June 12, 2018 by
Interested stakeholders in the workers’ compensation process are constantly seeking ways to reduce program costs.
One area includes the discontinuance of workers’ compensation benefits for school employees and teachers suffering from the effects of a work injury during the summer break period. While statues and case law interpretations vary in each jurisdiction, employers and insurers are generally limited in their ability to discontinue or suspend various workers’ compensation benefits for school employees during this time of year – even if they have no plans of looking for work while under restrictions on their activity.
Schools Out – Time to Discontinue Work Comp Benefits?
While the school year typically runs from late August through late May, employees of school districts around the country sustain work-related injuries every day. The ongoing effects of those work injuries do not magically disappear for summer break. Sadly, those hot summer days a teacher, paraprofessional or administrative staff employee would like to spend at a beach, can be spent at home convalescing. Proactive members of the claims management team might view this as an opportunity to discontinue ongoing wage loss and vocational rehabilitation benefits. Unfortunately, this is often not consistent with many state workers’ compensation laws via case law interpretation.
One case on point comes from Minnesota, where a school district sought to discontinue ongoing wage loss benefits at the conclusion of a school year. The rationale for the discontinuance was based on the premise the employee did not intend to work during the summer months, and the result was no loss in wages. A compensation judge rejected this argument and affirmed by the Minnesota Workers’ Compensation Court of Appeals.
[SEE FULL STORY HERE]
May 31, 2018 by
You have implemented a corporate return-to-work program, but your projected workers’ compensation savings haven’t yet materialized. Supervisors are telling you they can’t get employees back to work, and even if they could they don’t WANT them to return to work. We’ve all heard it.
It may be time to examine the impact of collateral resources, often resulting in employees out on workers compensation receiving more income and benefits than they would have if they were working.
Common Disincentives to Returning to Work:
- Salary and Wage Continuation: Some companies pay 100% of salary in lieu of having an employee collect workers compensation for injuries of short duration.
- Occupational Injury Pay Supplements: Many firms pay supplemental benefits to make up the difference between workers compensation benefits and regular earnings.
- Open-Ended Job Return: Instead of holding jobs open indefinitely, employers should hold jobs open for a specific time period, such as six or nine months.
- Vacation and Sick Time: Companies frequently allow vacation and sick time to accrue for employees on workers compensation. Some even allow employees to “borrow” more sick time if they need to stay out of work longer.
- Short-Term Disability: In some companies, disabled employees receive STD benefits in lieu of salary after six weeks. But the standard definition for disability may differ from workers comp, allowing an employee to collect both.
- Perk Continuation: Employers often maintain ancillary benefits and privileges such as car allowances, club and professional dues, company store privileges and periodical subscriptions for employees on disability.
- Loan Protection Policies: Individual insurance policies are available to pay mortgages and consumer loans such as car loans and credit card debts in the case of a disability.
- Unemployment Compensation: In a few states, an employee receiving workers comp also can qualify for state unemployment benefits.
[SEE FULL STORY HERE]