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Worker’s compensation is an insurance that most states require for any company with employees on their payroll. In lieu of this insurance, a company can prove that it is financially able to pay any claims that arise as the result of an on the job injury or illness.

However, most companies prefer to purchase this insurance as a means to demonstrate that these claims will be paid.

As the owner of a medical staffing agency, you must cover your employees who work in-house for your organization, as well as the employees you dispatch to work for other companies.

Worker’s compensation insurance protects your company when you provide these benefits. In exchange, your employees relinquish the right to sue you should they suffer an injury or illness on the job.

Common injuries that occur on the job for medical staffers include:

  • Strains from carrying, lifting, pushing, or pulling
  • Slips, trips, and falls
  • Exposures to biohazards such as splashes and dirty needle injuries
  • Vehicle accidents when traveling on the job
  • Workplace violence

A recent article in the New Jersey Law Journal on the new “gig” economy shares some details for employers regarding both companies who employ independent contractors and those who provide workers as a third-party employer or staffing agency. This article discusses not only protective agreements to put in place that limit the relationship and indicate that the employee is not dually employed, but also clearly delineates the responsibility for the employee and all things related to that employee.

A staffing agency must maintain accurate records to track work location, duration of assignment, and schedule, as well as handling all personnel and human resource functions. This includes performance evaluations, disciplinary actions, and of course, compliance with all applicable employment laws, which includes liability and responsibility for the worker.

Most worker’s compensation policies include two types of insurance:

  1. Worker’s compensation, which provides benefits for the injured employee when it is the result of a work-related incident or illness;
  2. Employers liability coverage, which protects employers if they are sued for damages related to these work-related illnesses or injuries. In order for the injured individual to collect on this, however, they must prove that the employer was negligent or otherwise legally responsible for injury or illness.

When a covered employee suffers an injury or illness on the job, whether it is the fault of the employer or the employee, worker’s compensation insurance will provide them with covered services including medical care and treatment, wage replacement, costs for retraining if required, compensation for permanent injuries, and benefits to surviving family members if a worker is killed on the job. The compensation covers acute injury or illness (something that occurs suddenly or without warning), as well as injuries that occur over time such as repetitive-motion injuries like carpal tunnel syndrome or back injuries.

While the intent of purchasing these coverages for your medical staffing agency is to prevent a lawsuit should an injury occur on the job, it is important to understand that an employee can waive their right to coverage, especially if they feel their injury or illness was due to reckless or intentional injury on the part of the employer.

If the employee is successful in this type of lawsuit, they can receive a broad range of damages depending on the decision, which could include punitive damages, medical expenses, and lost wages, as well as compensation for pain and suffering and mental anguish.

Purchasing worker’s compensation insurance is one of the best ways to protect your medical staffing agency and its employees. And the knowledge that you cover your employees communicates to your clients that you care for the employees you send to them.