Employers’ Guide to Workers’ Compensation
What is Workers’ Compensation?
Workers’ compensation is a no-fault insurance system that provides medical and disability benefits for employees who suffer injury or illness because of their work.
Coverage Requirements and Premiums
With a few exceptions, every employer is required to provide workers’ compensation coverage for all its employees. Refer to Utah Code Ann. §34A-2-201.
The Utah Department of Insurance establishes basic premium rates. These basic rates are then modified to account for the risks of particular occupations and each employer’s claims history for work-related injuries and illnesses.
Employers’ are required to post notice that they are in compliance with workers’ compensation laws. These notices, which must be placed in conspicuous locations at the place of business, are available free of charge in English and Spanish at the Labor Commission and on the Labor Commission’s website on the Industrial Accidents Resources page.
Once an injury or illness has been reported to the employer, the employer has 7 days to report the claim “Employers First Report of Injury or Illness” (Form 122e) to its insurance carrier and the insurance carrier has 14 days to report the “First Report of Injury” electronically to the Industrial Accidents Division. The employer must provide a copy of the form 122e to the injured worker.
Benefits for Injured Workers
Medical care expenses that are reasonable and necessary to treat an employee’s injury or illness. This includes visits to a treating doctor, hospital bills, medicine and prosthetic devices. It also includes reimbursement for the cost of mileage to travel to receive medical treatment. Medical benefits are considered a lifetime benefit as long as the medical treatment is necessary to continue to address a work related injury or illness.
When a worker is injured, each missed day of work represents lost wages. In workers’ compensation insurance, indemnity benefits are paid to the employee to help them cover their loss of income. Payments are a portion of the worker’s average weekly wage, and take into consideration the extent of the disability.
When the death of an employee is the result of a work-related injury or illness, weekly dependent compensation is paid by the self-insured employer or insurance carrier to the surviving spouse and/or dependents.
If an employee dies from a work injury or illness, workers’ compensation will pay up to a certain amount for funeral and burial expenses.
The insurance carrier or self-insured employer may request that the dependent(s) supply copies of marriage, death, and/or birth certificates, and also relevant divorce decrees as part of the claim filing.
For more information regarding dependent death benefits and burial benefits, please contact the Industrial Accidents Division at (801) 530-6800.
Return to Work
An employee can return to work after a treating doctor releases the employee to light-duty or full-duty work release. If an employer accommodates suitable light-duty work, the employee is required to accept the work or risk losing their temporary disability compensation benefits. If an employer cannot offer light-duty work to an injured employee, the employee will be entitled to continue to receive temporary total disability benefits until the treating physician determines they are medically stable and able to return to work.
An employer may offer an injured employee a different position within their capabilities and pay the employee at the new position’s wage rate. An injured employee may be eligible for an award of temporary partial disability compensation to help offset the difference between old and new wage rates.
If a doctor determines an injured employee has a permanent impairment from a work injury or illness, the employee will be entitled to permanent partial disability compensation or in certain cases may be eligible for permanent total disability compensation.
The Utah Workers’ Compensation Act does not prohibit an employer from discharging an injured worker if the worker can no longer perform his or her job. If an employee is incapable of returning to work and perform their same job duties, an employer is not required to offer an employee a new job or retain them as an employee. If an employee has permanent partial disabilities that inhibits their ability to complete the same type of work, they were doing prior to their injury or illness, they may be eligible for rehabilitation services through the Utah State Office of Rehabilitation (USOR).
For more information regarding rehabilitation services, please call USOR at 1-866-454-8397.
Workers' Compensation Fraud
An individual fraudulently claiming workers’ compensation benefits is subject to criminal prosecution. Likewise, an employer obtaining workers’ compensation insurance by fraudulently underreporting payroll or engaging in other material misrepresentations is subject to criminal prosecution.
The Family Medical Leave Act
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), 29 CFR 825, is separate from Workers’ Compensation. This federal law requires “covered” employers to provide up to 12 weeks of unpaid job protected leave to “eligible” employees for certain family and medical reasons.
For additional questions related to FMLA please visit: www.dol.gov/whd/fmla/ or call the U.S. Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division, Salt Lake City District Office at 1-866-487-9243.
The Americans with Disabilities Act
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 28 CFR 37 makes it unlawful for an employer to discriminate in employment against a qualified individual with a disability. The ADA requirements apply to employers with 15 or more employees.
Whether an injured worker is protected by the ADA will depend on if the person meets the ADA definition of an “individual with a disability.” The person must have an impairment that substantially limits a major life activity, have a “record of” or be “regarded as” having such an impairment. Also, she/he must be able to perform the essential functions of a job currently held or desired, with or without accommodations.
Clearly, not every employee injured on the job will meet the ADA definition.
If an employer feels their employee may meet the requirements and an employer has questions regarding their responsibilities, they should contact the Utah Antidiscrimination and Labor Division of the Utah Labor Commission at: (801) 530-6800