Employer’s Guide to Workers’ Compensation: What You Need to Know

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As an employer, it is your responsibility to ensure that your employees are safe while on the job. This means providing workers’ compensation coverage, which is a type of insurance that pays for medical and disability benefits if an employee is injured or becomes ill due to their work.This article will outline everything you need to know.

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As an employer, you have a legal and moral obligation to ensure the safety and wellbeing of your employees. Accidents and injuries can happen in any workplace, regardless of how many safety measures you put in place. This means providing workers’ compensation coverage, which is a type of insurance that pays for medical and disability benefits if an employee is injured or becomes ill due to their work. In this comprehensive guide, we will cover everything you need to know as an employer about workers’ compensation, from the basics to the more complex issues.

Providing Workers’ Compensation Coverage

In most states, employers are required to purchase workers’ compensation insurance from a carrier. Larger companies may be allowed to self-insure, while smaller companies with fewer than three or four employees are often exempt. It’s important to note that failing to provide workers’ compensation insurance coverage can result in severe penalties, including fines, criminal prosecution, and personal liability of the employer for any workers’ compensation benefits due to injured workers.

As an employer, you can purchase workers’ compensation insurance through a variety of sources, including private insurance companies, state-run insurance programs, and independent insurance brokers. It is important to shop around and compare quotes from different providers to ensure you are getting the best coverage at the most competitive rates. Additionally, some states require employers to purchase workers’ compensation insurance through a state-run program. Be sure to check the specific requirements in your state to ensure compliance with the law.

Duties of Employers

Aside from providing workers’ compensation coverage, employers must also perform several other duties. These include:

  • Posting a notice of compliance with workers’ compensation laws in a conspicuous place at each job site
  • Providing immediate emergency medical treatment for employees who sustain on-the-job injuries
  • Furnishing further medical attention if an injured worker is unable to select a doctor or advises the employer in writing of a desire not to do so
  • Completing a report of the injury and mailing it to the nearest workers’ compensation board office, as well as the employer’s insurance company
  • Making a written report of every accident resulting in personal injury that causes a loss of time from regular duties beyond the working day or shift on which the accident occurred or that requires medical treatment beyond first aid or more than two treatments by a doctor or persons rendering first aid
  • Complying with all requests for further information regarding injured workers by the workers’ compensation board or the insurance company

Employer Obligations

As an employer, you have several obligations under workers’ compensation laws. These include:

  • Providing a safe workplace for your employees
  • Posting workers’ compensation information in a visible location
  • Purchasing workers’ compensation insurance
  • Reporting workplace injuries and illnesses to your insurance carrier and the appropriate government agency
  • Cooperating with your insurance carrier and the injured employee during the claims process
  • Providing modified or alternative work for injured employees who are able to return to work

Employer’s Duty Not to Retaliate

It’s important to note that workers’ compensation laws not only provide remedies to injured employees but also protect employers. However, some employers may discriminate against or unjustly terminate employees who file workers’ compensation benefit claims. To protect employees from such treatment, most states prohibit employers from punishing, discriminating against, or discharging employees who exercise their rights under workers’ compensation laws.

If an employee believes they have been discriminated against or discharged in retaliation for exercising their rights under workers’ compensation laws, they may have a claim against their employer for retaliatory discharge. In a retaliatory discharge suit, the employee must convince a judge or jury that it was more likely than not that they were wrongfully terminated. The test is usually whether the employer’s action is rooted substantially or significantly in the employee’s exercise of rights under workers’ compensation laws.

Common Workers’ Compensation Mistakes Employers Make

Employers can make several mistakes when it comes to workers’ compensation, some of which can be costly and detrimental to their business. One common mistake is failing to purchase workers’ compensation insurance altogether, either because they are unaware of the legal requirement or because they think they can save money by not carrying the insurance. This can leave the employer vulnerable to lawsuits and other legal action if an employee is injured on the job.

Another mistake employers make is failing to report workplace injuries and illnesses in a timely and accurate manner. Reporting these incidents to the insurance carrier and appropriate government agencies is not only required by law, but it also helps to ensure that the employee receives the necessary medical care and benefits in a timely manner.

Employers may also make the mistake of providing inaccurate or incomplete information during the claims process, which can delay or even deny the claim. It is important to provide as much detail and documentation as possible to support the claim and ensure it is processed correctly.

Failing to provide modified or alternative work for injured employees who are able to return to work is another common mistake. This not only limits the employee’s ability to contribute to the company but can also increase workers’ compensation costs by prolonging the period of disability.

Lastly, failing to maintain a safe workplace and address hazards promptly can lead to workplace accidents and injuries. This can result in higher workers’ compensation costs, increased insurance premiums, and decreased employee morale and productivity. Employers should prioritize workplace safety and take steps to prevent accidents and injuries before they occur.

How to Reduce Workers’ Compensation Costs

Workers’ compensation insurance is a necessary expense for most employers, but it can also be a significant cost. Fortunately, there are several steps employers can take to reduce their workers’ compensation costs without compromising the safety or well-being of their employees.

One effective way to reduce workers’ compensation costs is to implement safety programs and training for employees. This can include regular safety meetings, hazard assessments, and employee training on safe work practices and equipment use. By investing in safety, employers can reduce the frequency and severity of workplace injuries and illnesses, which can ultimately lead to lower insurance premiums.

Maintaining a safe workplace and addressing hazards promptly is also key to reducing workers’ compensation costs. Employers should conduct regular inspections and assessments of their workplace to identify potential hazards, such as slippery floors or unguarded machinery. When hazards are identified, they should be addressed promptly to prevent accidents and injuries from occurring.

Developing return-to-work programs for injured employees can also help reduce workers’ compensation costs. These programs involve providing modified or alternative work to injured employees who are able to return to work but may not be able to perform their regular job duties. By keeping injured employees on the job and productive, employers can reduce the duration of disability and lower workers’ compensation costs.

Regularly reviewing workers’ compensation policies and shopping around for better rates is another way employers can reduce their costs. Employers should review their policy at least annually to ensure they have the appropriate coverage and that they are not paying for unnecessary coverage. Shopping around for insurance quotes from multiple providers can also help employers find more competitive rates.

In summary, by investing in safety, maintaining a safe workplace, developing return-to-work programs, and reviewing insurance policies regularly, employers can reduce their workers’ compensation costs and ensure the well-being of their employees.

How a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Can Help

Workers’ compensation claims can be complex and confusing for non-lawyers. If you believe your employer is not fulfilling their workers’ compensation responsibilities and duties, you may need to take legal action. Speaking with a workers’ compensation lawyer can help you understand your rights and determine your next steps.


Providing workers’ compensation coverage is just one of the many responsibilities and duties that employers must fulfill to ensure their employees’ safety. By understanding these obligations, you can protect your employees and your business from unnecessary legal and financial consequences. If you have any questions or concerns about your employer’s workers’ compensation responsibilities, speaking with a qualified attorney can help you find the answers you need.

Further reading:

Workers Compensation – Benefits and Returning to Work
A Comprehensive Guide to Workers Compensation: Everything You Need to Know
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