We’ve looked at how quite a few different states have changed the maximum benefit payment that workers can get when they’re out on a workers’ comp disability or injury. These maximum benefit payments are meant to help compensate the worker for their lost wages while they are stuck at home and unable to return to their jobs because of the injuries or illness that they sustained while they were on the job.
Florida is not different. Made effective as of January 1, 2007, the Agency for Workforce Innovation in the state of Florida has changed the statewide maximum weekly compensation benefit rate to be $724 per week. They got this calculation by determining the weekly average wage paid out by employers who are subject to the Unemployment Compensation Law in the state for the first four business quarters ending June 30, 2006. That total was $724.23. The Agency for Workforce Innovation then rounded that total to the nearest dollar. All of this mathematics is done according to the section 440.12 (2) of the Florida Statutes.
That is not a sum to be sneezed at by any means, and for most employees, they would be more than happy to earn that amount of money during a week for working on the job, let alone for sitting at home and recuperating. But the question must be asked about really highly paid employees at your company—or for you yourself. What if you get disabled on the job and are unable to work. If you make six figures or more a year at your job, how can you expect this weekly maximum amount of money to sustain you and your family while you are disabled.
These questions go beyond the realm of standard workers’ comp law in Florida, or any state for that matter. That’s something you need to talk over with your insurance company and broker, and with other leaders at your company. It could be that you need a special disability insurance just for the leaders at your company.
The state of Georgia leaves a lot of the initiative for handling work related injuries to you, Georgia employers. What I mean by that is that the state suggests that you or your supervisor who works with the injured employee should be proactive when it comes to an employee telling you that they’ve been hurt.
If it is the supervisor or you directly who gets this news from the injured employee, it doesn’t matter. Who ever is the representative of management to the injured worker will be the person who can most influence how this workers’ comp claim turns out. One, the reason is simply because the injured employee must feel comfortable enough with you to have reported it to you (compared to somebody else). And two, the law has certain responsibilities for the supervisor and or employer when it comes to dealing with injuries.
One of these responsibilities, Georgia employers, is to actually take the time to help out with the injury. If the accident happened right then and there, recommend that the worker go get medical help immediately if need be. Even if the case isn’t an immediate emergency, or happened a day or two ago, you should still recommend that the employee get medical attention. Remember, in Georgia, the workers’ comp system works by the employer and their insurance company having a Panel of Physicians that employees can go to for workers’ comp related medical care.
Once the employee picks a doctor to visit, you should get in touch with the doctor and fill them in on what you know about the injury, as well as what you know about the job that the employee does on a regular basis. Then you should contact the state workers’ comp department to report the injury—within 24 hours of you finding out—at 877-656-RISK.
They always say that “Georgia is on My Mind.” I lived there for a bit back in my youth, and I go back to visit every once in a while. And lucky for me, I did not get injured while I worked there. It’s not that the state doesn’t have a workers’ comp system. It does. I just don’t like getting injured. I faint at the sight of blood.
Kidding aside, I figured while we are on the topic of workers’ comp systems in the different states of the Union, I would give Georgia employers and anyone else interested a quick history lesson on workers’ comp in the state. In Georgia, workers’ comp used to be known as workman’s comp, because really, it was only men who were supposed to benefit from it. But it wasn’t but several years ago that the state officially changes the laws on the books so that it is clear that women and men can receive benefits under workers’ comp insurance.
Both sexes now are entitled to workers’ comp in Georgia as soon as they have completed their third month at an employer. In Georgia, as in other states, it is not the job of the employee to prove that someone or something else was at fault for their injuries on the job. Workers’ comp doesn’t work like, say, if a patron in one of your restaurants slips in the bathroom and tries to sue you.
Instead, with workers’ comp in Georgia, if an employer is hurt while he is working on the job for you, and working in your “best interests,” then under the workers’ comp laws you the employer are required to pay them their compensation and medical costs for their injuries and time off from work.
However, employers should note that in Georgia, working “on the clock” does not include time employees spent coming to and from work, or during their breaks.
In my research of state lunch and break laws, I have learned that Georgia is one of many states that does not have any specific state laws regarding this topic.
Although Georgia does not have a lunch and break law for those persons 16 and over, there are applicable federal rules for Georgia citizens. While Federal Law does not mandate specific breaks or meal periods, it does give guidance as to whether or not an employee should be paid during these times. Short breaks, those that are usually 20 minutes or less, should be counted as hours worked. Genuine “meal periods” are usually 30 minutes or more, and do not need to be compensated as work time. For this to be the case, however, the worker must be completely relieved of his or her duties during the meal break. If the employee is still required to do any duties (even small duties such as answering a phone), it can’t be considered a meal or lunch period and must be paid.
Federal law also contains other provisions related to employee pay during times of waiting, sleeping and traveling. Whether or not waiting time needs to be considered paid work hours depends on the situation. If an employee is allowed to do something of his or her choosing while waiting for another task to be finished or while waiting at the workplace for his or her services to be called upon, it is generally considered work time. On the other hand, if an employee is waiting to be called upon, but has great freedom to do what he or she wishes while on call (and has plenty of time to respond to the call), it is not generally considered paid work time.
Another issue I find comes up in the area of work hours is the issue of travel time. The general rule of thumb is that time spent in the normal day’s commute to and from work is not considered paid working time. However, if an employee is traveling in the course of a days work, it must be considered paid work time.
Finally, when it comes to sleeping time, an employee required to be on duty less than 24 hours is considered to be “working” even if he or she is permitted to sleep during some of those hours when not busy. If an employee is on duty more than 24 hours, a sleeping period of no more than eight hours may be deducted from work hours. However, this can only be done if sleeping quarters are provided and at least five hours of uninterrupted sleep may be achieved by the employee.
Complete information on the laws related to lunches, breaks and other pertinent labor issues can be found on the Georgia Complete Labor Law Poster.
I know that if a worker is injured on the job, they may receive medical rehabilitation and income benefits under the Georgia Worker’s Compensation law. These benefits are provided to help them return to work. Their dependents may also receive benefits if an employee dies as a result of a job-related injury.
Authorized doctor, hospital, rehabilitation, and prescription bills will be paid if injury was caused by an accident on the job. An employee is also entitled to weekly income benefits if they have more than seven days of lost time due to an injury, up to two-thirds of their regular weekly wage. When an employee is able to return to work, but can only get a lower paying job as a result of an injury, they are entitled to a weekly benefit of not more than $284 per week for no longer than 350 weeks.
In the event an employee dies as a result of an on-the-job accident, their dependents will receive burial expenses up to $7,500 and two-thirds of the worker’s average weekly wage. A widowed spouse with no children will be paid a maximum of $125,000.
In order to receive benefits, I know that there are rules employees must follow. They must:
Follow written rules of safety and other reasonable policies and procedures of the employer.
Report all accidents immediately to the employer, in writing if possible. The worker may lose the right to receive compensation if an accident is not reported within 30 days.
Cooperate with medical providers in the course of their treatment for work-related injuries.
Submit to a drug test. If an employee refuses, there is a presumption that the accident and injury were caused by alcohol or drugs.
Upon their return, an employee must attempt a job approved by the authorized treating physician even if the pay is lower than their previous job.
Employers also have responsibilities to follow. They must:
Post a list of at least six doctors or the name of the certified medical care provider, unless the Board has granted an exception. An employee may choose a doctor from the list and make one change to another doctor on the list without the permission of the employer.
Pay medical and rehabilitation expenses within the limits of the law. In some cases the employer will also pay a part of the worker’s lost wages.
Supply, free of charge, upon request, a form for reporting accidents and will also furnish, free of charge, information about workers’ compensation. The employer will also furnish to the employee, upon request, copies of board forms on file with the employer pertaining to an employee’s claim.
Post a notice of worker compensation rights in their place of business.
The Georgia Complete Labor Law poster is available detailing all the worker’s comepnsation laws as well as assisting compliance with the posting of all the Georgia labor laws.
I read that if an employee believes they have been denied workers compensation benefits, they must file a claim within one year after the date of the injury or last authorized medical treatment.
In cases of fraud, an employee can be charged with a misdemeanor, a fine of not more than $10,000.00 or imprisonment, up to 12 months, or both, for making false or misleading statements when claiming benefits.