In Massachusetts, Workers’ Compensation insurance is a mandatory coverage for employers for most businesses. If you are doing business in the Commonwealth and you have any employees, by law, you must have a workers’ comp policy. The Massachusetts Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development (EOLWD) says that, “Employers operating without insurance are subject to civil fines and/or criminal penalties, including imprisonment, and are subject to a STOP WORK order issued to their business.”
Workers’ compensation offers protection for both you and your employees:
- If an employee is injured on the job, workers’ comp will pay for all medical care, as well as providing temporary wage replacement while the employee is unable to work.
- As the employer, workers’ comp protects you from lawsuits related to a workplace injury – workers’ comp is the employee’s “exclusive remedy.”
As the employer, you have other obligations. Most important, you must provide a safe workplace. In addition, if an employee is injured while on the job, you must follow reporting requirements. According to the EOLWD:
“If you know of an injury to one of your employees, or an employee alleges an injury to you, that has resulted in five (5) full or partial calendar days of disability, you must file an Employer’s First Report of Injury Or Fatality Form – Form 101.” [NOTE: your insurance carrier may offer to file this report for you.]
The cost of a Massachusetts workers comp’ policy can vary based on a number of factors: your total payroll, the specific job functions carried out by your employees, and your loss history. The cost of insurance for safer jobs like office workers is significantly less than that of jobs for workers engaged in riskier activities, such as material handling or construction. Workers’ comp is “experience rated” – meaning that your historical loss experience is factored into the cost of insurance. Employers with no on-the-job injuries pay far less for insurance than employers who have significant losses in their recent history.
Because workers’ comp is highly loss sensitive, and because workplace injuries impact employee morale and overall productivity, it is in your best interests to prevent injuries from occurring; this involves safe hiring practices, training employees in job safety and enforcing safety standards. If an injury does occur, you should focus on prompt reporting, speeding recovery through the use of temporary modified duty and corrective actions to prevent recurrence of the injury.
Workers’ compensation is a complex and important coverage, essential for protecting your business. You can learn more about your obligations as a Massachusetts employer here:
At Cochrane & Porter, we pride ourselves on our deep understanding of Massachusetts workers’ workers’ compensation insurance policies and requirements. We can help you to obtain the right coverage for your business at the best price. We can also help you understand the experience rating process and the best practices for controlling your workers’ comp costs.