TDI Offers Quarterly Webinars on WC Issues & Trends

Judge Strikes Down Proposed New Rule Defining Joint Employment

A federal judge has struck down the National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB) proposed new regulations defining joint employers and restored regulations adopted in 2020.

U.S. District Judge J. Campbell Barker of the Eastern District of Texas ruled on March 8 that the NLRB’s proposed 2023 joint employer regulations were defined overbroadly, and restored prior regulations requiring “substantial direct and immediate control” to establish joint employment.

The new standard would have made it easier for two businesses to be deemed a joint employer of a group of employees, making each business legally liable for one another’s actions. It also added language making it easier for joint employees to be represented by unions.

The new regulations set forth a list of “essential terms and conditions” to be used to determine if two or more entities control an employee’s condition of employment. Those included:

  • Wages, benefits and other compensation.
  • Hours of work and scheduling.
  • Assignment of duties to be performed.
  • Supervision of the performance of duties.
  • Work rules and directions governing the manner, means and methods of the performance of duties and the grounds for discipline.
  • Tenure of employment, including hiring and discharge.

Barker ruled those terms and conditions “would treat virtually every entity that contracts for labor as a joint employer because virtually every contract for third-party labor has terms that impact, at least indirectly, at least one of the specified ‘essential terms and conditions’ of employment.”

NLRB Chair Lauren McFerran said the agency is reviewing the decision and considering its next steps.

The ruling is available here.

TDI Offers Quarterly Webinars on WC Issues & Trends

The Texas Department of Insurance, Division of Workers’ Compensation, now offers a quarterly series of free webinars to help organizations stay abreast of the latest information and trends in workers’ compensation.

CompCourses offers quarterly webinars through Zoom on topics ranging from how to calculate wage statements to the development of successful return-to-work strategies for injured employees.

CompCourses will include a 45-minute presentation followed by 15 minutes of Q&A to earn CE credit. Participants must be present for the entire webinar, including the Q&A, to receive credit. CompCourses plans to offer various CE credits throughout the year for adjusters, attorneys, health care providers, and human resource professionals.

To join a webinar, sign up for DWC emails here.

Each quarter, DWC will send an invitation to register for an upcoming webinar. If you can’t attend a session in real-time, webinar recordings will be available for viewing on the CompCourses webpage.

Study Shows Decrease in Workers’ Comp Costs

A new report from the National Academy of Social Insurance (NASI) finds employer costs for workers’ compensation at a 30-year low. The report tracks workers’ compensation spending from 2017 through 2021, which includes the first two years of the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the report, the number of U.S. jobs covered by workers’ compensation decreased by 0.1% between 2017 and 2021, mainly due to the 2020 experience.

Employer costs for workers’ compensation were $1.01 per $100 of covered wages in 2021, compared to $1.76 in 1991. Benefits paid to injured workers were 63 cents per $100 of covered wages in 2021, compared to 97 cents in 1991.

In a recent blog post, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) says the NASI report raises questions about whether the workers’ compensation industry fulfills its obligation to injured workers.

DOL says some of the drop in benefits paid may be attributed to a declining number of workplace injuries, but also points to a National Council of Compensation Insurance report that found the number of workers’ compensation claims accepted by private insurers in 38 states decreased by 62% between 1999 and 2019.

DOL says workers’ compensation costs are being shifted to workers and the public. It says the workers’ compensation system shoulders 21% of the cost of workplace accidents, while workers and their private health care bear 63% of the cost of the injury. It says taxpayers cover the other 16% through Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

DOL also says many injured workers often forgo benefits because of waiting periods and caps on the duration of benefits. It says evidence indicates 33% to 69% of work-related injuries and illnesses may go uncounted.

The NASI report is available here.

Report Shows Increase in PTO Requests

A new report from BambooHR shows hiring outpaced turnover at U.S. workforces in January and February, after falling short in December 2023.

BambooHR’s Workforce Insights Report also found employee requests for paid time off reached a four-year high in January, with more than four in 10 U.S. employees (44%) requesting paid time off. In Texas, 31% of workers asked for PTO and 52% had their requests approved.

Previous studies have indicated workers are again more comfortable asking for time off from work after being reluctant to do so during the pandemic years.

According to the report, on average, 37% of employees make a PTO request every month, with about half of requests (49%) being approved.

According to the report, workers in the finance sector requested the most PTO, followed by the nonprofit and technology sectors. More than 50% of workers in those sectors asked for paid time off. In contrast, fewer than one in five workers in the food service industry asked for PTO.

The report also shows turnover decreasing both in the United States and globally, while hiring increases.

U.S. hiring increased 25% between December 2023 and February 2024, compared to a 27% increase globally. Turnover decreased 22% in the United States, compared to 25% globally.

The report is available here.

SHRM Survey Examines Increasing Incivility in the Workplace

A new survey from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) shows the workplace is becoming less civil. The survey of more than 1,000 U.S. employees found 66% of workers say they have experienced or witnessed incivility in their workplace within the past month. More than half (57%) experienced or witnessed incivility at work within the past week.

The most common forms of incivility witnessed or experienced included addressing others disrespectfully (36%), interrupting or silencing others while they were speaking (34%), and excessive monitoring or micromanaging (32%).

One in three employees surveyed (33%) say they expect workplace conflict to increase over the next 12 months.

According to SHRM, 28% of employees who believe their workplace is uncivil say they are dissatisfied with their jobs. That compares to 9% of employees who say their workplace is civil but they are still dissatisfied with their jobs.

Some 38% of employees who believe their workplace is uncivil say they will likely leave their job over the next 12 months. That compares to 17% of employees who say their workplace is civil but they still likely will leave their jobs within 12 months.

More than three out of four employees (76%) who believe their workplace is civil say they have a sense of belonging at work. Just 43% of employees who believe their workplace is uncivil say they have a sense of belonging at work.

The survey found employees who witnessed or experienced incivility in the past month are less likely to be their authentic selves at work, less likely to believe they can share their honest thoughts without fear at work, and more likely to believe they must filter much of what they say at work.

More information about the survey is available here.

Survey: Hiring Managers Highlight Challenges With Gen Zers in the Workplace

More than three in 10 hiring managers (31%) surveyed recently say they avoid considering Gen Zers for job openings.

In a survey commissioned by and conducted in January 2024 by SurveyMonkey, respondents involved in hiring for entry-level positions at their company cited several issues with hiring Gen Zers, including:

  • Ask for too much money (42%).
  • Act entitled (41%).
  • Lack communication skills (39%).
  • Aren’t prepared (36%).
  • Don’t ask questions (36%).
  • Don’t seem engaged/interested (33%).

More than half of hiring managers (54%) report having to fire a Gen Zer. Of this group, 5% say they had to fire a Gen Zer within a day of them starting, 17% within a week, and 36% within a month.

Many of the hiring managers surveyed who have interviewed Gen Zers have experienced Gen Zers acting inappropriately. While interviewing a Gen Z candidate, hiring managers say a candidate did the following:

  • Wasn’t dressed appropriately (58%).
  • Struggled with eye contact (57%).
  • Used inappropriate language (19%).
  • Was in an inappropriate environment to do an interview (16%).
  • Refused to turn on their camera during virtual interview (13%).
  • Brought a parent to the interview (9%).

Survey respondents also reported seeing certain weaknesses among Gen Z employees in the workplace and say Gen Zers often:

  • Are late to work (34%).
  • Don’t dress professionally (33%).
  • Don’t use appropriate language for work (33%).
  • Can’t manage the workload (31%).
  • Are difficult to manage (26%).
  • Are late to meetings (25%).
  • Deliver poor quality work (24%).
  • Hand assignments in late (24%).
  • Don’t get along well with co-workers (22%).

More information about the survey is available here.

Research Explores Impact of Recreational Cannabis Use on Workplace Injuries

On-the-job injuries among workers ages 20 to 34 have increased 10% in states where recreational marijuana sales are legal, according to a study from a team led by a researcher from the University of Wisconsin-Parkside.

The study also found the injury rate per 100 workers rose 8.4% in the states that allow recreational marijuana use. Researchers found no link between workplace injuries and marijuana in the states that don’t permit the sale of marijuana for recreational use.

Recreational marijuana use is not legal in Texas; however, 24 states and the District of Columbia have legalized it.

Researchers say their findings are consistent with the hypothesis that recreational marijuana impedes cognitive function and care among younger workers. This differs from older workers, for whom prior research uncovered a decline in workers’ compensation benefit receipt and nontraumatic injuries following recreational marijuana legalization. Researchers speculate marijuana access may have differentially helped older workers manage pain.

Access to the study is available here.

Preparing for Another Above-Average Tornado Season

Long-range forecasters at AccuWeather are predicting a slow start to the severe weather season this spring, but warn it should escalate after reaching the midway point.

Last year’s severe weather season saw 206 tornadoes touch down in March, more than double the monthly historical average of 80 and higher than the number of twisters that were observed in April or May. Most struck areas outside of the traditional Tornado Alley, especially in March and April when severe weather focused on areas from the Midwest through the Tennessee Valley.

AccuWeather predicts 1,250 to 1,375 tornadoes in the United States in 2024, above the historical average of 1,225, but fewer than the 1,423 twisters that were tallied in 2023.

With the severe weather season still in its infancy, organizations should prepare for when severe weather strikes. This includes having an emergency plan that includes identifying when and where to shelter during a tornado. This area should be free from windows, exterior walls, and doors and have enough space to accommodate everyone who needs shelter.

AccuWeather provides the following tips for being prepared:

In addition to a designated safe area, businesses should have an emergency kit that includes essential items such as water, a first aid kit, flashlights, and a battery-powered radio. This kit should be easily accessible and stored in a location known to all employees. It’s also important to have a backup power source, such as a generator, in case of a power outage.

When sheltering in place, use materials such as desks, tables and file cabinets to create a barricade between you and any potential flying debris.

State News

Insurance Journal
Report Looks at Cumulative Trauma and Litigated Claims in California Workers’ Comp
The CWCI study, based on a sample of 1.4 million California work injury claims with 2010 to 2022 carrier notice dates, examines the growth of CT claims as a share of litigated claims in the California workers’ comp system and explores the claim characteristics most associated with CT claims. Click here for full article.

State of California Department of Industrial Relations
Cal/OSHA Workplace Violence Prevention for General Industry
On September 30, 2023, California Senate Bill 553 (Cortese) was signed into law and California Labor Code section 6401.9 will be in effect and enforceable on July 1, 2024. Click here for full article.

Mission Local
Former SF HR Manager Charged with Looting $627k in Workers’ Comp
In January, San Francisco Human Resources manager Stanley John Ellicott was arrested and charged with a bevy of crimes, including purportedly selling electronics on the internet that had been bought with city money earmarked for earthquake supplies. Click here for full article.

Insurance Journal
Connecticut Extends PTSD Benefits to All Workers Under Workers’ Compensation
The new year brought with it an expansion of Connecticut’s workers’ compensation benefits with regard to post-traumatic stress injuries or disorders (PTSD). Click here for full article.

Business Insurance
Court Rules Ketamine Treatments Properly Compensated
The Delaware Supreme Court Thursday found that the state properly paid for an injured employee’s ketamine infusion treatments despite the worker’s claim that the payments were insufficient under the state’s workers compensation medical fee schedule. Click here for full article.
Maine Turnpike Worker Connects COVID Infection to Working with Maskless Coworker
Back when COVID was going around freely, if you came down with it, how could you be sure where you caught it? Click here for full article.

Conduit Street
Narrowed Hearing Loss Workers’ Comp Bill On the Move
A bill to update how Maryland calculates hearing loss for workers’ compensation benefits has passed both chambers, amended and narrowed. Click here for full article.

Insurance Journal
Massachusetts Couple Charged With $627K in Workers’ Compensation Fraud and More
A Hopkinton, Massachusetts couple has been arrested and charged in connection with separate schemes to defraud their workers’ compensation insurance carriers, the Small Business Administration (SBA) and their mortgage lender. Click here for full article.

State of New Jersey
Governor Murphy Signs Workers’ Compensation Bill for Certain First Responders
Governor Phil Murphy today signed A-5909/S-4267, which revises workers’ compensation coverage for certain injuries to certain volunteer and professional public safety and law enforcement personnel. Click here for full article.

Business Insurance
State High Court Says Bariatric Surgery Not Compensable
The North Carolina Supreme Court ruled Friday that a lower appellate court erred in determining that a preschool and its insurer were responsible for paying for weight-loss surgery for an injured employee. Click here for full article.

Insurance Journal
Woman Gets 5-10 Years for Workers’ Comp Scam of Family Dollar, Restaurant
A Delaware woman will serve 5 to 10 years in state prison for a workers’ compensation scam that spanned 2.5 years, two states, and cost a Pennsylvania employer more than $170,000, according to Pennsylvania Attorney General Michelle Henry. Click here for full article.

Business Insurance
Rhode Island Lawmakers Propose Worker Heat Protections
Lawmakers on Friday read through a proposed bill that would require employers to protect workers exposed to extreme hot and cold temperatures. Click here for full article.

Business Insurance
Restaurant Worker Startled by Opossum Deemed Permanently Disabled
A Texas Roadhouse worker in Tennessee was permanently disabled by a work-related fall he suffered when he was startled by an opossum after his shift, the Tennessee Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board ruled Thursday. Click here for full article.

Insurance Journal
Coming and Going, Extended Premises Rules Don’t Help Employee Injured on Crosswalk
An employee of a diagnostics firm in Virginia who was injured when she fell on a crosswalk on her way to work is not entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. Click here for full article.

General News

Healthcare Workers with Long COVID to Sue NHS for Compensation
Dozens of healthcare staff, some of them from Wales, are suing the NHS and other employers after they contracted long COVID. Nearly 70 workers will take their case to the High Court to get compensation, many of them claiming they have been left disabled and unable to work, reports the BBC. Click here for full article.

ABC News
On 4-year Anniversary of the WHO Declaring COVID a Pandemic, a Look at the Virus by the Numbers
Monday marks the 4-year anniversary of the World Health Organization (WHO) declaring the global COVID-19 outbreak to be a pandemic. Click here for full article.

Adroit and Nationwide Partner to Offer Workers’ Compensation to Mid-size Employers
A new partnership between Adroit General Agency and Nationwide will offer workers’ compensation insurance and services to mid-sized employers with high-risk operations. Click here for full article.

How Professional Employer Organizations Aid Workers’ Comp Risk Management
How Professional Employer Organizations Aid Workers’ Comp Risk Management
It’s been a difficult few years for small and medium-sized businesses. Regulations about worker health and safety changed rapidly during the COVID-19 pandemic. There’s been economic uncertainty and hard insurance markets. Click here for full article.

Business Insurance
Lack of Reporting Makes Measuring Agricultural Injuries Difficult: Study
Understanding the nature and causes of agricultural injuries can be difficult because, unlike other employment sectors, the farming industry is often exempt from certain reporting requirements to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, according to a pair of studies by the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Click here for full article.

WATCH: First Responders Struggle to get Workers’ Comp
One officer spent decades wearing a CPSD badge but is fearing retaliation for sharing his struggles with mental illness. Click here for full article.

The Mercury News
Hidden COVID Virus Found Nearly Two Years After Infection
Pieces of the COVID virus can lurk in our blood and tissue for almost two years after the initial illness has vanished, a discovery that might offer clues to the mystery of lingering post-infection disability, according to new research from UC San Francisco. Click here for full article.

Daily Briefing: COVID Protections Eliminated a Strain of Flu
For the first time, an influenza virus has been eliminated from the human population through non-pharmaceutical interventions. Click here for full article.

Pew Research Center
How Americans View the Coronavirus, COVID-19 Vaccines Amid Declining Levels of Concern
A new Pew Research Center survey finds that just 20% of Americans view the coronavirus as a major threat to the health of the U.S. population today and only 10% are very concerned they will get it and require hospitalization. Click here for full article.

The Guardian
COVID Vaccines Cut Risk of Virus-related Heart Failure and Blood Clots, Study Finds
Covid vaccinations substantially reduce the risk of heart failure and potentially dangerous blood clots linked to the infection for up to a year, according to a large study. Click here for full article.

Spring COVID-19 Booster Shots. Should You Get One? And What’s The Best Timing?
It’s spring, the season for sweet strawberries, colorful tulips, crisp vegetables — and a COVID-19 booster shot. Click here for full article.
Weed Shops Continue to be Dangerous for Workers
Two workers at separate cannabis warehouses are dead after robbers engaged in shootouts with warehouse employees. Click here for full article.