Let me make it clear to you, Hawaiian employers. In the Hawaiian system for workers’ comp, the responsibility rests with you to produce any evidence and proof that a supposed workers’ comp injury is actually not work related. And if you don’t, expect your injured employee to get medical benefits and disability compensation. This responsibility also places the burden on you to follow the regulations of the state workers’ comp system to a tee, and to make sure you keep the most accurate records of any and all accidents or injuries.
You’ll want to do this, of course, for all injuries that are for real too. Keeping the best records, injury reports, and other forms and saving them in a administrative system that makes it easy to track them down when you need them can help you save time and money in the long run when it comes to your workers’ comp claims.
One of the first steps to this accurate and up to date records system is following the procedure in Hawaii when it comes to injury reporting. As soon as an injury occurs, your employees should know to report it to you or their direct supervisor at your company. It’s at this point that you then fill out an Employer’s Report of Industrial Injury, or WC-1, form. This is required to be submitted within seven working days, and you should fill this out and get it in on time even if you don’t think the injury is truly work related.
If you want to make sure your employees know that need to report their injuries to you in a timely manner, be sure to follow the state rule that says you must post all of your workers’ comp info, including the employees’ rights, their responsibilities when an injury occurs, and what sort of benefits the employees can get.
We got another live one here, folks, and by “live,” I mean in jest that we have a state that is a bit different than the others that we’ve looked at so far in these blog entries about workers’ comp across the states. The state we’re talking about here in the Rainbow State, or Hawaii.
Hawaii’s workers’ comp laws are similar to other states in that they require that employers with one or more employees have workers’ comp coverage for those employees. These workers can include those that put in full time or part time, and those that you would consider permanent or temporary workers.
What sets Hawaii’s set of rules on workers’ comp apart from other states’ rules is that Hawaii has a list of job types that can be excluded from employers’ workers’ comp coverage. Some of these exclude jobs include volunteers or other unpaid workers for religious groups, educational groups, nonprofits, or other charities.
Excluded workers also include students who are working for their school, university, college or school club, in order to get free room, board, or school tuition. A duly ordained, licensed or commissioned priest, rabbi, or minister is also excluded from you having to cover them for workers’ comp in Hawaii.
Domestic workers who don’t make more than $225 per quarter, and even real estate brokers and agents who get paid solely on commission don’t have to have workers’ comp for them either. These are just some of the jobs on this list of excluded ones.
One thing that Hawaii has in common with other states is that it requires its employers to post printed statements or posters in their work sites, which declare their workers’ rights when it comes to workers’ comp, and how they can claim benefits if they are injured.
I find that employers and employees alike are often interested to know what laws apply to the lunches and breaks that workers may take. In Hawaii, the state law only regulates the meal breaks for employees under the age of 16. State law mandates that employees ages 14 and 15 be given a 30 minute meal break if they have worked five hours or more. This may be an unpaid break.
While Hawaii law does not have any lunch and break provisions for workers 16 and over, residents of Hawaii are covered by applicable federal rules in this area. You might be interested to know that federal law does not mandate specific breaks or meal periods, but 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. True “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 minor duties such as answering a phone), it can’t be considered a meal or lunch period and must be paid.
Federal law also contains regulations 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 read a magazine or do something else of his or her desire 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.
When it comes to 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.
Another issue I find sometimes comes up is the issue of 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 subtracted from work hours. However, this can only be done if sleeping facilities are provided and at least five hours of uninterrupted sleep may be achieved by the employee.
A thorough presentation of state and federal laws relating to lunch and break law may be found on the Hawaii Complete Labor Law Poster. This poster also features information on many other state and federal labor law requirements.
Work-related accidents and illnesses happen, and when they do, employees are covered under the Hawaii Workers’ Compensation law. This law provides wages and medical care to employee, and prohibits a worker from filing a civil action against the employer for work-related injuries or illness.
I know the law applies to employers with one or more employees, working full-time or part-time, permanent or temporary. In the case of a claim, the employer carries the burden of producing substantial evidence to rebut a claim for a covered work injury.
In the event of a work injury, a worker should immediately report the injury to their supervisor/employer. The employer should then file a claim to the Hawaii Disability Compensation Division within 7 working days.
An employer is prohibited from requiring an employee to contribute towards compensation insurance premiums. Self-insured employers must furnish proof of financial solvency and ability to pay benefits and must be approved by the Department.
Each employer shall post a printed statement concerning benefit rights, claims for benefits, and other matters relating to the administration of the workers’ compensation law. The Hawaii Complete Labor Law poster offers a dedicated section just for workers compensation information to be posted. Each employer shall furnish within three working days of notice of injury to each injured employee a copy of the Workers’ Compensation Law brochure.
I read that injured workers receive benefits that include:
- Medical treatment, including surgical and hospital services and supplies related to the injury. The injured employee is entitled to choose the treating physician.
- Temporary total disability benefits paid as long as a worker is certified disabled from work by a treating physician.
- Permanent partial disability benefits paid to the employee when an injury results in a loss of use of specified portions or functions of the body.
- Permanent total disability benefits if the injured employee cannot return to work because of the injury
- Disfigurement payments due an employee for scars as a result of laceration or surgery; this can include deformity and discoloration.
- Death payments to a surviving spouse and dependent children in work-related death cases.
- If unable to return to usual occupation, injured employee may receive career counseling, testing, training, and job placement.
If there are any issues which cannot be resolved or if a claim is denied, either the worker or employer may request a hearing, and a decision will be made within 60 days after the hearing.
I understand that if an employer does not have coverage for its employees, the injured employee may contact the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations Office.