5 Ways Your Workers’ Compensation Process Can Be More Employee-Centric
Warm and friendly may not be terms you’d use to describe your workers’ compensation management protocols. But what if they were?
For HR, workers’ compensation is a part of life. However, maintaining health and safety in the workplace doesn’t mean you can’t personalize functions such as documenting, following, and concluding workers’ compensation petitions. Just as you’ve done with many other responsibilities, you can give your workers’ compensation management a much-needed modern face-lift.
You can still make being compliant in the workplace a priority while exceeding injured employees’ expectations. You’ll need to follow protocols and stay on top of changing laws, which half of HR professionals admit can be a challenge, but it’s worth the effort to keep your associates’ experiences positive and reduce the risks of fines, penalties, or litigation.
When you design and share your workers’ compensation procedures from an employee-centric viewpoint, employees will be more likely to understand what to do if they need to file a claim. They’ll also be more likely to feel supported along the way.
Governing and explaining the workers’ compensation process doesn’t have to be frustrating. Ensure your workers’ compensation management planning hits all the right notes by keeping the following considerations in mind.
Make sure every hurt employee receives care and empathy.
Imagine that your employee tells you they were injured on the job. If they need immediate treatment, help them get care. And no matter the conditions, aim to be a responsive, responsible employee advocate and guide your employee through the workers’ compensation journey.
Talk about how to get medical treatment assistance, provide insurance adjuster contact information, and answer questions or concerns promptly. Suffering an injury can be confusing and scary for employees, but you can make their experiences a little less stressful.
Make sure your company carries the right level of workers’ compensation insurance.
Employers are legally required to hold workers’ compensation coverage. Why? Private employers reported 2.7 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses in 2020, or 2.7 per 100 full-time workers. Similarly, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics recorded 3.4 fatal work injuries per 100,000 full-time workers. Your organization’s plan should offer 100% medical coverage and a percentage of lost wage reimbursement for approved employee claims.
As a side note, it’s a good idea to double-check whether your insurance provides workers with the benefits they need. This is especially true if you’ve scaled up and added more people to the payroll recently.
Prioritize incident investigation.
Shifting gears and refocusing your attention can be hard when an incident occurs, but you also can’t afford not to investigate workers’ compensation-related incidents. You need to answer every event’s who, what, when, why, and how. This information is a must-have because your insurance company or third-party claim administrator will want a full update. Our central Workers’ Comp team helps oversee these investigations for our clients, ensuring that clients have the details they need to process claims properly.
Well-documented findings can help agencies like the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics stay up to date with workers’ compensation trends. For instance, trends show that injured workers under age 25 frequently return to work within a week, but workers 55 and older take at least two weeks to recover. Data points like these can inform your safety training measures.
Stay on top of your employee’s work status.
After an employee is injured, a medical examiner may recommend the employee not return to work at all or return with some restrictions. In either case, your job is to make accommodations accordingly. Could you move a laborer with medical restrictions into sedentary work? If not, could you work with a third-party entity to partner with a local nonprofit to offer temporary light-duty assignments?
No matter what plan of action you develop to bring an injured worker back into the fold, you need to keep track of your decision with solid documentation. Maintain transparency regarding start and end dates, hourly rates, attendance policy requirements, and more. If your employee has been given a “no work” status, consider partnering with your insurance adjuster to promptly ensure that any qualifying employee gets temporary total disability benefits.
Monitor all in-progress claims.
Ideally, you want every injured employee to return to work. Why? From a physical and psychological treatment perspective, hurt employees, even those with medical restrictions, tend to mend faster when they return to their work teams.
If a worker isn’t getting better, discuss potentially bringing in a nurse case manager, or NCM, with your claims adjuster. NCMs can assist with answering big questions such as “Is more diagnostic testing needed?” and “Is it time for the employee to see a specialist?”
Is it time to rethink and retool your internal workers’ compensation procedures? Maybe. If nothing else, dusting them off and polishing them up can close any gaps that might be putting your organization at risk — or leaving injured employees feeling alone. Have questions about overhauling your workers’ compensation management protocols? Contact us now.