Just when you think you’ve heard it all, one of your employees stumps
you with a question you haven’t heard before. The pros at the HR Support
Center really have heard it all—at least, until tomorrow.
Here is a recent question and expert advice from HR
one of the features available to HR Support Center subscribers.
Question: Yesterday an employee went outside for a paid break and was
stung by a bee. He’s allergic and had to go the ER. Would this be
considered a workers’ compensation injury?
Answer from Eric, HR Pro:
Possibly. Whether or not this work injury qualifies for workers’
compensation benefits will depend on a few factors. The sting was not
work-related, but the employee was on the clock. Your workers’
compensation carrier will have to assess whether or not the sting arose
out of and in the course of employment. A preexisting condition or
existing illness is often only covered under workers’ compensation to
the degree that it was exacerbated due to working conditions or job
duties. I suspect it may come down to how much either party wants to
press its case. An ER visit may or may not be worth an insurance battle
and the time of the lawyers involved.
I recommend you offer the workers’ compensation paperwork to the
employee, letting him know that he must file a claim in order to receive
any worker’s compensation benefits. If the employee chooses not to file,
then ask him to put the decision in writing and note on the workers’
compensation form that the employee did not want to file a claim. Remind
him that the company will not retaliate against him either way.
In most circumstances, I recommend allowing the employee to file a claim
and contacting the carrier to inform them of any concerns. Once the
carrier has the claim and related information, they can analyze the
claim and decide how much they want to contest the benefits. In general,
it’s best to let them handle the complicated appeals and approval
process. After all, they want to control costs just like you do.
No matter how this particular claim plays out, you should inspect the
facilities and arrange for safe removal of any beehives or other pest
infestations that present a hazard.
Eric has extensive experience in HR, management, and training. He has
held several senior HR positions, including as the HR & Operations
Manager for an award-winning interactive marketing agency and as HR
Director for a national law firm. Eric graduated with a Bachelor’s of
Science in Economics from the University of Oregon with a minor in
Business Administration. Eric is also active in the community,
volunteering with the regional Human Resources Management Association
Advocacy Team and with youth training programs.
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