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H.R. ALERT November 2009 from Larry Levy

Workers’ Compensation The Basics Many of you have contacted me over the past several years with questions about Workers’ Compensation. Incidentally, I am blessed with two excellent Workers’ Comp. attorneys in Novato. I thought I would devote the November H.R. Alert to discussing the insurance program’s main ingredients and your obligations as an employer with Workers’ Comp. What is Workers’ Comp.? Workers’ Comp is a legally mandated insurance program that provides treatment and some compensation for employees injured on the job. Workers’ Comp. does not apply to employees who have non-occupational (“injured away from work”) injuries. Workers’ Comp. covers medical and rehabilitation expenses for employees who are injured or become injured on the job. It also replaces a portion of the employee’s wages while the employee cannot work or if the employee dies or is permanently disabled. A complex state formula determines how much compensation an employee receives. If an employee breaks his leg on the ski slope during the weekend she/he is ineligible for W.C. She or he may be eligible for state disability or your own long or short term disability plan but not W.C. Of note, an injured employee cannot receive both Workers’ Compensation and Unemployment Insurance at the same time. Do you have to have a Workers’ Comp. policy? Absolutely. Any California employer with any employees (regardless of number) must have this policy. If you don’t, you are looking at severe financial penalties and subject to having your business closed by a state agency. Do you have to cover Independent Contractors? Since Independent Contractors are not employees you do not have to have them covered unless you have incorrectly classified employees as I.C.’s. This is a subject for a latter discussion. When does Workers’ Comp. Apply? An employee is covered when she or he works, during breaks, at meal periods, work related activities, calling on a client, attending a training session or going to a conference or seminar. Employees are also covered when they telecommute and work at their homes. Workers’ Comp. also covers illnesses over a long period of time such as those related to hazardous substances and repetitive injuries. Can Employees Sue their Employer if they are Retaliated Against while on Workers’ Compensation? Yes they can. California Labor Code Section 132a prohibits employers from discharging, threatening to discharge or discriminating against an employee who intends to file or already has filed for W.C. This is very dangerous territory because your relationship and conversation with the injured worker may be considered retaliatory even if you did not mean to do so. For example, not allowing an injured worker to accrue paid vacation while allowing others to do so, firing an employee on Workers’ Comp., etc. Employers that violate section 132a can be charged with a misdemeanor plus the employee’s Workers’ Comp. benefits can be increased by 50% to a maximum of $10,000.00. What are an Employer’s Obligations? • To ensure that employees are aware of the Company’s policies which should be documented in the employee handbook • To address Workers’ Comp. fraud through the employee handbook or memorandums to employees

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Profile for Michael OConnell

CLCA North Coast Journal November 2009  

CLCA North Coast Journal November 2009

CLCA North Coast Journal November 2009  

CLCA North Coast Journal November 2009

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