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Work Comp for Employers: Your Rights and Responsibilities

March 27, 2024 • Missouri Employers Mutual

As an employer, ensuring your employees’ safety and well-being is paramount. Unfortunately, incidents and work-related illnesses can happen, and understanding work comp insurance and your rights as an employer is crucial in protecting both your employees and your business.

What is workers compensation?

Work comp is a mandatory insurance program that provides financial protection to employees injured or ill on the job. It covers:

  • Medical expenses: All necessary medical care related to a covered work-related injury or illness, including doctor visits, surgery, medication, and rehabilitation.
  • Lost wages: If a covered employee is unable to work due to their injury, you’re not responsible for their full wages. Workers compensation may cover a portion of their lost income.
  • Vocational rehabilitation: If an injury prevents an employee from returning to their previous job, work comp may help fund their training for a new career path.

Benefits of work comp include:

  • Reduced financial liability: Work comp covers many of the costs associated with employee injuries, shielding you from potentially significant financial burdens.
  • Improved employee morale and retention: Knowing they’re protected in case of injury can boost employee morale and encourage them to stay with your company.
  • Compliance with state laws: It’s mandatory to carry workers compensation insurance for most employees in most states. Failing to do so can result in hefty fines and penalties.

Your Responsibilities as an Employer

Creating a safe work environment isn’t just about following the rules – it’s about fostering a culture of safety that prioritizes both employee wellbeing and company success. Here, we explore two key pillars of your responsibilities as an employer: prevention and response.

Prevention:

  1. Leadership commitment: Safety starts at the top. Demonstrated support from management sets the tone for everyone.
  2. Clear policies: Establish clear and written safety guidelines for different departments and situations.
  3. Safe work practices: Discuss safety rules, address concerns, and promote accountability through regular meetings. Implement proactive steps like inspections, drug-free policies and training for new hires for safer work environments.
  4. Continuous improvement: Documented processes for addressing hazards and unsafe behaviors show a commitment to making things safer. Regularly inspecting workplaces, tools, vehicles, and equipment identifies and eliminates potential hazards before incidents occur.

Response:

  1. Clear reporting: Ensure prompt and documented reporting of injuries by establishing a clear policy.
  2. Quality medical care: Provide access to approved healthcare within your network to prioritize employee recovery.
  3. Investigations: Conduct thorough investigations to understand incidents and prevent future occurrences.
  4. Timely communication: Report injuries to your insurance carrier within 24 hours for compliance and timely claim processing. Communicate consistently with injured employees and insurance carriers for a supportive environment.

By implementing these key steps, companies can build a culture of safety that protects employees and fosters a more successful organization.

Programs that Positively Impact Claims

Employers should also be working with their insurance carrier to create programs that will improve claims outcomes and keep work comp costs down. Three examples include:

  • Cost-saving programs: Utilize insurance carrier programs like nurse triage, telemedicine, bill savings and case management to optimize benefits and minimize costs.
  • Directed medical care: Many states allow employers to choose a network of qualified medical providers for work-related injuries. This can ensure employees receive consistent and appropriate care, potentially accelerating recovery and reducing costs.
  • Return-to-work programs: Implementing a return-to-work program can help injured employees safely reintegrate into the workplace as soon as possible. This can not only benefit their recovery but also minimize long-term disability costs and maintain employee morale. Because not all employers can offer light duty, MEM offers a program that provides modified duty with nonprofit organizations for injured workers. You and your employees can get back to work and give back while doing it.

By understanding your obligations and taking proactive measures, you can create a safe work environment, minimize workplace injuries, and ensure your employees receive the support they need if injured on the job. Employers and employees must work together to make safety and health a priority.

Date
March 27, 2024
Author
Missouri Employers Mutual
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