Significant Changes to Construction Dual-Wage Classifications

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As inflation drives up salaries in all sectors, the workers’ compensation wage thresholds for construction dual class codes in California have increased as of Sept. 1, 2022. State Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara in July approved the recommendation by the Workers’ Compensation Insurance Rating Bureau to increase the wage thresholds for high-wage workers. The new rates apply to workers’ comp policies incepting on or after Sept. 1. In these dual class codes, workers’ compensation rates are different for workers above and below the wage threshold. Rates are lower for workers whose hourly pay is above the threshold as statistics have shown…
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Two-Thirds of Small Firms Are Boosting Their Benefits Packages: Poll

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Now more than ever, employers need to step up their employee benefits game beyond providing group health insurance. Thanks to the Great Resignation, employees are demanding more from their current and prospective employers. And those that don’t deliver lose employees or have trouble attracting new talent, as long-time colleagues head for the exits. Good pay and a robust health insurance package still win the day, but employers are having to do more to sweeten the pot, according to a new survey by MetLife. One of the biggest factors affecting American employees is stress and burnout and the survey reflects these…
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Cal/OSHA Requires Employers to Protect Workers from Wildfire Smoke

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Cal/OSHA has issued a reminder to employers that they are required to protect their outdoor workers from unhealthy air due to wildfire smoke. Cal/OSHA’s Protection from Wildfire Smoke emergency regulation put in place in August 2019 was made permanent in February 2021. For the safety of your workers and to comply with the regulation, it’s important that you follow the regulations and know when you will need to take action to protect them from outdoor smoke. The regulation applies when the Air Quality Index (AQI) for airborne particulate matter 2.5 microns (PM2.5) is 151 or greater in an area where…
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Commissioner Rejects Proposed Hike in Benchmark Rate

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For the third year in a row, California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara has rejected the Workers’ Compensation Insurance Rating Bureau’s proposal for a workers’ compensation rate increase, and has ordered instead that benchmark rates remain the same. Lara rejected the WCIRB’s proposal that benchmark rates increase 7.6% for policies incepting on or after Sept. 1, saying that there was not enough data to support such a large increase. That means the average benchmark rate will remain unchanged at $1.45 per $100 of payroll over the next year, compared to the $1.56 per $100 of payroll the Rating Bureau had recommended. The…
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Employers Tap Technology to Tackle Distracted Driving

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Everyone knows the dangers of distracted driving, but the stakes are much higher when the driver of a commercial vehicle is distracted. As a result of this danger, more companies with fleets and commercial drivers are turning to technology to prevent their workers from using their phones while driving. And lately, insurers have started partnering with tech companies to offer these technologies to their commercial auto clients. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, compared to personal vehicle drivers, commercial truck drivers are: 23 times more likely to cause an accident when texting at the wheel, Seven times more…
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Return to Work Not Just for Workers’ Compensation Claimants

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More employers are using return-to-work programs for injured workers even if they were not injured on the job, according to a study by Prudential Insurance Co. of America. Many employers have a return-to-work program for their injured employees because it cuts down on workers’ comp claims costs and lets the worker get back to feeling productive. But more employers have also started returning employees to work who have been off duty due to non-job-related ailments. The survey found that 49% of large employers have a return-to-work program for their disability programs, and another 22% of employers plan to add such…
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HDHPs Can Continue Covering Telehealth with No Cost-Sharing under New Law

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An expired provision that authorized high-deductible health plans to reimburse for telehealth and other remote health care services before the deductible has been met, has been revived. The provision was extended from April 1 through Dec. 31 after President Biden signed the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2022. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing emergency legislation, HDHPs had been required to cover telehealth services with no out-of-pocket costs for the health plan enrollee, but those rules expired at the end of 2021. The extension was included in the budget bill as telemedicine has grown in popularity because it’s convenient particularly…
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Emergency Escape Plans Save Employee Lives; Do You Have One?

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What would your employees do in an emergency? Are they prepared for the unexpected? Do they know what to do? Do they know whom to call for help? Are they qualified to help? If you answered yes to these questions, then great, but if you answered no, then you need to pay special attention. All businesses should have a written emergency plan, and you should provide all of your staff with a copy. It should include: An emergency escape plan, including procedures and escape route assignments. Procedures for employees who remain to operate critical operations before they evacuate. Procedures to…
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CalSavers Registration Deadline Looms for Small Employers

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The deadline is fast approaching for employers with 5 or more workers in California, and who do not already offer their employees a retirement plan, to register their staff for the CalSavers Retirement Savings Program. Only California employers that do not offer retirement plans are required to register for CalSavers and there are different registration deadlines depending on employer size, staggered over a few years as follows: Employers with 100 or more workers – The deadline for registration was June 30, 2020. Employers with 50 or more workers – The deadline for registration was June 30, 2021. Employers with five or…
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Big Changes to Construction Dual Classes in the Works

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There could be significant changes coming for a number of construction dual-classification codes that could see the threshold for the higher-wage workers jump by as much as $5 per hour. Currently, 16 of the Workers’ Compensation Insurance Rating Bureau’s construction and erection class codes are divided into two separate classifications based on the hourly wage of the employees, and each of these classifications has a different advisory workers’ comp benchmark rate. Insurers use these benchmark rates as guideposts for setting their own rates. Because lower-wage workers in these classes have considerably more workplace injuries and more severe injuries, the pure…
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