It’s your duty as an employer to provide a safe workplace for your employees. Moreover, it’s a legal obligation. However, accidents still happen, no matter how many precautions employers take and how strictly they enforce safety standards.
In the event of a workplace injury or illness, an affected employee may require emergency medical assistance and, possibly, prolonged hospitalization. The employee will also seek some form of payment for the wages lost during their recovery. Failure to provide this compensation may lead to unwelcome litigation.
For this reason, almost every state within the U.S. requires business owners to purchase a workers’ compensation policy. The insurance coverage protects both employers and employees from having to pay for medical expenses out of pocket. It also sets up a process for negotiation should an employee reject the compensation offered for their injury.
Purchasing a Policy
The process of purchasing a workers’ comp varies significantly across states, so make sure you understand the rules and regulations for your business’ location. In states with monopolistic state funds for workers’ comp, employers do not have the option of purchasing a policy from a private insurer. In states with competitive funds, employers can opt to use that state fund or buy coverage elsewhere.
While workers’ compensation provides financial security for worst-case scenarios, prevention is the best policy. Employers need to actively seek safety solutions based on their unique needs to avoid injuries from ever occurring.
The Department of Labor works to ensure that all businesses adhere to health and safety standards. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) enforces adherence to the laws, encompassing all employer health and safety responsibilities. These duties include:
- Providing a workspace free of recognized hazards
- Ensuring employees have safe tools and equipment
- Training workers to use the equipment and ensuring the equipment is certified
- Creating and communicating operating procedures
- Keeping a record of any work-related injuries or illnesses
Providing Policy Information
As an employer or business owner, you not only have to adhere to safety protocols and purchase workers’ comp coverage, you also have to communicate the stipulations of the policy to all employees. Your employees should know what benefits they’re entitled to, what injuries and illnesses make them eligible for benefits, and how to file an insurance claim.
When a work-related injury occurs, the employer must provide the injured employee with all the necessary paperwork and submit their claim to the insurance provider.
The Claim and Compensation Process
Once the employer submits the claim, the insurance provider will review all the information, including assessments from medical professionals, and determine a monetary amount to offer the injured employee. Or, if they deem the injury outside the purview of the workers’ comp policy, they will deny the claim.
How does a workers comp claim affect the employer? If the employee accepts the compensation package offered by the insurance company and circumstances allow, some employers develop a return-to-work plan for the ill or injured employee. If the employee rejects the compensation offer, then the employer’s legal representative must enter negotiations to determine a fair settlement. Settlements can come in the form of a lump sum payout or installments.
Whenever an accident occurs in the workplace, you want to deal with it quickly and amicably. If an injured employee feels they receive unfit treatment or compensation, nothing prevents them from sharing their experience with other employees and the media.
Of course, all employers hope their employees never face a workplace injury or illness and have to file a workers’ compensation claims. However, the insurance coverage exists to account for the unexpected. As an employer, your job is to create a safe and work-conducive environment, follow legal health and safety standards, and provide employees with the guidance and training they need to stay safe while on the job.