One of the critical elements for businesses in the United States is Workers’ Compensation. Workers’ Compensation is the state-managed system where workers who are injured in work-related incidents can be compensated for their injuries, including medical care and permanent impairment compensation. In most states, it entirely replaces the employee’s rights to litigate the injury in a traditional court. No matter what state or states your business operates in, here are some Workers’ Compensation facts that every business needs to know.
Workers’ Compensation Requirements
Workers’ Compensation programs are entirely in the hands of state governments and requirements do vary by state. If a business has employees in multiple states, the business will need to research in depth each state’s requirements. For example, some states require Workers’ Compensation insurance while others allow businesses to self-insure. Professionals, like those at Bachus & Schanker Law, know that some states do not require Workers’ Compensation participation for businesses with less than a specified number of employees. Speaking to an attorney familiar with Workers’ Compensation in each state you do business in is a key component of ensuring compliance with state requirements.
Workers’ Compensation and Administrative Resources
If a business is large enough to fall into the state’s Workers’ Compensation program requirements, the business should plan some internal resources for administration. This may be someone within your organization whose job is partially or wholly to administer Workers’ Compensation claims. There are businesses that specialize in claims administration and can ease the internal resource burden on businesses. Some states will require the business to name a program administrator outside of the organization.
Beware of HIPAA and Potential Discrimination Claims
Workers’ Compensation begins the second an employee is injured and doesn’t end until the employee has been made whole for the injury, including medical expenses and compensation for any permanent impairment. In many cases concern for the employee within the business, in addition to the desire to mitigate liability, creates a desire for access to more medical information than is necessary for claims administration. Information sharing may raise concerns with HIPAA privacy regulations if information is shared too liberally. Additionally, businesses must carefully manage information regarding any permanent limitations on the employee or risk possible discrimination claims under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Consulting with an attorney or professional Workers’ Compensation administrator can help businesses navigate the risks described above and develop a comprehensive plan for Workers’ Compensation administration. Developing a comprehensive program prior to employee injuries will help businesses ensure costs stay low and internal resources are not wasted. When combined with a safe work culture, an effective Workers’ Compensation program will also help employees stay confident that the business cares for them.