lodgings and restaurants, and entertain clients or customers in lavish ways.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Most traveling employees are sardined on airplanes, use moderately priced hotels and rental cars, eat at chain restaurants, and generally work very long hours.
Workers Compensation Exposure:
Traveling employees can suffer from:
- Lack of Sleep (primarily from reporting to the home office on their daily activity in their hotel room in the evening)
- Long Periods of inactivity from having to work in an office setting
- Travel Fatigue and jet lag
- Poor restaurant diets of fatty and salt laden food
- Loneliness from family separation
- Exposure to the public in terminals, restaurants, for possible contraction of illness or disease
- Fatigue from having to prepare for the job accomplishments that must be obtained
- Circulatory problems from having to sit on planes, trains, long vehicle rides and office sitting
This list could go on. These conditions are enough to show employees suffering from hypertension, obesity, mental depression, physical depravity, and a host of other medical issues.
Workers Compensation Cost:
Courts have well established that any accident, illness, and death, can be compensable since the employee is deemed in the course and scope of employment during the entire trip. This includes portal to portal (or Door to Door) from the employee’s home. Hence the employee might be in a car accident on the way to the airport and the injury would be held compensable.
Some exception may mitigate or preclude compensability if the loss is due to willful, wanton, or intentional acts. However, even when such possibility occurs the burden is on the employer to prove the denial with very strong evidence. Suicide might fall into this category. However, it can be held compensable when evidence shows that the job travel and pressure caused the depression that triggered the act.
Drug, alcohol, or any substance abuse that triggered the loss might be defensible as willful, wanton, or intentional. But again, corporate policy and very strong evidence must be produced.
There can be jurisdictional issues. Almost every jurisdiction has extraterritorial provisions in their acts that allow a non-resident employee to present the claim. It is not surprising to find many employees have chosen jurisdictions with higher benefits or better conditions than their home jurisdiction. This requires employers to have an all-state endorsement on their workers’ compensation policy.
Should the employee have to stay in another jurisdiction for medical care or recovery; controlling, monitoring and processing the claim become large obstacles.
In such instances, the claim unit should transfer the loss to their local claim office in that jurisdiction. If the employer or claim unit does not have its own office, consideration must be given to hiring a local adjuster claim service.
Begin by reviewing if the travel is necessary; can the project be accomplished from afar?
Today’s electronic capabilities are excellent. Conference meetings online with video conferencing are available, as well as the ability to share screens to view files and records with security for these uses well placed.
If physical attendance is necessary consider:
- Making the time away as short as possible.
- Try to avoid employees traveling on weekends and over holiday periods.
- Chose the most comfortable mode of travel.
- Chose hotels and motels close to the site.
- Arrange for gym memberships as most hotel gyms are limited in equipment.
- Encourage family contact be done daily. Allow at least 15 minutes.
- Ask the location to suggest restaurants that feature healthy food choices.
- Designate a company person be a travel planner and coordinator.
- Reduce daily reporting time to highlights only.
- Encourage sleep time, and arrange some free time.
- Allow the same or similar pursuits the employee does at home.
- Provide all necessary and proper tools to allow the task to be done comfortably and efficiently.
- Assigned employees that like to travel for the task.
These few items are the beginning of the items needing to be addressed. Conference with employees, travel agents and clients to establish the travel program.
Author 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 the founder & lead trainer of Amaxx Workers’ Comp Training Center, which offers the Certified Master of Workers’ Compensation national designation.
Workers’ Comp Roundup Blog: https://blog.reduceyourworkerscomp.com/
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Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker, attorney, or qualified professional.