On-the-job injuries can cost your company time, productivity, money and even employee morale. These costs are compounded when you become engaged in a legal battle with your injured employee. Here are four ways you can prevent most workers' compensation claims from ever getting to that point:
- Stay in contact with the employee, and reassure the employee that he or she will have a job to return to.
Many times injured employees seek out attorneys because they are concerned about their livelihoods. Hearing that you want them back and are looking forward to their return can greatly reduce an injured workers’ anxiety.
Read more about staying in contact with injured employees
- Think hard before firing an injured employee.
Terminating an injured employee can put you at risk of a lawsuit for retaliatory discharge. It can also end up costing you more in wage-loss benefits, because injured employees will continue drawing benefits on your policy if they are unable to return to work, regardless of whether they're still employed by you. If you're having performance issues with an injured worker, see our past post on disciplining employees with work injuries for tips.
- Address disciplinary issues with employees right away.
If you need to discipline or terminate an employee, it becomes much more difficult to do so after that employee has reported a work injury. Addressing performance issues early on can save you from future problems.
Read more on dealing with problem employees before an injury occurs
- Promptly investigate any reports of retaliation or discrimination from the injured employee or coworkers.
If you hear that an injured worker is facing retaliation for declining to perform duties outside of doctor's restrictions, or being treated differently in any way, address it immediately.
Injured employees do have the right to retain an attorney if they so choose, but by giving them confidence that they'll be treated fairly, employers can lessen the likelihood that they'll feel the need to do so.
This is not intended to serve as legal advice for individual fact-specific legal cases or as a legal basis for your employment practices.