Most small business owners are rightfully concerned about the risk of workers’ compensation fraud. You see it on the news, read about it online, and are worried that someone might attempt to take advantage of the system.
In reality, fraud is relatively rare. It does happen, and there are several steps you can and should take to minimize its risk and cost, but most people are truthful about injuries in the workplace. One thing few business owners prepare for, however, is employees who refuse treatment, hide injury or avoid filing for workers’ compensation altogether.
It’s a common practice, though, and there are several reasons for it. To ensure your team members are filing when they should and not putting themselves at greater risk of injury watch for these potential situations.
FEAR OF LOST TIME
Some people simply don’t want to miss time on the job. The thought of sitting at home and recovering or getting stuck at a desk on light duty is too much for them and they actively avoid filing claims for anything but the most significant injuries.
The problem with this is that you, as an employer are under legal obligation to report all injuries, and to ensure your employees are physical capable of performing their duties. While it is the employee’s right to refuse to file for workers’ compensation, you must still report the injury, and adjust job duties if necessary. Communicate this clearly, in combination with vigilant oversight from your managerial staff to ensure no injuries go unnoticed.
AVOIDANCE OF DRUG TESTS
While rare, some employees will hide injuries or refuse treatment because they fear the return of positive drug tests. It makes more sense for them to continue working while injured than to risk losing their job and potential compensation because of a lapse in judgment.
Whatever the circumstances, this is a very serious situation, and one that can and should be dealt with through detailed, methodical documentation of all injuries, and a clear injury procedure. If someone is hurt on the job, it’s important to follow the same steps to ensure safety above all else.
FEAR OF RETALIATION
Retaliation litigation has become much more common in the last decade as employees who believe they have been mistreated because of filing claims have spoken out. And yet, in many workplaces, employees continue to remain silent for fear that their managers will retaliate against them for filing a claim. Whether for fear of lost hours, reduced duties, or less than desirable reassignments, fear can keep legitimately injured people from filing their claims.
Proper training of your management staff is vital to ensure no one is ever under the impression that they will be mistreated for filing a claim.
REFUSAL TO FILE
Whatever the circumstances, be sure you follow your policies to the letter and document every part of them. It is still possible for an employee to refuse care and to refuse to file for workers’ compensation on their own behalf. Despite this, you must file the injury report and go through the proper channels to ensure it is logged and workplace duties are adjusted accordingly.
Learn more about how workers’ compensation costs can be reduced with proper policy implementations and return to work programs from our resource library.