By Beth Giebel, Esq.
It might seem strange to think about workers' compensation claims during a time when many employees aren't working, but at schools the summer months can present high potential for workers' compensation exposure.
Why? Because disability benefits tend to drag out longer when there's no incentive for employees to secure releases from their doctors to return to work.
For example, if a teacher has a knee surgery right after the school year ends, his or her doctor might simply restrict the employee from working until just before the start of the next school year. Had the surgery occurred during the school year, the teacher might have felt an urgency about returning to the classroom as soon as possible, and therefore, been back to work sooner than three months.
These extended wage-loss benefits increase the costs of the workers' compensation claim, which can ultimately drive up the school’s future workers' compensation premiums.
How to control your workers’ compensation exposure over the summer
So what can you do about it? First, make every effort to get injured employees back to work at full wage before the end of the school year if possible. That shows that the employee's earning potential has been restored, and there's no need to continue wage-loss benefits.
If that's not possible, it's important to stay in contact with injured employees over the summer to secure doctors’ releases as soon as they are medically able to work. This can be difficult after the school year ends, so make sure employees know you'll be in touch and get current contact information.
This is not intended to serve as legal advice for individual fact-specific legal cases or as a legal basis for your employment practices.