Top 7 Practices to Stop HR Issues from Getting Mixed Up With L&I Claims
Lots of things can go wrong when HR issues get mixed up with L&I claims. Luckily, there are a set of best practices that can protect your company while permitting reasonable disciplinary actions.
With these best practices in place, it’s even possible to demonstrate that time-loss and/or Kept on Salary are not appropriate for any days that the employee is suspended due to a disciplinary matter.
In other words, once your employee has accepted a light duty position, he or she can still be suspended — even immediately — for documented violations, as long as it’s consistent with company policy for every employee.
Best practices to enforce workplace rules and discipline with an L&I claim
These best practices must apply to all employees, not just the injured ones, so let’s start with the steps that come before a claim is even filed:
Do these now
- 1. Develop clear company policies in an employee handbook, then document with signatures that employees have received and understand the policies. Approach can provide templates.
- 2. Don’t paint the company into an inflexible box. Build flexibility into your program, you may need it.
- 3. Create disciplinary tools such as Corrective Action Forms and 3 written warnings. Inform workers about these policies, train supervisors how to implement them, and USE THEM!
- 4. When a worker violates policy, present the form and/or written warnings in a meeting with the worker, have the worker sign the form, and then document the employee file. This is crucial to demonstrate a pattern of behavior.
After the claim
- 5. If a workers’ comp claim is filed, always document light duty with an approved job description/job analysis and a valid, signed job offer letter. This becomes the contract of light duty. Without it, the job is not a Valid Job Offer. An APF and a verbal return to work understanding is NOT a Valid Job Offer.
- 6. For minor disciplinary violations, use suspension without pay or diversion to a program the worker must complete. Resist the temptation to have termination as the “go-to” consequence.
- 7. DOCUMENT, DOCUMENT, DOCUMENT – EVERY STEP OF THE WAY.
Did we say you must DOCUMENT? Verbal agreements rarely hold up. And, a verbal job offer during a period of work restriction due to injury definitely will not hold up with L&I. It’s very important to remain sensitive to these factors until claim closure.
Next week, we’ll look at ways in which these best practices can come to the rescue. Need a disciplinary policy? Contact the All Things HR help desk via our client portal or your Approach Retro Coordinator to request sample documents.