Workers’ compensation is designed to protect both your business and employees in the case of workplace injury. When an employee has a work-related injury, workers’ compensation helps cover medical, disability, and rehabilitation costs. This way, as an employer, you won’t have to pay directly out of pocket and you’ll have protection against further liability for a covered injury. But what else happens on the employer’s side? How does a workers’ comp claim affect the employer?
Here are 10 ways workers’ comp claims affect the employer, along with 10 ways to help you protect your business and reduce workers’ compensation costs to employers.
How Does a Workers’ Comp Claim Affect the Employer?
Employers who do not have workers’ compensation insurance for their employees can face exorbitant costs if an employee is injured. What’s more, in most states, it is against the law to have a small business that is uninsured by workers’ comp.
On the other hand, employers who do carry workers’ compensation coverage for their employees are protected from liability and from having to pay out of pocket for employee injuries. However, employers with coverage still face direct and indirect costs associated with workplace injuries.
Direct Costs for Workers’ Comp Claims and Workplace Injuries
The primary direct cost to employers is the expense of workers’ compensation insurance premiums. In return for premium payments, employers get insurance coverage. A higher number or greater severity of workplace injuries typically leads to higher premiums.
To figure out how to calculate your workers’ comp cost per employee, you’ll need to connect with an insurance provider to determine your annual premium.
Once you’ve decided on a policy, your workers’ comp insurer will perform an audit to ensure you are paying the correct amount based on the number of employees you have and their job responsibilities.
Workers’ compensation insurance premiums are based on the risk of your business experiencing claims costs, combined with the value of what is being insured. Risk is considered the potential cost of future workplace injuries and is based on the costs of past claims from employees.
To estimate your cost per employee for workers’ comp, you can use this formula:
The exact formulas that insurers use to determine the workers’ compensation premium will differ slightly from insurer to insurer. Additionally, these formulas depend on the workers’ compensation laws laid out in each state.
You can read our article to learn more about calculating workers’ comp costs per employee.
Indirect Costs for Workers’ Comp Claims and Workplace Injuries
The indirect costs to employers are the expenses that are not covered by workers’ compensation insurance. Indirect costs of workers’ comp claims are outlined in a Stanford University report and available online by the OSHA Small Business Safety Pays Program. The indirect costs are outlined below and give more insight into how much a workers’ compensation claim may cost a company.
10 Ways Workers’ Comp Claims Affect You as an Employer
- Increase in premiums – Workers’ comp premium calculations involve your business’s experience modification rate (MOD). This is based on the number of OSHA filings your business has made. If your MOD increases, your premiums will likely increase—especially if it rises above the industry average.
- Additional wages owed – You may owe wages to injured workers for any absences not covered by workers’ compensation.
- Costs of work stoppage – You may need to cover the expense of work stoppage associated with the worker’s injury. Work stoppages may also have long-term impacts on productivity and production costs, as well as demotivate your labor force.
- Overtime costs – You may incur overtime costs due to the injury. With less employees available to work, other members of your labor force will need to fill in the gaps.
- Administrative costs – You may need to cover the cost of administrative time spent by supervisors, safety personnel, and clerical workers after an injury.
- Time and expenses to train new staff – You may need to pay to train a replacement worker who can cover for the injured employee during their time off.
- Loss in productivity – You may lose productivity related to work rescheduling, new employee learning curves, and/or accommodations for injured employees.
- Cost of repairs and damages – You may have to cover clean-up, repair, and replacement costs of damaged material, machinery, and property.
- Association fees – You may have to pay OSHA fines and any associated legal action.
- Loss of goodwill – Your business may suffer from a loss of goodwill from customers and potential customers if the incident was publicized.
10 Ways To Manage the Direct and Indirect Costs of Workers’ Compensation
The good news is, as a business owner, you can take the following steps to lower your premiums and mitigate the impact of workers’ compensation claims and workplace injuries. Below are ten ways to better manage the direct and indirect costs of workers comp claims against an employer:
- Shop around to compare costs for worker’s compensation insurance.
- Make sure your employees are properly classified according to their workers’ compensation class code.
- Confirm that your insurance provider has accurate payroll information.
- Implement a safety plan customized for your employees and business.
- Hold employee safety training and workplace safety inspections.
- Submit all workers’ comp notification and claim forms on time.
- Ensure your employees know where to go for medical treatment in case of a workplace injury.
- Bring employees back to work as soon as they are able, offering modified activities if needed.
- Be vigilant about fraudulent workers’ compensation claims.
- Use OSHA’s estimated costs of occupational injuries and illnesses and estimated impact on a company’s profitability worksheet to find out how your bottom line could be affected.
At the end of the day, one of the top priorities a business must have is to properly ensure its employees are safe from injury on the job—and covered if they do become injured. The impact of direct and indirect costs to a business will differ depending on its size. Workers’ compensation claims might have less of an effect on large organizations, but, unfortunately, that’s often not the case for small and medium-sized businesses. The impact of a claim can make more of a dent into their premiums and overall costs. Small business owners should consider finding coverage from a workers’ comp provider that specifically works with and understands these challenges.