We all cringe when an employee is injured. No one wants to see anyone get hurt!
But when it happens, employers need to jump in and start managing the claim immediately.
There is an amazing resource called the Stay at Work program that will save you money and make your injured worker feel like a valued member of your business.
Protect your L&I experience rating:
Your L&I experience rating determines the annual rates you pay for workers compensation insurance.
Did you know that if your injured worker doesn’t receive time loss benefits or disability from L&I, and the medical expenses for the claim are less than $2,820, the claim will not count against your experience rating?
How does this light duty work?
Here’s an example:
- Your employee has a minor wrist sprain.
- The doctor orders no work at all for one day, then the injured worker can work with some restrictions for four days while their wrist heals.
- After that, they are released back to their normal job while they do physical therapy for 12 visits.
The medical portion of the claim could be about $2,000 when you consider x-rays, doctor visits, pain meds, physical therapy, etc.
- If your worker makes $12 per hour, your costs to protect your experience rating would be $96.00 for one day to keep them on salary, and $192 for four days of light duty
- L&I reimburses you for 50% of the $384 you pay your worker
So your total out of pocket will be $288!
You’ll benefit from your employee’s work on light duty for four days, and there will be no impact at all to your experience rating.
It’s as if the claim never existed. I like that kind of magic!
Stay at Work program offers other advantages:
First of all, thanks to the Stay at Work program, your employee doesn’t lose any income because of their injury.
The employee understands you care about their wellbeing. And since they are at work every day, you can check in on how they are doing and encourage them in their recovery.
If L&I pays your worker for time loss, the employee does not receive their full pay. The base amount L&I pays them will be:
- 60% if they are single
- 65% if married
- And an additional 2% for each dependent (up to 5).
So the most they can receive is 75% of their normal pay.
But by keeping your employee on salary and offering them light duty, you are actually helping them ensure their income is made whole!
Things to keep in mind:
A couple points to remember about keeping an employee on salary:
- It doesn’t count if you make them use PTO, sick pay, vacation pay, etc.
- And you must continue their benefits as usual.
- You have to pay them for every day missed due to the injury, providing that the medical provider has certified they cannot work.
- You don’t have to pay the worker if they take time off for treatments, doctor appointments or personal reasons.
Understanding time loss, what kept on salary means, and how L&I’s Stay at Work Program functions are critical to employers to hold down their claim costs and manage their risk factor.
If you need assistance with this, L&I has Small Business Liaisons available to answer your questions at (800) 987-0154 or SmallBusiness@lni.wa.gov.