Abusing Workers’ Compensation

Montgomery County Maryland has a problem with employees abusing Workers’ Compensation to get more time off. (story here from the Washington Examiner) The problem is more prevalent with employees who have a week or less of remaining sick leave.

Montgomery County employees who have used up most of their sick leave are more likely to seek time off and extra pay through workers’ compensation, a benefit that costs taxpayers $16.5 million a year and officials say is rife with fraud.

Information from a data-driven oversight program, called CountyStat, also shows more than 400 county employees have filed three or more workers’ compensation claims in the last three years, and those who filed multiple claims are more likely to have little sick leave when they report an injury.

How much sick time do these toads get? Try three weeks – and it can accumulate year to year. In the private sector you generally get a week – use it or lose it.

Employees who are out on a workers’ compensation claim receive their full salary, as opposed to the private sector, which pays two-thirds of normal salaries. The county awards three weeks of sick time a year, and it’s not uncommon for employees to build up several months of sick leave barring a catastrophic illness.

And, to add insult to injury, they also file financial claims for their “injuries.”

Several county officials, including the former county attorney, have said that there is a large amount of fraud in the workers’ comp system and have chastised the Maryland Workers’ Compensation Commission for not doing enough to deter abuse. The commission flagged only 0.06 percent of statewide claims for potential fraud during a recent four-year period.

The CountyStat report also showed that employees with little sick leave who file comp claims are also more likely to seek financial compensation for their injuries in addition to paid time off. The Washington Examiner first reported that some minor injuries, such as sprains and strains, can costs upward of $48,000 per employee.

Not saying that all of this is fraud but we need to bring public sector compensation more in line with reality.

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