Posts Tagged ‘Workers’ Compensation’

Winter Months Bring Seasonal HR Challenges

Thursday, November 10th, 2016

Winter months are just around the corner and with them comes colder weather.  We don’t get as much “white stuff” as our Northern Brethren but when we do things get messy.  Be reminded that employee injuries on employer owned and maintained parking lots may be covered by workers’ compensation and may be OSHA recordable depending upon circumstances relating to the injury.  If injuries occur at a reasonable time (just prior to or just after work) and injuries result in medical treatment, days away from work or restricted activity, both workers’ comp and OSHA record keeping come into play. winterweather

Winter weather poses a particular problem regarding parking lot and sidewalk injuries.  Both should be maintained free of snow and ice to prevent employee injuries.  Potential costly injures to customers, vendors and to the general public would not be covered by workers’ compensation but by an employer’s liability insurance.

Employers also need to be aware of the dangers of overexertion in winter months.  Liberty Mutual Insurance Company conducted a study a few years ago revealing that more than 25% of disabling workplace injuries resulted from overexertion.  Overexertion also poses a major threat to ones’ health and life outside of work, especially in geographical areas that experience extreme snow and ice accumulation like the Northeast this past winter.  Around 100 people die in the US every winter as a result of shoveling snow. For more tips dealing with colder weather go to https://www.ready.gov/winter-weather.

Perhaps a more vexing issue we deal with each year surrounds pay practices during inclement weather.  Exempt employees are paid on a salaried basis. If the company is closed, the exempt employee must be paid for the day(s) to maintain the exemption status. It is the company’s decision as to whether or not exempts are required to take a vacation day.  Keep in mind that if the exempt does not have vacation or PTO to cover the absence, the exempt must be paid.

If the office is open and the exempt decides not to report to work, the day can be charged to vacation or PTO. If in this situation the exempt does not have vacation or PTO, the company is allowed to dock for the day due to personal reasons. This is one of the allowed deductions under the FLSA without destroying the exemption status. Be reminded, however, that if the exempt works any part of the day, the exempt must be paid for the entire day. This often comes in to play when the exempt does not come into work but works a partial day from a laptop or other electronic device.

If you have more questions regarding your Inclement Weather Policy, contact CAI’s Advice & Resolution team today.

Drug Testing Can Greatly Reduce Workers’ Compensation Costs

Tuesday, August 9th, 2016

According to CAI’s most recent Policies and Benefits survey, 30% of employers are not conducting drug tests.  Besides the obvious benefits of having a drug-free workplace, another side benefit from drug testing is that it may reduce your workers compensation costs.  On the one hand, employees who are under the influence are more likely to experience injuries to themselves or others.  So the knowledge that you conduct post-accident drug and alcohol testing will dissuade most employees and therefore reduce accidents and costs.drugfreezone

Also, under the North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act, no compensation will be paid for a workplace injury or death if it was proximately caused by, among other things, the employee’s intoxication, provided the intoxicant was not supplied by the employer (company social event) or being under the influence of a controlled substance listed in the North Carolina Controlled Substances Act (G.S. 90-86) unless it was prescribed by a doctor and the prescribed dosages were being followed.  Note, there isn’t an automatic denial of claims due to intoxication but odds are in the employer’s favor unless it can be proven the accident was in no way related to the “altered state” so to speak.

The best way to increase the odds that such claims will be denied is to incorporate a comprehensive drug and alcohol testing policy. Without such a policy, denial of workers compensation claims due to being under the influence may be harder to achieve.

North Carolina employers who drug test are required to comply with the NC Controlled Substances Examination Regulation Act which regulates notice requirements to examinees, requires approved laboratories and chain of custody safeguards, specifies conditions for applicant and employee testing, requires confirmation tests on positive samples, and entitles an employee who tests positive to have a retest, if requested, of the same sample at the employee’s expense.

Many states have a provision in their Workers’ Compensation law disqualifying an employee for compensation if the injury was caused by being under the influence of drugs or alcohol.  A number of states also give discounts on Workers’ Compensation premiums (generally 5-7%) for implementing a Drug-Free Workplace Program.  CCH, the Members-only resource, provides State Law Summaries on Workers’ Compensation laws.

The US Department of Labor has resources for developing a drug-free workplace program.  While this is a requirement for federal contractors, the resources are helpful to all employers.  Consult the state law for specific requirements in other states.  Our drug-testing partner, PDSS, is also a resource for policy development, testing, and in-depth expertise in this area.

CAI encourages drug-free workplaces. Learn how drug testing programs can increase the efficiency and productivity of your organization at CAI.

Don’t Make These 4 Common Mistakes When Filling Out an I-9

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

The I-9 form can be a tricky document for employers. The government has created specific rules that must be followed when completing the deceivingly simple document. Your organization may be penalized and fined if the regulating agency discovers incorrect information or mistakes in your employees’ I-9 forms. To stay compliant with state and federal regulations, avoid these common I-9 mistakes:

1.  Does Everyone Have an I-9 Form on File?

Your organization should have a correctly completed I-9 form for every employee. Making sure that you do is important to stay in compliance. If the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency conducts an audit or investigation and learns that you’re missing forms for any of your employees, you will most likely be fined.

2.  Missing and Misplaced Information

Missing and misplaced information are mistakes that can easily be avoided if you and your employees spend adequate time filling out the documents and reviewing for errors. Here are some examples of information that is frequently misplaced or left out: wrong date, no signatures and information in incorrect boxes.

3.  Not Following the Three-Day Rule

You are required to complete a new hire’s I-9 form within three days of his first day of paid work. After an applicant has been offered and has accepted the job, ensure the new employee is aware of the types of acceptable identifying documents they may choose to provide to accurately fill out their I-9 forms. Helping your employees prepare for their first day of work will help you steer clear of potential fines.

4.  Incorrect Corrections

If there is incorrect information on an I-9 form, do not use a marker to cross out the information. Using white out is another mistake that employers often make when trying to correct information. Failing to initial and date corrections will also make an employee’s I-9 form erroneous. If these mistakes are made and the document lacks clarity or is not easy to follow, filling out a new form is appropriate. Make sure the original document is attached to the new one. Never backdate changes.

For more information on staying compliant with state and federal regulations, please join us on May 2nd and 3rd at the McKimmon Center in Raleigh for the 2012 Employment and Labor Law Update. The conference will feature experienced lawyers from Ogletree Deakins who will update you on the most recent regulatory and legal changes affecting employers. Some of the topics they’ll discuss include the ADAAA, Workers’ Compensation and Healthcare Reform. You can register for the event and see the additional topics here: www.capital.org/lawupdate.

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