Open Enrollment Ends Tomorrow! Choose 1-888-OhioComp as Your MCO

 

A managed care organization can positively impact your premiums by returning injured workers to work, aggressively managing claims, and controlling claim costs.
 
1-888-OhioComp has the Highest Return to Work Rate for Lost Time claims of any MCO for injury years 2019 and 2020. Data Source: BWC Report SP20-04426 (1/21/21)

Open Enrollment for workers’ compensation Managed Care Organizations (MCO) ends May 28. COSE and Greater Cleveland Partnership (GCP) endorse and recommend 1-888-OhioComp as the Preferred MCO for our members. 

Don’t miss out on choosing 1-888-OhioComp as your MCO!

The deadline is tomorrow if you want to select 1-888-OhioComp as your MCO. Just click the link and fill out the form and return it to us by 5 p.m. May 28! 

Forms received after 5 p.m. on May 28 cannot be processed. Please fax the form to 216-446-6100 or email to enroll@1-888-ohiocomp.com.  

There are no costs for our services. If you have any questions or want to schedule a meeting, please call us at 1-888-644-6266. 

Open Enrollment Form

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  • Next up: Open Enrollment Continues Through May 28
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  • Open Enrollment Continues Through May 28

     

    1-888-OhioComp proudly serves Ohio’s employers and their injured workers. They commit their resources and staff to provide exceptional customer service, aggressive medical-claim management, and quality health care focused on early and safe return to work.

    1-888-OhioComp’s workers’ compensation services have the:

     - Lowest Claim Costs for Lost Time claims of any MCO.
     - #1 Rating in overall Employer Satisfaction for the 6 largest MCOs for 2018, 2019, and 2020.

      DATA SOURCE: BWC Report SP20-04427 and BWC Report

    Open Enrollment for workers’ compensation Managed Care Organizations (MCO) continues through May 28. COSE and Greater Cleveland Partnership (GCP) endorse and recommend 1-888-OhioComp as the Preferred MCO for our members.

    During the month of May, many Third-Party Administrators (TPAs) try to confuse employers and have them sign an AC-3 and an MCO enrollment form. An AC-3 will get you a quote for TPA services and does not obligate you; a signed MCO enrollment form automatically switches you to their MCO.

    Be careful what you sign in May.

    To select 1-888-OHIOCOMP as your MCO, just click the link and fill out the form and return it to us by May 28. It couldn’t be easier! There are no costs for our services. If you have any questions or want to schedule a meeting (virtual or in-person), please call us at 1-888-644-6266. 

    Enrollment forms received after 5 p.m. on May 28 cannot be processed. Please fax the form to 216-446-6100 or email enroll@1-888-ohiocomp.com.

    ENROLLMENT FORM

    CLAIMS MANAGEMENT

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  • Next up: Pets Can Help Manage Your COVID-19 Stress
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  • Pets Can Help Manage Your COVID-19 Stress

     

    Spending time around animals is just one of many ways to manage chronic stress and improve your mental health. As the COVID-19 pandemic has caused us to spend more time at home, many people have chosen to foster or adopt a pet. As it turns out, the animals aren’t the only ones benefiting from this arrangement.

    According to the Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI), spending time with pets can provide a wide range of benefits, from improved mood and reduced stress, to decreased loneliness and even lower blood pressure. Taking care of a pet creates a sense of connection and a routine, which is important in these uncertain times. Pets can also encourage their owners to stay active.

    If you’re considering adopting a furry friend, reach out to a local animal shelter such as the Cuyahoga County Animal Shelter or the Animal Protective League

    Even if pet ownership is not an option for you, there are other ways you can cope with the stress of COVID-19.

    Tips for Dealing with Stress
    Some signs you may be stressed, anxious or depressed include: feeling easily angered; having low energy; changes in appetite or sleep patterns; and increased alcohol or other substance misuse. If you’re feeling stressed, try the following:

    Get regular exercise; try walking for 30 minutes a day
    Eat a healthy diet
    Safely connect with others; schedule regular phone or video chats with family or friends
    Take breaks from the news and social media
    Make time for a hobby or a relaxing activity
    Keep a regular schedule for meals and sleep

    Get the Care You Need
    If your symptoms get worse or you feel unable to control your anxiety or stress levels, you may want to speak with a mental health provider. Mental health visits, including virtual visits known as telehealth (telemedicine), may be covered by your health plan. If you are a COSE MEWA member through Medical Mutual, use our provider search tool to get started. You can also visit Medical Mutual’s mental health resources page at MedMutual.com/MentalHealthGuide for more information.

    To learn more about other wellness benefits offered through a COSE MEWA health plan, please contact your broker or your Medical Mutual Sales representative. 

    Sources: Cleveland Clinic, ScienceDaily.com, HABRI.org

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  • Next up: COSE Member Benefits – Picking the Right Eyewear
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  • COSE Member Benefits – Picking the Right Eyewear

    Do you have trouble picking out your perfect pair of frames? You don’t need to be a fashion expert to find the right eyewear that looks great on you. With VSP® Vision Care and your COSE Membership, finding the right eyewear for you and your family is easy! 

    Choose from a wide selection of stylish frames and lenses when you visit your VSP network eye doctor’s office. Plus, for a limited time maximize your benefits with an extra $20  to spend,* on top of your allowance when you choose a featured frame brand* and save up to 40% on lens enhancements. ** Save even more through extra offers that are exclusive to Premier Program Practice locations, now including thousands of private practice doctors and over 700 Visionworks retail locations nationwide.* 

    Prefer shopping online? At Eyeconic® you can seamlessly connect your eyewear insurance coverage with your doctor’s expertise and try on hundreds of eyeglass frames virtually to see which styles complement your appearance with their Virtual Try-On-Tool. Need help getting started? Learn everything you need to know with their easy to follow Guide on How to Buy Glasses Online

    *Available only to VSP members with applicable plan benefits. Frame brands/promotions subject to change.

    **Savings based on doctor’s retail price and vary by plan and purchase selection; average savings determined after benefits are applied. Available only through VSP network doctors to VSP members with applicable plan benefits. Ask your VSP network doctor for details.

    Make vision health a priority, if you haven’t already, take advantage of your COSE member benefit and opt-in to VSP vision insurance. Contact your COSE sales representative or broker for more info.

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  • Next up: Planning a Company Social Event: How to Balance Recreation and Liability
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  • Planning a Company Social Event: How to Balance Recreation and Liability

    It's OK to have fun at your company social event, but you don't want to have too much fun. Here's how to avoid liability issues at your next workplace social gathering.

    Good work culture tops most employees’ wish lists (and most employers’, too), increasingly so in a time when employers must compete with each other by offering remote jobs, freelancing, and other worker-centric setups. Company social events like holiday parties can promote a winning work culture. But mixing business with pleasure comes with risks: successful company events invite an element of social life, as well as the risk of social pitfalls that may be inappropriate, dangerous, or even illegal.

    Forewarned is Forearmed

    Employers and their HR teams must be aware of the risks and potential liabilities associated with company events in order to protect themselves and their employees.

    The most prevalent risk comes from inappropriate social interactions, namely, sexual advances among co-workers. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits sexual harassment by an employer, including conduct that is unwelcome and sufficiently severe or pervasive. Though the Act offers no protection as between workers, an employer who fails to provide a safe work environment can run afoul of this federal law.

    Dangerous conduct by employees creates the risk of physical damage to person or property.  When an employee is injured at a company event, he or she may have recourse against the employer for unsafe work conditions. An injured third party may also be able to sue an employer for an employee’s actions under Ohio’s social host or dram shop laws or other legal theories, such as the doctrine of respondeat superior (let the master answer).

    Often overlooked, loss of good will is a serious matter and is more likely to happen to employers with undeveloped social media policies. Social media gives employees a platform to post company party interactions, both good and bad, and negative publicity can tarnish any company’s reputation.

    Make the Event Non-Denominational

    Employees likely have different backgrounds and worship different religions. To reduce the risk of a discrimination claim, it is advisable to avoid specific denominations (e.g. use “Holiday Party” and avoid “Christmas Party”).  You should also avoid displaying any religious symbols (e.g., manger scenes). Doing so allows employees of all religious backgrounds to feel comfortable attending and guards against religious discrimination claims.

    Neutralizing the Alcohol Factor

    Unsurprisingly, the greatest contributor to risky behavior is alcohol. If you decide to permit alcohol at your company’s social event, consider taking the following steps to mitigate risks associated with alcohol:

    • Distribute drink tickets or set a drink limit for attendees .
    • Skip the liquor – limit drink selection to “softer” alcohols like wine or beer.
    • Make it a cash bar.
    • Close the bar early to limit access to alcohol.
    • Ask bartenders and/or supervisors to be on the lookout for intoxicated attendees.
    • Arrange for transportation to and from an event.
    • Incentivize employees to be designated drivers.
    • Provide food and nonalcoholic beverages to curb alcohol consumption.
    • Limit attendance to 21 and over.
    • Schedule the party for earlier in the day.

    Accounting for Venue

    Incidents are more likely when company events are held off-site. This is due in part to preconceived standards of behavior in a familiar work setting, given that employees are used to behaving professionally in the office. However, keeping things in-house does place a bigger burden on the employer to monitor alcohol consumption and other activities.

    For company socials held on-site, consider hiring a professional bartender or food vendor, and assign supervisors to monitor the festivities. For outside venues, be sure to choose one that sends the right message about the type of event it will be. Consider choosing a restaurant instead of a karaoke bar, for example. Always be sure to confirm that all venues and service providers have the proper licenses.

    Another good way to set standards is with an appropriate dress code. A black-tie affair necessarily invokes a different atmosphere than a business casual event, and in most cases, a clear dress code can nip inappropriate or suggestive behavior in the bud. You should also have a keen eye for decorations, which should be neutral and considerate of the religious and cultural beliefs of your employees—especially during holiday parties.  

    Building the Guest List

    First and foremost, employers can avoid the risk of workers’ compensation and/or wage and hour claims by drawing clear distinctions between social events and employment functions. Employers should make it clear to employees that there is no work purpose for the social event and that attendance is always optional. Toward that end, employers should try to schedule events outside of normal work hours and avoid talking business or handing out performance awards during the event.

    Employers should also consider whether to invite guests such as significant others, family members, or general plus-ones. A strictly in-house social lends itself to riskier behavior because of the obvious familiarity that already exists between attendees.  A broader guest list, in contrast, can foster a more reserved, conservative dynamic which, in turn, may deter unwanted behavior.

    Employers should also strongly consider omitting their independent contractors from the guest list if the social event is “company only.” An employer’s everyday liability is generally higher for an employee than it is for a contractor, and the main distinction between the two boils down to how the employer interacts with its employees versus its independent contractors. In other words, inviting independent contractors to company events invites potential liability for misclassification of contractors as employees.

    Setting Expectations

    Before company events, employees should be reminded that the setting will be social but still professional. Any well-written employee handbook will set this expectation as a matter of course.

    Event policies, for that matter, should be clear and consistent with all other policies. Social media policies, for example, should set consistent standards for posts related to or depicting alcohol and other potentially inappropriate media. To the extent that social media posts are fully public, employers may consider monitoring and requesting removal of posts that may suggest affiliation with the company but fail to adhere to its policies.

    More touch points can be an effective way for employers to reinforce expectations leading up to company events. For example, pertinent sections of the employee handbook can be recirculated to employees via email, or these policies can be discussed at regular meetings, or included on inserts that accompany paychecks. It is a good idea to send a memo to employees prior to the event reminding employees that such policies are in effect and employees may be disciplined or terminated for violations of the policies or violations of law (e.g. be clear that employees may be terminated if they consume alcohol while being under the legal age or they provide alcohol to someone under the legal age).

    Investing in a Failsafe: Insurance

    The best-laid preparations can still be undermined. Insurance should be a last line of defense against liability but it may be desirable, even if only for peace of mind. Employers might consider the following policies when budgeting for an event:

    • General event insurance: protects against losses due to injury or damage by insured’s employees or agents.
    • Liquor law liability insurance: covers insured against accidental furnishing of alcohol to underage or already intoxicated patrons.
    • Cancellation insurance: helps cover costs when an event must be cancelled for a variety of reasons.
    • Venue insurance: covers for damage to a location while it is under the insured’s control, effectively insuring against repair costs to the venue.
    • Hired/non-owned auto insurance: provides liability coverage for vehicles rented for the event, as well as auto-related injury or damage to third parties.
    • Employment practices liability insurance (“EPLI”): covers businesses against claims by workers that their legal rights have been violated

    EPLI, in particular, can be a good catchall insurance that may protect employers from losses occasioned by activities that compromise a safe work environment, including sexual harassment, discrimination, wrongful discipline, and wrongful infliction of emotional distress, among others.

    This article is meant to be utilized as a general guideline for company social events. Nothing in this blog is intended to create an attorney-client relationship or to provide legal advice on which you should rely without talking to your own retained attorney first.  If you have questions about your particular legal situation, you should contact a legal professional.

    Max Julian is an attorney at The Gertsburg Law Firm. Julian’s practice is focused on commercial litigation. He can be reached at mj@gertsburglaw.com or by phone at (440) 571-7541.

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  • Next up: Potential Pitfalls in Avoiding Employment Disability Discrimination and Ways to Ensure Compliance
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  • Potential Pitfalls in Avoiding Employment Disability Discrimination and Ways to Ensure Compliance

    Once you're aware that one of your employees has a disability, your business needs to take steps to avoid discrimination against that employee. Read on to learn what qualifies as a disability and how your business can avoid ADA violations.

    Virtually every employer knows that they cannot discriminate against their employees—especially those that are part of a protected class. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act prohibits employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of sex, race, color, national origin, and religion. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) extends this list further to include, for example, age, disability, and pregnancy. (For more information regarding the complete list of these classes, see www.eeoc.gov/laws/types/index.cfm).

    Of these, perhaps the most ambiguous is the “disability” class, which is sometimes difficult to identify and protect.  This may be because not all employers know what actually constitutes a disability, or it simply may be because they do not have the proper policies in place. However, once an employee adequately advises the employer of a qualifying disability, the employer must avoid discriminating against the employee—whether intentionally or inadvertently—because of it.

    What qualifies as a disability?

    Under Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a person has a disability if he or she has, or has a record of having, a mental or physical impairment that substantially limits a major life activity. A substantial impairment is one that significantly limits or restricts a major life activity such as hearing, seeing, speaking, breathing, performing manual tasks, walking, caring for oneself, learning or working.

    An employee with a disability must be qualified to perform the essential functions of his or her job in order to be protected by the ADA. According to the EEOC, this means that the applicant or employee must satisfy the job requirements for educational background, employment experience, skills, licenses, and any other qualification standards that are job related, and be able to perform those tasks with or without reasonable accommodation. (See www.eeoc.gov/facts/ada17.html for more information).

    How is it possible for an employer to unintentionally discriminate against an employee based on disability?

    Unfortunately, there are various ways a company may unintentionally discriminate against an employee due to his or her disability. For example, take an employee who is not visibly disabled and does not appear to be a member of any protected class. This employee appropriately then informs his HR Department that he suffers from a hidden disability, such as a mental disorder, that causes him to miss work on occasion. Despite the company having knowledge of this disability, the employee’s manager is unaware of the condition and abruptly terminates the employee for occasionally missing work because of the disorder. This would be a potential violation of the ADA because the employer had requisite knowledge of the disability, and the manager terminated the employee because of it.

    The same would be true for a person that had any type of non-visible signs of a disability and appears to have it regularly under control, such a person who has diabetes but takes insulin to control it.  The employee would still be covered by the ADA because the determination as to whether a person has a disability is made without regard to mitigating measures, such as medications, reasonable accommodations, or aids. If an employee has a qualifying impairment, he or she is protected under the ADA regardless of the fact that the disease or condition or its effects may be corrected or controlled.

    In addition, it is possible for the employer to discriminate against a person who does not even have the disability. For example, it is unlawful to discriminate against an applicant or employee, even if they themselves are not disabled, because of their family, business, social or other relationship with an individual with a disability.

    How can my organization avoid violating the ADA?

    First, determine if your organization is covered by the ADA. Discrimination against people with disabilities is illegal if practiced by private employers, employment agencies, state and local governments, labor organizations and labor-management committees. The part of the ADA enforced by the EEOC outlaws job discrimination by all employers, including state and local government employers with 15 or more employees. Note that another part of the ADA, enforced by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), prohibits discrimination in any state and local government programs and activities, regardless of the number of employees.

    If you determine that your organization falls under the umbrella of the ADA, you must gain an understanding of what actually constitutes a “disability” under the ADA. If unclear, guidance can be  obtained from the EEOC, which even helps employers understand their responsibilities by conducting active technical assistance programs to promote voluntary compliance with the ADA. Assistance can also be obtained from other organizations, such as the DOJ, and/or from an attorney who has knowledge of employment law.

    Next, develop a plan to ensure that your organization properly accommodates applicants or employees who have qualifying disabilities. An employer's obligation to provide reasonable accommodation applies only to known physical or mental limitations. But once that limitation is known by the proper person at the company, they may be required to make an adjustment to a job or work environment that permits a person with a disability to participate in the job application process, to perform the essential functions of a job, or to enjoy benefits and privileges of employment equal to those enjoyed by employees without disabilities. Notably, however, it is not necessary to provide a reasonable accommodation if doing so would cause an undue hardship to the employer.

    Next, make sure to address any violations as soon as they appear. It is a violation for the employer to be aware of such discrimination, but fail to take adequate measures to correct it. To that end, ensure that your organization is thoroughly documenting the measures it is taking to adhere to the ADA— even those that may seem insignificant. Documenting such efforts not only helps ensure ADA compliance, but is also useful in the event an employee takes action against your organization for an alleged violation.

    Lastly, avoid unintentional discrimination by creating a policy to ensure that all covered practices are run past the person or Department within the organization that would have knowledge of any disability. Such covered practices include recruitment, pay, hiring, firing, job assignments, training, promotions, leave, lay-offs, benefits and all other employment related activities. This may sound burdensome to employer, but compliance with the ADA is required to ensure that all employees are given a fair opportunity, and failing to do so may also leave your organization open to legal liability.

    This article is meant to be utilized as a general guideline for avoiding discrimination of employees based on disability. Nothing in this blog is intended to create an attorney-client relationship or to provide legal advice on which you should rely without talking to your own retained attorney first.  If you have questions about your particular legal situation, you should contact a legal professional.

    An audit of your policies can help you avoid the pain of lawsuits. The Gertsburg Law Firm offers CoverMySix, a one-stop legal audit for your business, led by award-winning litigators and in-house counsel, now with new pricing for the Small Companies and Startups package. CM6 minimizes your exposure to lawsuits, investigations, disgruntled employees and customers, and all the damage that comes with them. Learn more about how to protect your business from lawsuits at covermysix.com.

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