New Law Reduces Ownership Requirement for Coverage Exemption

A new law taking effect this year aims to ease the confusion caused by the implementation of new rules that define what constitutes an owner or officer who is exempt from having to carry workers’ comp coverage.

The new law, which was in the form of SB 189, last year once again changed the definition of employees and the permissible exclusions for workers’ comp purposes.

Current law excludes from the definition of employee:

  •  An officer or member of the board of directors of a quasi-public or private corporation who owns at least 15% of the issued and outstanding stock and executes a written waiver of his or her rights under the laws governing workers’ compensation stating under penalty of perjury that he or she is a qualifying officer or director, and
  • An individual who is a general partner of a partnership or a managing member of a limited liability company who executes a written waiver of his or her rights under the laws governing workers’ compensation stating under the penalty of perjury that he or she is a qualifying general partner or managing member.

If one or more of your officers and owners are claiming an exemption, you should expect to receive correspondence from your insurance company notifying you of the changes.

The new law takes effect in two stages:
Effective January 1, 2018

The first part of the legislation addresses waivers executed by individuals prior to January 1, 2017, and accepted by the carrier before the end of 2017. It provides that these waivers will remain in effect until they are withdrawn by the named individual.  Effective July 1, 2018

The minimum ownership percentage is reduced from the current 15% to 10% for the purposes of qualifying for a workers’ comp waiver.

Under the new law, an officer or member of the board of directors may elect to waive coverage if either:

  1. He or she owns at least 10% of the issued and outstanding stock, or
  2. He or she owns at least 1% of the issued and outstanding stock of the corporation if his or her parent, grandparent, sibling, spouse or child owns at least 10% of the issued and outstanding stock and is covered by a health insurance policy or health care service plan.

Under the new law, the waiver must be signed by the person requesting to be excluded from workers’ comp coverage. The law specifically states that company representatives may not sign on behalf of the individual.

The waiver takes effect when the insurance company receives it, but it has the option to backdate it up to 15 days prior to receipt. The waiver shall remain in effect until the officer or member of the board of directors provides the insurer with a written withdrawal of the waiver.

Sole shareholders of a private corporation   Sole shareholders of private corporations and private professional corporations are excluded from the definition of employee as of July 1, 2018, but can elect to be covered by the policy.

General partners or managing members of an LLC  A general partner of a partnership or a managing member of a limited liability company can execute a written waiver of coverage.

Professional corporations  An owner of a professional corporation who is a practitioner rendering professional services for which the professional corporation is organized, may waive coverage.

Cooperative corporations  Officers and board members of cooperative corporations are also addressed in the notice. They can opt out of coverage by signing a waiver under penalty of perjury.

However, in addition to having health care coverage, they must also have “a disability insurance policy that is comparable in scope and coverage to a workers’ compensation policy,” according to the Department of Insurance.

10 Tips for Preventing Laptop and Mobile Device Theft

For many people, the theft or loss of even a single laptop computer, cell phone or tablet can be devastating – unless you take some common-sense measures to mitigate the damage ahead of time.

It’s not just the cost of the lost device itself. If there is confidential, proprietary or personally identifiable information on the device – or readily accessible through it – you could risk seeing your identity stolen.

Here are some tips to help prevent mobile device theft:

  1. Don’t let strangers “borrow” your phone or computer to look up directions or send an e-mail. There are cases of criminals bolting as soon as they have possession of the device. In other cases, they may surreptitiously install malware or spyware on your device that could compromise your sensitive information.
  2. Don’t use computer-carrying cases that look too much like computer-carrying cases. These attract the attention of thieves. Ideally, your carrying case will not attract attention to itself.
  3. Use device-tracking services. Many laptop manufacturers include optional tracing services. Alternatively, you can install or attach an external tracking device to your computer. It may not prevent theft, but you may be able to quickly recover the computer, or force the criminal to get rid of it prematurely, limiting the damage they cause.
    Computrace’s LoJack for Laptops – one popular solution – takes advantage of GPS technology and will give you a precise location of a missing device.
  4. Maintain situational awareness. Don’t flaunt your brand new mobile device by using it prominently and visibly in public. According to the Federal Communications Commission, 55% of all larcenies in New York City involve smartphone theft, as do 46% of all robberies.
  5. Install an irremovable tag, such as a STOP Security Plate. These make laptop computers very difficult for criminals to resell or pawn, and they may help deter theft. The STOP Security Plate – impossible to remove – also instructs anyone who finds your computer to call a 1-800 number to report it stolen. Once they do, the vendor will call you with instructions on how to recover your device.
  6. Going through an airport security checkpoint? Don’t put your laptop on the conveyor belt until you are very next in line. Otherwise, your computer may make it through security before you do – and be vulnerable to theft on the other side of the checkpoint.
  7. Cable your laptop. Several vendors make a lightweight but very strong cable that you can use to secure your laptop to a table you are working on in public – making it nearly impossible for thieves to run away with your computer. Most thieves, seeing the cable, will move on to an easier target.
  8. Traveling? Store the laptop in your hotel room safe, if possible. If there is no safe and you can’t bring your laptop with you, store it in a locked suitcase.
  9. Never ask a stranger to watch your laptop for a moment in public. Always pack your computer back up to go use the restroom, get another drink, or anything else.
  10. Never leave your laptop in the car. Your car insurance may cover the cost of a stolen laptop (minus a deductible), but it doesn’t cover the cost of lost productivity or data loss mitigation.

 

 

 

How Employers Can Fight the High Cost of Diabetes

Diabetes is a devastating illness – and not just for those with the disease. Employers are also shouldering massive and increasing direct and indirect costs due to diabetes.

Diabetes afflicts more than 11% of the adult population, including about 6.3% of full-time workers and 9.1% of part-time workers.

Adults with diabetes incur more than $8,480 in direct treatment costs, on average. Those who are insured spend even more.

A 2016 report from the Health Care Cost Institute estimated that insured workers with diabetes spend more than $16,000 on health care costs per year. Those without diabetes, on average, generate about $4,396 in medical costs per annum.

 

Indirect costs

Employers aren’t just paying more in direct health care costs and insurance premiums. They also pay via lost productivity.

On average, those with diabetes miss an extra week of work – 5.5 days – compared to other workers, according to Gallup estimates. All told, that adds up to 45 million missed workdays, and productivity costs to U.S. employers of $4 billion.

And for employers, these costs may represent just the tip of the iceberg. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that more than 114 million adults in the U.S. – a third of the workforce – have undiagnosed diabetes or prediabetes.

 

What can employers do?

The CDC recommends that employers design wellness programs that specifically target improvements in the following areas:

  • Exercise and activity levels
  • Smoking
  • Hypertension
  • Blood cholesterol
  • High blood glucose
  • Weight/obesity

There also are a number of measures employers can take to help mitigate some of the costs to the organization.

  • Offer ongoing counseling with professional dieticians. Employees that regularly meet with dieticians who can help them set small, manageable goals for themselves, make significant and measureable health improvements, according to a 2016 study. The research found that they lost 5.5% of their body weight and reduced blood glucose levels.
  • Start a walking club. The American Diabetes Association’s Stop Diabetes @ Work program recommends that employers encourage company walking clubs to attend diabetes walk-a-thons like Step Out: Walk to Cure Diabetes, or host a Community Walk to Cure Diabetes.
    You can find resources, including posters, newsletter articles, training plans and walking guides, at diabetes.org.
  • Encourage self-assessment and screening. According to the CDC, 30% of people with diabetes aren’t even aware of it. Workplace screenings are easy and effective. Many employers provide incentives for workers to participate via reduced insurance copays, or even cash payments.

All screenings should be confidential and employers should not to penalize employees who have diabetes, as this could violate the Americans with Disabilities Act.

  • Encourage smokers to quit. Diabetics who smoke have far higher medical costs on average than non-smoking diabetics or non-diabetic smokers. Discouraging tobacco use can pay off in the long run.

With so much at stake, a robust workplace program to fight diabetes can generate a significant return on investment.

The American Diabetes Association estimates that preventing or delaying the onset of diabetes in just one prediabetic employee can generate more than $50,000 in direct and indirect cost savings over five years.

 

 

 

Identify Risk-Takers to Prevent Costly Workplace Injuries

Some employees are happy to take chances when it comes to safety. They take needless risks in an effort to save time or cut their workload. In reality, all they’re doing is subjecting themselves and others to hazards that could cause a serious injury.

Workers form bad habits when they repeatedly perform their jobs in an unsafe way and don’t get injured. They become convinced that because of their skills they are incapable of being hurt. It’s this attitude that usually ends up doing them in, because they take even more chances until eventually a serious accident does occur.

Unfortunately, that one accident can turn out to be fatal.

Most of a chance-taker’s careless acts can be broken down into one of the following categories:

  • Failing to follow proper job procedure
  • Cleaning, oiling, adjusting or repairing equipment that is moving, electrically energized or pressurized
  • Failing to use available personal protective equipment, such as gloves, goggles and hard hats
  • Failing to wear safe personal attire
  • Failing to secure or warn about hazards
  • Using equipment improperly
  • Making safety devices inoperable
  • Operating or working at unsafe speeds
  • Taking an unsafe position or posture
  • Placing, mixing or combining tools and materials unsafely
  • Using tools or equipment known to be unsafe
  • Engaging in horseplay

    Although OSHA does not cite employees for safety violations, each employee is obliged to comply with all applicable OSHA standards, rules, regulations and orders. Employee responsibilities and rights in states with their own occupational safety and health programs are generally the same as for workers in states covered by Federal OSHA.

Guidelines for workers

Employees should follow these guidelines:

  1. Read OSHA notices at the jobsite
  2. Comply with all applicable OSHA standards
  3. Follow all lawful employer health and safety rules and regulations, and wear or use prescribed protective equipment while working
  4. Report hazardous conditions to a supervisor
  5. Report any job-related injury or illness to the employer, and seek treatment promptly
  6. Exercise these rights in a responsible manner

    If you are working with a risk-taker, ask him to stop and consider what jeopardy he is putting himself and others in. Then buddy up with him to find a safer way to perform the task. Remember, unsafe actions don’t result in saving time if a worker gets injured in the process.

Documenting Small Safety Incidents Key to Preventing Major Ones

Studies show that for every major workplace injury or fatality, there are nearly 10 minor injuries – and more than 30 accidents that lead to property damage. Capturing data even on minor safety incidents can be critical in informing efforts to prevent much greater dangers in the future. This item sets out the areas on which management should focus its efforts in this regard.

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