What was it about that workplace which made STD so
Here are some reasons why a company might have a culture of
1. THERE IS SOMETHING FUNDAMENTALLY
WRONG WITH THE WORKPLACE
Ask yourself – is your workplace a positive or negative place to
work? Don’t take low turnover as a sign that employees are hap-py.
You may need to examine how they feel about the relationship
with their supervisors. Does your environment have any unhealthy
chemicals that may lead to sickness? Are there any pressures at
work that may cause an employee to prefer to be at home, earning
only 60 per cent of their wage?
Recommendation: Look inwards first, and be proactive to as-sess
your company before a worker’s compensation board forces
you to change. Speak to your claims adjudicator, whether they are
an internal employee, a third-party administrator or an insurance
carrier. Ask them if they detect any signs that the workplace may
be the cause, and what you can do to fix it.
2. THE BENEFIT EXISTS, SO IT’S USED
Even the presence of the benefit in an employee booklet can lead em-ployees
to believe that it’s a “perk,” like other “benefits” of their plan.
Recommendation: Communicate that short-term disability is
meant for disability – not an elective sick leave – and claims will
be audited for validity of disability. Try to remove any perception
that it’s a “perk” of the job.
3. EMPLOYEES TEACH EACH OTHER
HOW TO USE THE BENEFIT
If distinct cliques exist within a workplace, they tend to help
each other out. It can happen where the STD approval pro-cess
is discovered, and one employee tells the rest how to make
Recommendation: Ask your claims adjudicator if they can see
a pattern: do claims come in at the same time of year? Do em-ployees
work in the same department? Don’t be afraid to ask more
questions or change the process of applying to STD. Require a
minimum level of medical evidence, especially if you see that the
same doctor is signing off on multiple claims.
I recognize that a unionized environment can make it tough to
change plan design wording, but processes and scrutiny can be in-creased
without necessarily going to collective bargaining.
4. DOCTORS WILL USUALLY SIGN OFF
Doctors have little time, and would prefer to help their patient
take time off if they can. They also have a legal obligation to listen
to a patient’s claim and do something about it. If they’re found to
have known about something, and refused to recommend time off,
it could be their name listed as a defendant.
Dave Crisp, former SVP HR at The Hudson’s Bay Company
and blogger at www.balance-and-results.com, warns against re-quiring
too much medical scrutiny for short sick claims (under
“What the company is really doing is punishing the employee
for being sick, by making them waste their and the doctor’s time.
WE HAVE SEEN MANY SITUATIONS WHEN AN
EMPLOYEE WAS DENIED EXTRA VACATION TIME, ONLY
TO SEE THEM SUBMIT A SHORT-TERM DISABILITY
CLAIM WHEN IT CAME DOWN TO THE WIRE.
42 ❚ JULY/AUGUST 2014 ❚ HR PROFESSIONAL