Tutorial on Workers’ Compensation

Whether you’re starting a new business or already in an established business, you need to know the basics of workers’ compensation insurance. Almost every business that has employees other than the owner is required by state law to carry workers’ comp. But you need to be careful in choosing a policy. The fact is many insurance companies can get remarkably tricky when it comes to writing policies – in their bag of tricks are such ploys as classifying the type of work your employees do incorrectly, miscalculating so-called modification factors, and making a variety of other types of mistakes which, oddly enough, result in insurance costs to you that are higher than they need to be.

Beyond needing to hold your own against your workers’ compensation insurance carrier, there’s another reason to take a few minutes to learn more about this type of insurance, namely, fraud. Workers’ compensation fraud is the second largest category of white-collar fraud in the United States today, second only to income tax evasion. According to industry observers, fraud occurs in almost a fourth of all claims. It can take the form of employee fraud (an employee who’s been in an accident claiming to be injured more seriously than he/she really is), employer fraud (harassing employees who put in claims or trying to deceive the insurance company regarding the number of the company’s employees), or insurance company fraud (wrongfully denying legitimate claims).

In many businesses, such as manufacturing and construction, workers’ comp is a major expense item – and also a major source of friction and confusion. But most business owners know little or nothing about how it works or how rates are calculated. It’s too complicated to cover in detail here, but I’ll try to touch upon most of the basics in this brief article.

Basics of Workers’ Compensation

If you are in the type of business that is mandated by state law to purchase workers compensation benefits, this is something to take seriously. In some states, notably Florida and California, businesses are getting shut down and owners prosecuted criminally for failure to carry this type of insurance. In most states you need it if you have one or more employees – California being one of the few that requires it even for one-person businesses.

In most states you can purchase an insurance policy from a workers’ comp insurance company; however in five states (OH, ND, WV, WA, WY) you must obtain coverage through that jurisdiction’s state-operated fund. These state operated funds are called “monopoly state funds.”

Note that thirteen states maintain state funds which compete with private insurers. So in those thirteen, you can buy your policy either from a private insurance company or from the state fund (CA, AZ, CO, MD, ID, MI, MN, MT, NY, OR, OK, PA, UT).

If for some reason your business is found to be especially risky, you will have to get your insurance from a so-called “assigned risk” fund, and it costs considerably more. Workers’ compensation is regulated primarily by the states (and Washington DC) so there are 51 separate sets of rules which govern benefits, premiums, and coverage. However, a so-called “rating bureau” called the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) has developed a manual used by many states to regulate how insurance companies calculate your rates. NCCI states rely almost completely on this manual, while some other states have developed their own manuals. For example, Nevada sticks closely to the NCCI manual, whereas California has developed its own manual.

Workers’ comp policies tend to seem complicated and abstruse to the uninitiated. In addition, you can’t rely entirely on your insurance agent to decipher the technical terms, options, and requirements – remember, he/she has a vested interest in selling you as expensive a policy as possible. So if your premiums turn out to be fairly considerable, it’s a good idea to have your policy reviewed by a lawyer with workers’ comp experience or a consultant specializing in this field.

For example, do you need a guaranteed-cost policy (a policy whose premiums remain the same no matter how many claims you file) or a loss-sensitive plan? The latter alternative will cut your costs but increase your exposure.

The basic formula nearly all insurance companies utilize to calculate your policy is to multiply a rate times hundred dollars of payroll. But what is this “rate”? Where does it come from? It is based on the classification of your company’s type of work performed. It’s always to your advantage to be in a relatively “safe” classification, such as clerical work, as opposed to a more injury-prone classification, such as construction. Experts warn that you should be vigilant that the insurance agent does not mis-classify your company – such a “mistake” can easily double your premiums.

What’s more, insurance companies inevitably apply an “experience” factor to your premiums. This is a circumlocution for a multiplier calculated on the basis of your company’s claims history. The more or larger your claims, the larger the experience factor.

Assigned Risk Plans Explained

So what can you do if every private insurer in your state turns down your application for insurance? In that case, you have to utilize the state’s assigned risk plan. This is expensive insurance. Yet, I’m told, many agents sell assigned risk insurance without bothering to mention it’s assigned, and the words “assigned risk” appear nowhere on the policy. Generally, rates and service are said to be better in NCCI states. However, even if your company is in an NCCI state you will probably get lower rates if you move to “voluntary” (i.e., not assigned risk) coverage as soon as possible.

Note that if you’re in a “monopoly” state – i.e, a state where there are no private insurers and you must use the monopoly state fund – you can still get put in an assigned risk plan. You should discuss this with your agent.

Some Tips Regarding Workers’ Compensation Insurance

- Your agent, working with his/her company’s underwriter, decides what classification codes to utilize in developing your premium rates, as well as the various other risk factors. Reportedly, mistakes and oversights are legion in these types of policies (usually favoring the insurance company), so review your policy carefully, preferably with the assistance of a professional who has experience in this field.

- Be sure to carefully read your policy’s Information Page in detail – it contains the most important details you need to check.

- You should be especially careful when your company hires independent contractors. If the independent contractor does not carry workers comp and is injured, you will be held responsible for all costs connected with the claim.

- Always make sure you indicate as named insured all legal entities which are in any way connected with your business. For example, if you own the building it’s in, you should be named on your policy as legal owner of the property, as well as owner of the business.

- Also you should be aware of federal workers’ comp exposures. In addition to state requirements, some federal legislation also imposes liabilities on employers. You can add coverage for acts such as the following to your workers’ compensation policy by endorsement (i.e., by adding a supplement): Federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act (benefits to miners who contract black lung disease; Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act (benefits to employees injured in maritime employment); and Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act (housing and safety benefits to seasonal and migrant agricultural workers).

The NCCI Manual is not used for calculating rates in: Delaware, California, Indiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Texas. (All other states use it.)

If either you or a professional you hire feels that your premium rates are not what they should be, based on the rules and specifications in the NCCI Manual (or other state rating manual), your initial step should be to contact your agent, say the experts, and request changes; if this doesn’t work, then you should directly contact NCCI or the appropriate state rating bureau and point out the errors in your policy as it is written.

Is your company required to pay workers’ compensation benefits to illegal aliens? According to experts, the answer depends on whether the illegal alien qualifies under your state’s statute as an “employee” working “in the service of” another under a “contract of hire.” Thus far, Ohio and New York courts have upheld the right of aliens to receive benefits; Wyoming, Virginia, and Florida have not.

Note that only Texas, among all the 50 states, does not require employers to carry WC insurance.

About Workers Compensation Fraud

Workers’ comp is a no-fault system for providing monetary benefits to injured or ill workers while at the same time shielding employers from lawsuits. But the system is wide open to fraud on a number of fronts. Employers, attempting to reduce premiums, may understate their total number of employees or misrepresent the type of work they do; workers may claim benefits they’re not entitled to, for example, by exaggerating the seriousness of an injury; even insurers themselves may intentionally miscalculate premiums and this is, unfortunately, not uncommon.

Surprisingly, it’s employer fraud that is the major type of workers’ comp fraud. According to a recent study reported by the National Commission on State Workmen’s Compensation Laws, over 13% of employers studied were operating without legally required workers’ compensation insurance. In addition, others were found to be cheating the system by intentionally misclassifying or underreporting their payroll or by falsely representing employees as independent contractors.

Of course the best-known type of workers’ compensation fraud – the kind most often covered by the media — involves workers claiming disabilities that don’t exist. Most insurance companies have in recent years set up internal Special Investigative Units (SIU’s) to deal with this type of fraud. Claims adjusters report suspicious cases to their company’s SIU’s, which then use surveillance, background checks,videotaping, medical records checks and other tools to document fraud, then turn the cases over to the Attorney General for prosecution. Criminal penalties to workers trying to game the system can be extremely severe.

As an example of how the SIU investigation system works, CompSource Oklahoma not long ago investigated a female claimant who was receiving permanent total disability benefits for back injuries from a slip-and-fall accident. The company’s SIU team found that while receiving these benefits she was listed on the Internet as an officer of an outdoor recreational club. Surveillance was set up and it was found that she was engaged in mountain hiking, carrying heavy items and other activities suggesting she was not disabled. Criminal charges were filed and a conviction obtained, resulting in a lengthy prison term.

The moral of the story is simply this: Don’t commit workers’ comp fraud. Insurance companies now employ teams of specialized investigators who will doggedly pursue a any suspicious claim and, if fraud can be proven, will press charges without any hesitation whatsoever.

Read More

Filing Your Workers Compensation Claim

If you have been injured at work, you are entitled to file a workers’ compensation claim. Although most people have heard of workers’ compensation, the actual process of filing a claim can seem alien to many. By learning a bit about the process, anyone-even if they haven’t been injured-can better understand their rights, in the event that a workplace injury should happen.

One of the most important steps of filing for workers’ compensation is visiting a doctor. By going to a doctor, you can receive a formal assessment of your injuries and how incapacitating they are. In addition, because of the possibility of false claims, a doctor helps make sure your case is a legitimate one. After you are injured, be sure to see a doctor immediately. In many cases, there are deadlines and timing restrictions for your claim, so being expedient decreases the risk of your claim not being properly filed.

It is also necessary, of course, to inform your employer of the injury and to make it known that you are filing a claim. Many workplaces will require you to see a doctor, sometimes insisting on a particular one, before you can file. If you do see this doctor, do not be afraid to seek a second opinion. By visiting a doctor with a better knowledge of your medical history, you can have a more informed assessment of your case.

Often it is necessary to appeal the result of a claim. Insurance companies and the government are often reluctant to provide help in many cases that need it, even serious ones. As a result, the appeals process can sometimes be a necessary step. Never be afraid to appeal your case if you do not think the result is in your best interests.

The actual paperwork for a claim can be found online through either your state’s workers compensation office or through the federal Department of Labor. Once you’ve obtained these forms, look through them to familiarize yourself and begin entering your personal information. At this point it would be a very good idea to bring in the help of a lawyer.

A knowledgeable lawyer, like the Philadelphia workers’ compensation lawyers at Lowenthal & Abrams, PC, knows the ins and outs of the workers’ compensation filing process. They can help you better understand the process, what you need to do, and what you stand to get. For more information, contact Lowenthal & Abrams today.

Read More

Five Surprising Things About a Cranky Co-Worker

Whether it’s the guy who interrupts every meeting with his blustering complaints or the gal who stomps around the office for no apparent reason, it’s no fun dealing with a crabby co-worker. In fact even the calmest employee has been known to lose his cool once in a while when having to contend with the antics of a sourpuss in the workplace.

The easy assumption in such situations is that the Grumpy Gus you’re up against is purposefully wreaking havoc just to needle you. That may be true in some instances, but such an explanation is more the exception than the rule. Consider these surprising things about your coworker that will help you deal more effectively with his irritability.

1) He’s not out to get you. It sure feels like he’s campaigning to get you fired, publicly embarrass you, or wants to take credit for your hard work, but the truth is you shouldn’t take his nit-picking personally. He’s not interested in taking anything away from you, per se; he’s really just interested in gaining something for himself. Use open-ended questions to figure out what it is he’s trying to achieve so you can help him redirect his poor attitude in a way that will help him accomplish his goals.

2) Other people like him. Yes, someone out there loves him. He happily participates in interests and hobbies with family and friends where he’s actually kind to other people. Try seeing the whole person instead of the small slice of negativity he gives you on a daily basis. Doing so will make it easier to show him a little compassion, which can make even the most icy of peers melt. A well-placed greeting or question about his family will have him looking at you as an ally rather than an enemy.

3) He could add value to your career goals. It may be hard to fathom, but it’s quite possible that he could actually have an idea or two about how you might take the next step in your career or how you might complete your current project with an ingenious twist that’ll get you noticed. Only looking to your buddies for feedback and advice could be a mistake. The office grouch may have a shorter fuse with what you think are new ideas simply because he’s “been there, done that.” You won’t know unless you ask, and you just might learn a thing or two in the process.

4) He has bad days, too. Assuming that he never gets up on the wrong side of the bed, doesn’t know what it’s like to have a bad hair day, or never becomes frustrated with a weight loss program puts your cranky co-worker into a superhuman category. And, you know he’s not super human, so cut him a little slack. Perhaps there are bigger issues like healthcare, family problems and financial worries that have him seeing the problems at work as minor. His poor behavior may be temporary, so it’s okay to treat it as such.

5) He may be surprised at how his actions impact you. Taking a few minutes to have a well-intentioned conversation with Mr. Crabapple could change everything. Privately asking if you’ve done something to offend him is a great way to open a discussion about his tone, body language, or approach. He could believe that he’s coming across as someone who takes his job seriously when, in fact, you’re interpreting his lack of a smile as a personal slight. He’ll appreciate a gentle and sincere approach to what otherwise could be a contentious and defensive debate.

Read More

Who Hires Data Entry Workers in a Recession?

Data entry work done from home is probably one of the most popular jobs enabling people to stay at home while earning a living online. If worked just right, it can prove to be immensely lucrative, too. Individuals can choose from varying types of processing jobs and go on to turn it into one of the most successful home businesses possible.

Data entry is fast becoming a huge industry. Legions of companies are offering genuine, legitimate jobs to anyone willing to take this kind of Internet work on. Demand for workers and the work they provide is very high in this particular industry, and it has much to offer to individuals who are willing to become part of it.

The following will provide a brief outline on how to find good data entry employers and which of them are likely to hire a person, as well as what skills and tools are required to become a truly successful, top quality data entry operator.

Today’s Online Job Market
Just like it is with any other service or commodity, supplies must meet demands. As previously stated, demand in the industry right now happens to be vast.

To meet this huge demand, unbelievable numbers of companies offering data entry work for people working from home have exploded onto the market. This is where individuals seeking work need to be extremely careful. While many of these companies springing up more or less over night are more than ready and willing to hire people, not all of these companies will still be around the next day.

The End Users
While engaging in a home based, or freelance, data entry job, people have to bear in mind that their customer, or end user, is not actually the company they happen to be working for, but the company or business who has hired the company they work for.

As it stands, data entry is needed in just about each and every imaginable industry, from mail order services and haulage firms to medical, legal, media related or general industries. This should give anyone a reasonable idea of the incredible amount of work there is actually to be done. This is without a doubt the right sort of industry for any experienced typist with excellent levels of skill.

Required Skills and Infrastructure
In order to place oneself onto the working from home, some basic requirements have to be met. While these requirements are indeed very basic, they are also absolutely essential. Where hardware is concerned, all that is needed is a computer, preferably a printer and, naturally, regular Internet access.

With these basic requirements ready in place, the business will be set to soar in no time. Necessary skills include good typing speeds, accuracy and sufficiently good skills in writing, proof reading and editing.

Options and Potential Earnings
There are many options and opportunities for jobs within this industry. Many of them involve typing basic transcripts, taking surveys, conducting research on the internet, reading e-mails, writing reviews on a variety of services, products, etc, completing marketing surveys, the list is endless. Some of the jobs may include telecommunicating.

At entry level, a worker can expect to start off with between $100 and $200 per week. Occasionally, earnings may even start at as much as $500, depending on skills and obviously available jobs. There are basically no limits to the amount an individual can earn, other than their own abilities.

Paychecks will increase significantly as an individual gains experience and a reputation for providing good work. Ultimately, this work will be a well paid full-time job.

Read More

How a Worker’s Compensation Attorney Can Help You

If you’ve been injured on the job or at work, there’s a chance you might be entitled to seek compensation or benefits for your injuries. A worker’s compensation attorney can explain the benefits you could be entitled to receive which include medical care, expenses for rehabilitation, and money back for lost wages. No matter what your situation, the first step to take is to let your employer know what has happened and then seek medical attention. Not following this process could negatively affect your case in the way of foregoing your ability to state a claim or delaying your benefits.

There are multiple reasons why people decide to consult with an attorney. Examine the following questions to determine if you should seek legal advice:

- Did your workplace injuries require surgery or leave you disabled?
– Are your injuries severe enough that you won’t be able to return to work?
– Has your employer disputed your claim or part of your claim?
– Have your medical benefits been denied?
– Do you feel as though you are entitled to receive more benefits than what you currently have?

If you answered yes to any of the above, you should meet with a lawyer who can advocate on your behalf. Most states have vocational services they offer to those who have been injured to the extent that they cannot return to their former line of work. Your lawyer should be able to help you work through the system so that you can receive training in a different line of work or financial assistance as you attempt to seek new employment.

Once you’re ready to speak with a worker’s compensation attorney, formulate a list of questions for the initial consultation. Generally, it’s a good idea to know if your lawyer has handled cases similar to yours, if she will try to settle out of court, what sorts of fees will be charged, if she is familiar with the laws in this area and if she has the time to work on your case. Most attorneys are happy to address your concerns about these things.

Most of the time, lawyers who handle cases like this are paid when you receive compensation. This is called a contingency fee. If your lawyer does not think you have a claim to make, she will be unlikely to take your case. However, it’s still wise to find out what percentage she will charge and if there are any other fees involved.

If for any reason your claim is disputed, whether by the employer or the insurance company, it is time to seek advice from a worker’s compensation attorney. The litigation process can be very complex and involves complicated rules and procedures. Unless you are highly knowledgeable on the laws in this area, it is recommended you hire someone who will keep your interests in mind at all times.

Read More

Worker Rest Periods

A certain amount of fatigue on the part of the worker is inevitable even though a company introduces ways and means of eliminating unnecessary and wasteful physical effort. This is particularly true in precision work, in monotonous repetitive jobs, and in those jobs in which there is the element of danger. Brief rest periods in which to smoke and perhaps eat or relax tend to refresh the workers, increase over-all production, and reduce un-authorized rest pauses.

The idea of rest periods is good, but their introduction depends upon plant conditions. In some concerns it might be impractical to break the continuity of work; in others the employees, particularly if on an incentive plan, may resent the break in their production.

Good, nourishing food, properly prepared and attractively served at a price the worker can afford to pay, can be an important factor in keeping the workers in good health and on the job. Eating and relaxing together in pleasant surroundings builds morale, promotes comradeship, helps to prevent fatigue, and tends to better labor relations.

Ordinarily, the cafeteria plan is preferred to the regular lunchroom or restaurant because cafeterias are less expensive to operate and they conserve time, as more persons can be served in the same length of time with fewer attendants. In addition, workers prefer them, since they can see what is on the menu for the day and can make their selection accordingly.

Some concerns that do not have a cafeteria provide box luncheons for their employees. The box lunch with milk or coffee which can be bought for a few additional amount of money serves as a fair sort of lunch, although not so desirable as the hot lunch served in the cafeteria.

The desirability of a company lunchroom depends on the number of employees and the availability of lunch facilities about the plant. A small plant or office in a large urban center will often find little demand for a company lunchroom, and such a lunchroom might be patronized only in inclement weather. Sometimes, to insure patronage, coercion of the employees to patronize the lunchroom is attempted. Under these circumstances, the company lunchroom may damage, rather than aid, morale.

In communities where recreational facilities are inadequate or where they are limited mainly to the ordinary tavern or dance-hall variety, recreation programs are frequently promoted by companies to provide wholesome relaxation and fellowship for their employees. Participating in sports or social activities breaks down barriers between individuals and is particularly helpful in promoting the assimilation of new employees into the employee group. The good fellowship created develops better co-operation, both within departments and in contacts. Sports predominate but glee clubs, bands, hobby clubs, and bridge clubs are all encouraged with the purpose of having as many employees as possible participate in the program.

Although encouraging the organization of athletic or recreational activities and sometimes aiding in financing them if needed, the company should remain in the background because company dominated clubs are never as effective as those managed by the employees themselves, and they are viewed with suspicion by the unions.

Read More

Earn Money Through Home Based Business Ideas

Many home based business ideas are there. You can earn money through babysitting. After school hours and summer holidays, if interested you can look after children in your neighborhood. One of the home based business idea is candle making. After doing a course in candle making, you can do this as a business. You can give employment to some interested people in your area.

In different colors and shapes, you can make candles. You can sell the candles by off line and online way. You can take tuition through online or offline facility. For online, you have to register with a tutoring site. Through offline, you can take classes to students in your neighborhood.

The educated and those interested people can work through online. The web is a huge resource of earning cash and you can work as part-time worker or full-time worker. You can start the career as a freelancer writer and earn decent money as well. This is one of the home based business ideas. You need to create original script. Interested people in flower cultivation can choose this as a business. You can provide employment to some other people. Flower arrangement is kept at the front office of restaurants, banks, hospitals, etc. Impart training to interested candidates on knitting and embroidery, which is another way of earning at home.

Take classes on ceramic painting, doll making, etc. to the interested people after doing a course. Retired people also learn new courses to get involved in fresh work. Learning new courses is also one of the home based business ideas. You can select any of the home based business ideas according to your choice and start the business. An example for such business is virtual assistant. Many freelancer sites are there that you can sign up. These sites provide job facility. The registered users are invited and can work for the buyer and earn money.

Providing service of part-time house maids for people is one of the home based business ideas. Many families need house-maids to do washing, cleaning, etc. You can give service to some people in this manner. Do not forget to give advertisement in regional daily with contact phone number. Another home based business is catering service. Those who are interested in cooking can definitely take this as a business. At first take small orders like arranging food at birthday parties. You can develop the business in big form when you pay proper attention to it.

Another home based business is senior citizens care. If you are interested in looking after them during day time, it is a good idea to open a day-care facility. Select some people in your area and give training like how to provide proper services to elderly citizens at the daycare facility for an enjoying stay. It improves the reputation of your service and you gain better business. Vegetable and fruit cultivation is another home based business. You can do this business and can provide employment to some people. Another business is home gardener.

Read More