Montana employers, make sure that your employees know what to do when an injury strikes them at the job. This is one of those things that educational materials can do wonders for, such as a workers’ comp poster in your lunchrooms. These posters can tell your employees just what they are supposed to be doing if they get hurt on the job. The posters can provide information such as the name of your workers’ comp insurance company, as well as contacts for your workers’ comp insurance adjuster.
Other education materials for this topic can include the workers’ comp information sheets. These sheets can be given to your new employees on their orientation days so they learn right off the bat what your policy is and the what the policy of the state of Montana is when it comes to reporting injuries, You can even post an electronic copy of this workers’ compensation information sheet on your Web site so that online employees can access the same educational materials and print them out at home if needs be.
What will all of this information tell your employees about their role in the workers’ comp system in Montana? Well, it will tell them a lot of the same stuff that it would tell them if they were employees if most any other state. Namely, it is their responsibility to report their injuries to you the employer or to their direct supervisor as soon as possible after the actual incident.
Then it is up to you the employer to fill out the First Report of Injury and Occupational Disease that must be sent in to the insurance carrier handling your workers’ comp coverage. You could have a system if you are a big enough employer to have these forms sent to a central location in your organization, such as your loss control expert in your human resource department or your risk management department.
Montana has its own particular issues when it comes to workers’ comp. And we’re not using the term “issues” to mean problems. No sir. We mean that Montana, as with every other state that we’ve looked at so far in this blog, has its own set off rules and regulations that employers need to be aware of if they are going to hire employees and do business in the state.
In the state of Montana, employees must have workers’ comp insurance as defined in the particular law of the land, which is called the Montana Workers’ Compensation and Occupational Disease Acts. In Montana, the laws give the employers the choice of getting this insurance through an insurance company that is authorized and licensed to provide such insurance in the state.
If employers in the state choose this option, they can expect to get charged by their insurance company for what is called a surcharge amount. The state of Montana mandates that every workers’ comp insurance company collect from its policyholders, or employers, as soon as the insurance company collects the premium for the workers’ comp policy.
The surcharge counts as an administration fund, and there is also another surcharge for the next injury fund premium. Then the insurance company has 20 days to pass that surcharge along to the state. If not, the insurance company can even face fines and added interest if it doesn’t get that money in to the state workers’ comp department in time.
An employer in the state of Montana can also choose to go the self-insurance route. We’ve talked about this strategy before, but basically what it comes down to is that the company uses its own money to pay off injuries claims, instead of paying an insurance company a premium so it can pay off those claims.
I’m aware of some unique items in the Worker’s Compensation plan in Montana, and I thought those were worth repeating. Even if you are familiar with Worker’s Compensation (some people call it “workman’s comp”) you may not know exactly how the process works.
Worker’s Compensation is a system of insurance premiums paid by employers and benefits that are received by qualified employees. The State of Montana works hard to handle worker’s compensation claims quickly. Their office of Employment Relations promises to process orders for worker’s compensation and claimants within 14 days. They’re also working to create an Internet service so that employees can simply log onto the website and apply for worker’s compensation. In my opinion, this will greatly reduce their paperwork flow, plus it will speed up the application process for everyone who applies.
Another interesting thing I noticed is that Montana’s Workers Compensation Regulation Bureau is creating a website where all known medical treatments that are recommended by the professional licensing board of practitioners will be posted within ten days. This will help consumers, employees, insurance companies, and all agencies that are involved in a worker’s compensation claim to understand the appropriateness of medical treatment the employee may be receiving. Decisions can be made more easily because everyone will have access to the same information.
In January 2006, the Worker’s Compensation First Report of Injury form was revised. If you are an employer, I’m sure you want to get the updated version of the form for your files. Another change that happened in May 2005 should be noted. That is as a result of SB108, independent contractors can file a form for an exemption and waive their right to worker’s compensation. The fee for this waiver has been raised to $125, and documentation is required to show that the person is in a business.