Ever wonder how workers’ compensation works in house cleaning? Your company rules and regulations for on the job injuries – OJI must be set in stone.
Prevention comes from teaching workplace safety. And having rules for reporting on the job injuries. Consider a mandatory drug test for employees. Teach disability awareness, disability documentation and how to avoid getting hurt on the job.
Listen: How Workers’ Compensation Works in House Cleaning
Watch: How Workers’ Compensation Works in House Cleaning
Hey there, I’m Angela Brown, and this is Ask a House Cleaner. This is a show where you get to ask a house cleaning question, and I get to help you find an answer. You can find this and 400 other answered questions in this series on our YouTube channel.
How Workers’ Compensation Works
Many house cleaners wonder how workers’ compensation works. We’re going to talk about that today.
They ask questions like this, “I have a small cleaning company, and I’m ready to expand. The only things that are holding me back are the taxes and fees and stuff for hiring new cleaners, like workers’ comp. How do I get those funds, or how do I hire more people without breaking the bank?”
Where Do You Get Money to Handle Legal Issues?
Where do you get the money and the resources to get all the legal stuff ready for your business? Let’s talk about workers’ compensation and how that works. Because the more you understand, the easier it’s going to be to make that decision.
Workers’ compensation is insurance that protects you as the business owner. So, if somebody gets injured on the job, instead of you going bankrupt because they sued you for a bunch of money for their injuries, the insurance kicks in. It pays their medical bills.
Yes, it’s expensive, but it’s more expensive if you have to file a claim. Then your insurance premiums are going to go through the roof for all your employees.
How to Utilize the Workers’ Compensation
How can you use workers’ compensation to your advantage? The very first thing that we have to realize is training.
When it comes to training house cleaners, it is very important that they understand what personal protective equipment is. This is the personal protective equipment that you wear when you’re cleaning.
This might be gloves when you’re using an abrasive cleaner. Or a disposable face mask if you’re breathing something that might have heavy fumes.
Personal Protective Equipment is for Heavy-Duty Jobs
Personal protective equipment is not always needed for light maintenance cleaning that we do. But if there is a heavy-duty job and you have to use something special, it is necessary.
So, you need ventilation and protective equipment and safe working practices like those we learn in OSHA training. Which is a reason that you want to study your workplace safety so that you avoid on-the-job injuries.
On-the-Job Injuries in House Cleaning
Now, house cleaning does not lend itself to a lot of on-the-job injuries. Even if you’re on a three-foot step ladder and you fall off, you’re falling off onto a carpeted floor, right? That’s not something that’s going to crack and break all the bones in your body.
So, if you’re following protocol in your company, it’s not likely that you’re ever going to have to file a workman’s comp claim while your house cleaning.
This is not like you’re on the side of a building and you might fall off while you’re washing windows. You’re inside someone’s house using a vacuum. However, it is still important to prevent these injuries.
You Can’t Skip Workers’ Compensation
So, can you skip workers’ compensation? No, you cannot. In most states around the United States, workers’ compensation is mandatory with some steep penalties mandated by the department of labor.
I know in the state of Illinois, if you don’t have proper workman’s comp for your people, it’s a minimum three-year prison sentence and fines up to $500 a day.
You do not want to mess with this. If you are required to have workman’s’ comp, you want to make sure that you offer to your employees.
Workers’ Compensation is a Gray Area
Workman’s comp is in insurance, but it’s based on a bunch of rules and behaviors about how the situation gets treated. It’s a very gray area.
So, immediately if you have a workman’s comp claim, you want to jump into gear and do a couple of things. As the business owner, you want to have forms that your employees can fill out that are on-the-job injury forms.
You need to file that immediately. Then go get an attorney immediately because this is not going to be an easy or an inexpensive process.
Workers’ Compensation Lawyers are Expensive
Now, there are a couple of things that we know about attorneys. They bill by the hour, so there is no incentive whatsoever for them to make this quick, okay? They’re going to stretch this out as long as possible. No offense to my attorney friends; this is how they make their money.
Now the next thing that you have to know is insurance companies make their money by charging premiums and hoping that they never have to payout.
So, they’re going to stretch this out as long as possible without making payments to your employees. This is going to become an elongated process. Many times workers’ compensation claims take months and years to resolve.
Have Rules and Regulations Upfront
So, what you want to do as an employer is you want to have rules and regulations in place upfront.
These rules say if you get injured on the job, you must report it immediately. You must fill out an on-the-job injury form immediately, and you must take a drug test immediately.
What you’re doing is you’re protecting yourself against things that could be their fault. From being inebriated or showing up to work intoxicated. So, you want to cover your bases first.
When You Get Hurt as an Employee
Now, if you are an employee and you get injured on the job, you want to make sure that you fill out the job injury form immediately. You want to have proof.
Then, after you fill it out, make sure you take a snapshot of it with your cell phone because you will need it for court.
Now, if it’s possible, you want to make sure that you have a witness. So, if you can call a friend over and say, “Hey, I’m hurt. Can you give me a ride home,” and your friend comes over, it’s great if your friend will witness you filling out the on-the-job injury form.
Go to the Doctor Right Away for Workers’ Compensation
The next step is you’re going to seek out medical help. The doctor is going to do a thorough evaluation of how bad the injury is. That initial interview or diagnosis is going to be crucial to what happens next.
So, you want to make sure as the employee, that you tell the doctor this happened at work. They need to know that, and that needs to go in your file. That’s one more documentation that you reported it immediately.
A lot of workers’ compensation cases fall through right at this very phase. Either it wasn’t reported immediately or there’s no proof that it was reported immediately. So, you want to make sure that you report immediately.
Active Workers’ Compensation Files
Once you report the incident and you go into the workers’ compensation system, you have what’s called an active file. Once you have an active file, then you’re going to go in for medical treatments.
This could be injections, it could be therapy, it could be surgery. It’s all aimed at getting you back to work. That’s the end goal.
While you’re in that phase you are entitled to some fees or some money. So, one of those would be all your medical expenses paid for by your insurance.
Wage Loss is Part of Workers’ Compensation
You also get a wage loss benefits while you recover. The doctor will determine how long you’re injured. They will decide whether you can go back on light duty or you have to come off of work altogether until your injury heals. It depends on the scope of your injury.
Now, in most cases, you get part of your wages. About 66% of your previous earnings previous to the injury. So, if you are only part-time and you only earned $400 a week, you’re entitled to 66% of your $400 a week.
That will cover you at least partly. It’s not going to give you your full wages, but it’s going to give you some money while you’re out and you’re recovering.
What is Maximum Medical Improvement?
So, then what happens once you have reached what’s called MMI. This is the maximum medical improvement. This is when doctors say, “We’ve done everything we can do here as well as you’re going to be,” then you go to the next phase.
After this happens, there is a pre-hearing. What happens is the insurance attorney and your attorney get together with the judge.
The judge says, “Okay. Here’s the scenario. Here’s what we’re going to do.” And you say, “Okay, great,” and you take your money and you either go back to work or you go to the next phase.
Mediation in Workers’ Compensation Cases
The next phase requires mediation. The boss, you, your attorney, your boss’s attorney, and the judge get together and decide what comes next.
Now, what comes next might be that there’s a settlement of some sort and you’re awarded some kind of disability. The disability will be long-term.
Let’s say you can never go back to work, then they will give you a percentage of whatever they feel the disability is worth. They choose this based on the American Medical Association and the guidelines that they have for disabilities.
Mediation is Not Always the End
Now, if you agree to that, great. That’s the end. If you don’t agree with it and you protest it, then there will be a hearing. This is where it gets sticky and it drags on for years.
So, you need to be careful about the whole workers’ compensation scenario. It can become very lengthy and expensive with attorney fees. It can create a whole lot of bad will in your company. And if you’re not careful, it can bankrupt your company.
The whole purpose of workers’ compensation is to have insurance that covers you in the event that something like this happens.
Take Precautions Against Workers’ Compensation Claims
In the very beginning, set your rules and regulations in place as well as prevention programs. Then make sure that you have things in place like drug testing for on-the-job injuries. It’s mandatory. It’s not optional.
If you report an on-the-job injury, there will be a drug test right away. And that needs to be set up front in your initial interview so there are no surprises.
You cannot skip the workers’ compensation for employees that you have. You don’t want to go to jail over this, and you do not want to be fined for avoiding it or thinking the rules don’t apply to you.
The Secret to Workers’ Compensation is Immediacy
So, the secret to worker’s compensation is immediacy every step along the way. If you ever find yourself in a situation where you need workers’ compensation, go hire an attorney. Get all your questions answered.
Every step along the way, you need to make immediate decisions. Once a decision is made at any of the phases along the process, you can only refute it for a certain amount of time. So, you need to understand this is not a game.
How to Use Workers’ Compensation and not Go Broke
So, how do you do workers’ compensation and not go broke? The secret is to understand the rules. Be crystal clear about what you are doing.
A lot of this is based on the training that you provide your employees.
So, if you take all the safety precautions. And you have rules and regulations in place for how your employees behave while they’re on the job. Then it will cut a lot of the on-the-job injuries from negligence.
*** Resources From This Episode ***
Safety and Workers’ Compensation Strategies: To Unleash Productivity and Profit https://amzn.to/2UZxgsi
Workers’ Compensation Law – https://amzn.to/2Gm3dYg
How to Save Big on Workers’ Compensation: With Insights from Leading Industry Experts – https://amzn.to/2E9U8zK
Wow! I Never Knew That! 12 of the Most Misunderstood and Misused P&C Insurance Coverages, Concepts, and Exclusions – https://amzn.to/2BAAXxj
The Insurance Professional’s Practical Guide to Workers’ Compensation – https://amzn.to/2DFbJy1
We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.
Permissions To Share
Savvy Cleaner Training – House Cleaner Training and Certification
My Cleaning Connection – Your hub for all things cleaning.
HouseCleaning360 – A hub connecting homeowners with house cleaners
Savvy Perks – Employee benefits for your employees.
Turnover Cleaning Tips – for Vacation Rental and Airbnb Hosts