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As a caring small business owner, you want to take good care of your employees. And you have a legal obligation to make sure they're safe and taken care of if they are injured on the job.
You likely just pay into your state's workers' compensation insurance fund automatically, but is that all you need to worry about? Here are some of the biggest questions small business owners have about workers' comp:
Your legal obligations as a business owner may extend beyond just kicking in for workers' comp tax. These obligations may vary depending on the size and kind of business you're running, and will probably include a thorough investigation and report of the incident.
Workers' compensation insurance is designed to cover the healthcare costs and missed income if an employee is injured on the job. But which injuries qualify? Generally speaking, workers' comp covers pre-existing conditions that are aggravated by current work, diseases stemming from exposure in the workplace, injuries incurred on-the-clock (this includes meal and rest breaks), and mental and physical strain and stress.
Some of your legal obligations will include maintaining safe working conditions for your employees under Occupational Safety and Health Administration guidelines, which can mean anything from requiring the proper footwear to keeping extensive records of occupational injuries and illnesses.
What if an employee was violating a company safety rule or policy at the time of an accident? Can you punish them the same way you would had they not been injured? The answer is a definitive "maybe." Employers, however, need to be careful any discipline is not considered retaliation by the OSHA.
Hope for the best, prepare for the worst, as they say. And in a worst-case scenario of worker injury, a spouse, children, or other dependents may be entitled to insurance payments. Here's what you need to know.
If you have more questions about your rights and responsibilities when it comes to workers' compensation claims and insurance, contact an experienced workers' comp attorney in your area.