Workers’ compensation insurance benefits are available to employees who are injured or become ill as a result of a work-related incident. If one of your employees is injured on the job and is medically authorized to take time off from work, he/she will be reimbursed for lost wages (typically a percentage of regular wages) and all medical expenses related to the treatment and rehabilitation.
Here are a few commonly-asked questions regarding workers’ compensation:
What are the Reporting Procedures for Injuries and Illnesses?
If employees are injured, they should notify you immediately to file a report. This will initiate the process for receiving workers’ compensation benefits.
How are Employees Reimbursed?
Lost compensation is payable during the time period in which employees are authorized by their treating physicians. Benefits are paid weekly at a state-specific percentage rate of their average weekly wage, up to a maximum dollar amount. There is also a state-specified waiting period before benefits are available.
What is an Independent Medical Exam (IME)?
An IME is an exam by a medical professional (other than the physician who first examined an injured or ill employee). The employer (and the insurance carrier), can request an IME to confirm the original diagnosis and treatment plan.
What Happens if Employees do not Comply with Treatments?
If employees don’t follow recommended medical treatments, therapy or return-to-work plans, they may jeopardize workers’ compensation benefits. To put it simply: They might lose some, or all, of their benefits.
Controlling Workers’ Compensation Costs
There are many ways for you to control workers’ compensation costs for your small business. The most important is to convince your employees that maintaining a safe workplace is vital. Here are some other ways to control costs:
- Implement a return-to-work policy in which employees work modified duty until they are fully healthy to do their jobs. This also sends the message to your employees that you care about their well-being!
- Understand the elements that contribute to your workers’ compensation costs. Your classification codes, experience modification, company growth and company acquisitions can all affect your premiums. It is vital that you understand the impact that each brings to your overall pricing.
- Orient and train your employees on safe practices necessary for their job functions and tasks. Once training is complete, ask new employees to sign an agreement confirming that they understand company safety procedures.
- Insist that employee claims are reported promptly, as statistics reveal that for every week a claim goes unreported, the cost can increase as much as 50 percent.
- Investigate the cause of injuries and illnesses. While one injury may be behind you, others will take its place unless you do something to reduce the chance of the incident occurring again. Also, ask the injured employee how the situation could have been prevented.