Labor Finders International is the granddaddy of day
labor temporary staffing companies. Florida and California are its
two largest markets. Its workers earn $10 to $13 an
By Peter Rousmaniere
In the best of times, the firm employed close to 200,000 workers.
Now its workforce is down to less than 100,000. I contacted them to
find out if they have experienced a rise in workers' compensation
claims due to its turnover in recent months.
The company hasn't, at least due in part to controls it has had in
place for some time to control for layoff-induced claims.
And here a number of us (not me, I am vain enough to say) have
been worry worts over the danger that when workers are laid off
they have a greater propensity to file claims.
Wayne Salen is the risk manager of the Palm Beach Gardens,
Fla.-based company. "We have a best practice that involves signing
in and out each day," he told me. "That signature confirms whether
or not they were injured or had an incident that might warrant any
"We'have not had any problems with post-employment filings since
we can go back to the date of alleged injury and find their
signatures attesting to no injury or illness following that day at
work with our customer. We bring the collaboration with our
customer to bear as to witnesses and with site supervisor in charge
of our temp placements."
Salen says that the temporary staffing industry, having been
around for years, has long since learned how to control for this
In search of further insights on how employers should manage in a
time of layoffs, I contacted Kevin Foy, a Baltimore-based lawyer
and a principal in CompResponse, which advises insured employers on
injury prevention, managing claims and keeping their insurers' feet
to the fire. Many of Foy's clients are in the highly volatile
Foy said the employer should do everything it can to encourage its
workers to immediately file unemployment claims, "in fact, perhaps
drive the employees down to the unemployment office."
When filing for unemployment benefits, the worker usually has to
say he is ready, willing and able to work. Foy, putting his
lawyer's hat on, says that "This gets the worker to honestly answer
those questions, usually under penalty of perjury that is in the
fine print, before a lawyer teaches him to create an injury. The
unemployment statements can be used, on the merits and for
impeachment purposes, to defend against the comp claim."
And this: "A exit questionnaire where the worker states he has not
had any work related injury might be helpful. The employer should
have its legal counsel review it for legal advice before
None of the above, Foy avows, can provide a guarantee that any
claims without merit will not be approved by a judge.
Harry Shuford, the chief economist for National Council on
Compensation Insurance, says flatly that "the conventional wisdom
is wrong"--claims do not surge during recessions. He found that in
six of the last seven recessions, workplace injury rates fell. In
five of six expansions, they rose. "There is every reason to
believe that this (recession induced) downward pressure will be
observed in the current economic downturn."
Have we hammered enough nails into this coffin?
PETER ROUSMANIERE is an expert on the workers' compensation
July 1, 2009
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