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Scurich Insurance Services has been serving the Monterey Bay Area since 1924. Our mission is to partner with our customers and provide them superior service and value. We are a member of United Valley Insurance Services, Inc., a cluster of over 70 California Independent Insurance agencies, which produced over $530,000,000 of annual premium last year. At Scurich Insurance Services we understand your business and our community. Our customers look to us for comprehensive solutions. We have established relationships with more than 40 of the nation’s leading insurance providers, which allows us to deliver multiple, competitively-priced options and a team of experts to guide you through the process. When you need to file a claim, change a policy or process a certificate you can depend on Scurich Insurance Services to respond quickly to your request. SERVICES In order to provide value added benefits to our customers that go beyond the insurance policy Scurich Insurance Services offers the following additional services: Safety Programs – English and Spanish OSHA Compliance Safety Policies – English and Spanish Online OSHA 300 Log Safety Posters and Payroll Stuffers - English and Spanish Certificates of Insurance – If received before 3:30pm done the same day Risk Management Consulting Brokerage Services Represent most major insurance companies to better market your account. Safety tapes/DVD’s BUSINESS LINES Commercial Commercial Packages Business Auto Workers Compensation Umbrella Bonds Directors & Officers Professional Liability Employment Practices Liability Personal Auto Home Umbrella Recreational Vehicles Boatss Life & Health Individual Medical Individual Life Group Medical Group Benefits

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Posts tagged with employee - employee

Editor’s Column: Managing Is A Balancing Act

Author TonyScurich , 10/7/2016
I remember my wife and I going to a parenting class and learning the mantra, “firm, but fair.” It's okay to have clear rules in your household and enforce them; however, you want to do so in a fair manner. When we’re clear about the rules, we can be firm. . I'm sure you've shared my personal experience where parents or bosses have punished you for rules you never knew existed –until after you were punished for them!Often, the knowledge is so “commonsensical” to the parent or boss that they just assume the child or the employee know it also. Never mind that it took 20 years for that boss or parent to finally “get it” themselves. When we’re clear on the rules, there’s predictability. There’s integrity. There’s consistency. The rules don't change overnight based on emotions. When we’re out of balance on the side of clarity we’ll see people begin to fear us, rebel against us, and leave us – not a good outcome at home or work! When it comes to being fair, the first thing to remember is that life wasn't designed to be fair, either at work or at home. Life was designed to be a learning lesson. However, fairness has become the filter of today's workplace. Everyone wants to feel they're being treated fairly. ‘A fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work.’ Of course, what might seem fair to me could seem onerous to you. We treat people fairly when we follow the Golden Rule. By asking how we can serve and help others, practicing kindness and compassion despite any differences we may encounter along the way. We understand to separate the conduct from the person. Managers will continue to struggle with employees about work hours, compensation, communication, expectations, safety, insubordination, conflict, and more. Great managers, like great parents, strike the appropriate balance between firm and fair.

Protect Your Business When An Employee Leaves

Author TonyScurich , 9/19/2016
eMPLOYEE It's always difficult to terminate an employee - especially in this age of employment litigation and privacy concerns. Even if a worker leaves voluntarily, you need to make sure that he or she no longer has access to confidential information

The key to making sure that you've covered all bases of your bases is to follow a Departure Checklist:

  • When an employee leaves, whether voluntarily or involuntarily, notify all staff immediately to help reduce rumors, hurt feelings, and concerns. Keep the announcement positive.
  • Remove the employee from your facility soon as possible. Offering to have the person stay is nice, but might not always be helpful. If you decide to let the employee stay for the customary two weeks, assign him or her specific tasks to complete. Collect keys immediately and assign someone to work with the departing employee for the duration of their stay.
  • Once the decision has been made, restrict the employee's access to sensitive company information at once; be sure that this restriction includes any VPN or private access.
  • Have the employee review all items on which he or she is working and write a synopsis of what's needed to complete each item. Then review these items to create a specific workload transition plan, and assign them to other employees. The sooner you do this, the better.

The more you think through this process before a problem arises, the more effectively you'll be able to deal with it. We stand ready at any time to help you develop and implement an effective plan that can go a long way to help you protect your business from this risk.

 

Planning And Evaluation: The Keys To Effective Fire Drills

Author TonyScurich , 8/31/2016
3 If you held your last fire or emergency evacuation drill more than six months ago, it's time to think about staging another. Careful planning and evaluation can help you get the most out of these exercises, enhancing your employee's chances of a safe evacuation. Bear in mind that unannounced drills give you an idea of how workers might actually react in an emergency situation. On the other hand, announcing drills offer them the opportunity to prepare for and practice specific skill sets they would need. Before a fire emergency arises, workers need to know:
  • How to activate the appropriate alarm system(s).
  • How and when to contact the fire department.
  • What to do before they evacuate—such as shutting down equipment.
  • Their role in the evacuation. For example, they might need to assist disabled co-workers, help contractors or visitors on the premises, bring essential items such as visitor logs that can be used to verify that everyone is out of the building, provide first aid for injured co-workers, or act to prevent or minimize hazardous chemical releases.
  • How to evacuate their work area by at least two routes.
  • The locations of stairwells (workers should not use elevators to evacuate).
  • Places to avoid - such as hazardous materials storage areas.
  • Assembly points outside the building.
After the drill, evaluate the exercise to determine which problems need addressing. Ask such questions as:

Use Near Misses To Create A Safer Workplace

Author TonyScurich , 8/29/2016
1 A study commissioned by the British government found that for every lost-time injury of more than three days, there were 189 non-injury cases. No business can afford to ignore these near misses, which provide invaluable opportunities to identify and correct safety hazards on the job before they lead to accidents or injuries. However, according to an article in the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) journal, employees often resist reporting these close calls for such reasons as fear of management retaliation, peer pressure, concern about a safety record, complicated reporting forms and lack of feedback. To encourage employee reporting of near misses in the workplace, experts recommend these guidelines:
  1. Provide your employees with safety training.
  2. Develop strategies to measure how reporting near misses improves safety performance.
  3. Recognize and reward employees for proactive safety engagement.
  4. Have your safety committee oversee the reporting process.
  5. Provide incident investigations training for all managers that includes mentoring help for new staff members.
  6. Investigate everything! The time you spend investigating near misses will yield long-term rewards by eliminating the time, expense, and hassle of dealing with major (possibly fatal) injuries or property loss - not to mention the impact on productivity and workplace morale.
  7. Conduct comprehensive follow-up on corrective action plans. Ask who, what, and by when - and make sure that these changes are made.
  8. Report on all investigations. Making sure that every employee hears about every near miss will encourage reporting of future incidents, as workers realize that speaking out will help them do their work more safely.
Our agency's specialists would be happy to provide their advice on encouraging your employees to help keep their workplace safe. Just give us a call.

EMPLOYEES AND E-MAIL: SECURITY VS. PRIVACY

Author TonyScurich , 8/1/2016
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How can you oversee your employees' use of company e-mails without violating their privacy?

According to a recent nationwide survey, more than 40% of businesses monitor their workers' e-mails. If you're one of these companies, a disgruntled employee might well sue you for invasion of privacy (the number of privacy lawsuits has skyrocketed by 3,000% during the past decade). The best way to protect yourself against this risk is to create a written policy warning employees that you might be monitoring their use of e-mail. Bear in mind that because your business owns the e-mail system - software, network access, and computers - you have the legal right to oversee workers for misusing it to violate company policy or break the law. The first step in implementing this policy is to have all employees sign a disclaimer that acknowledges the company's right to monitor their e-mail. You can do this when an employee is hired, at contract renewal, or at a company meeting - and don't forget to circulate any updates to the policy throughout the company. Apply e-mail monitoring as uniformly as possible, because singling out an individual without a clear reason to do so could leave you vulnerable to a discrimination lawsuit. Finally, be sure to have your attorney review the policy. A comprehensive e-mail policy can: 1) provide an effective defense against invasion of privacy litigation 2) educate your employees on the proper use of e-mail - which should go far to reduce potential problems from misusing the system. If you'd like to learn more about how to balance protecting the integrity of your company's e-mail system with your employees' right to privacy, please get in touch with us. As always, we're here to help.

Is Your Cell Phone Policy Up To Date?

Author TonyScurich , 7/8/2016
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If not, you have a problem. For the past several years, more and more states and cities have limited or banned driver use of cell phones. Warns the Web site DrivingLaws.org, "Although employer responsibility isn't specifically defined in the cell phone legislation, there have been an increasing number of lawsuits relating to employer responsibility regarding mobile cell-phone use [by] employees."

With motor vehicle accidents the leading cause of work-related injuries, using cell phones behind the wheel ups the ante for litigation in case of death, injury, or other third-party claims. What's more, drivers injured while phoning on company time will generally be eligible for Workers Compensation.

The first step is to create and implement a cell-phone use policy for employees driving company vehicles. Although this won't protect you completely from legal responsibility, it demonstrates your forethought and responsibility.

This plan should include guidelines for:

  • Training. Provide instruction manuals so employees know the features of their phones.
  • Safety. Remind employees not to dial or talk when driving conditions are hazardous, keep conversations short, tell the other person that the employee is calling while driving, and turn off phones whenever they pump gas or use jumper cables.
  • Making calls. Discourage cell-phone use behind the wheel and require drivers to pull over and stop when dialing.
  • Voice mail/caller ID. Make sure drivers' phones have these features so they can screen calls behind the wheel.
  • Accident/injury reports. Require employees to report any accidents or injuries resulting from cell-phone use while driving.
  • Discipline. Punish workers who violate these rules or local or state laws about using cell phones behind the wheel.

We'd be happy to help you develop a comprehensive policy for drivers' use of cell phones. Just give us a call.


How Can Workers Prove Chronic Pain: Case Studies to Learn From

Author TonyScurich , 6/15/2016
Unfortunately, you can't actually see chronic pain. You can talk to someone who physically looks fine, yet is claiming they can barely stand up. Since pain is felt differently by different people, medical professionals and laypeople alike have difficulty categorizing and defining the more severe injuries. This leads to confusion and sometimes outright fraud. Let's look at how pain is defined by using a specific case study. A Question of Proof How injured do you have to be to claim injury? Do you have to be constantly writhing in agony or is it only when you make specific motions? These are specific questions that get a bit touchy. Recently, a man who filed for compensation claimed that he needed a wheelchair but was then shown to be out of his home shopping without it (and seemingly without pain) through video surveillance. They also had him on camera performing a number of other activities as well. He was arrested with the possibility of up to five years in jail. Since the amount paid out due to his injury was more than a half million dollars, it's certainly brought about some attention in his area of Florida. The man was a deputy there, and was injured when bending to get his laptop from the trunk of his police cruiser in 2007. After that, he went through surgery and stated that he couldn't walk, drive or bend, which has then been shown to be false by videos. He states that he had always been consistent in reporting his pain to be inconsistent because no two days are alike. He says that while the video may show him driving and running errands, he can only do so in limited ways. He claims his whole life is a mess, with his job ripped out from under him and expenses piling up. It's now up for the courts to decide who has the better claim and what will happen. Employer Tips  No employer wants to follow their employee around constantly to check up on their progress and verify the truth in their claims. Also, it's difficult to accuse someone who's experienced severe injuries of trying to game the system. However, sometimes it's necessary with the case of chronic pain to be more involved. Medical professionals have been shown consistently to raise costs without cause in certain areas where they have direct financial incentives to do so as well. Through questions and visits, you can start to see the character of the person behind the claim as well as the treatment they're receiving. If you do suspect foul play on either side, then your insurance company will be more than happy to help. After all, they stand to lose out on fraudulent claims too.

Scurich 1/6 - Are you offering your employees the best benefits possible?

Author TonyScurich , 5/19/2016

Finding -- and keeping -- great employees is always the challenge of any business. While recruiting and training employees can be an expensive process, it is an investment in the growth and well-being of your company. In order to protect your investment, you need to make sure you are giving your employees the best benefits for their needs. 

Health Insurance

Whether you are required by the federal government to provide health insurance to your employees or not, you should offer them the choice. In addition, paying for a certain portion of that health insurance goes a long way toward retaining those high-quality employees you worked so hard to find and train. 

Retirement Plans

If you have a young workforce, you might not think that they are concerned about retirement. Even though young people thrive on adventure, it doesn't mean that they aren't planning for their retirement. Offering the option to pay into a retirement plan helps your employees plan for their future and makes them feel like you are invested in that with them. 

Other Benefits

While other benefits such as life insurance, disability insurance and vision and dental coverage might not be on the must-have list for all of your employees, it is still important to offer them these options. Providing a range of different benefits allows your employees to pick and choose those options that best fit their situation at that time. You will likely find that their choice of benefits changes as their life circumstances change. A 20 year old employee, for example, might not be interested in obtaining life insurance until he becomes a father years later. 


10 Costly Return-To-Work Mistakes

Author TonyScurich , 4/15/2016
4 By decreasing work time lost from to job-related injuries and illnesses, Return-to-Work (RTW) programs can reduce your insurance costs (Workers Compensation, Disability, and Medical insurance), strengthen workplace morale, boost productivity - and help protect you against ADAAA litigation. Here are ten common mistakes by businesses when using RTW:
  1. Failure to manage the higher number of employees covered by the ADAAA. An expanded definition of disability has increased the number of employees under the ADA to the point that some attorneys advise against fighting disability claims.
  2. Insisting on employee release to "full duty" before returning to work. This raises Workers Comp costs and the possibility of the employee not returning to work when medically possible.
  3. Ignoring co-morbidities. Health issues that complicate or delay an employee's recovery (such as diabetes, obesity, and hypertension) can increase Comp claims.
  4. Failure to commit the necessary budget or resources. The costs of absences and non-compliance with government rules is usually far higher than that of implementing an RTW.
  5. Reluctance to set transitional assignments because employees "might get reinjured." It's even riskier to have them stay at home and develop a "disability attitude" that extends the absence and boosts costs.
  6. Failure to distinguish "light duty" from "transitional work." The ADAAA permits employers to reserve less physically demanding or "light-duty" jobs for those with work-related disabilities - and these jobs should be distinct from transitional tasks.
  7. Relying on physicians to guide the RTW process. Although physicians are medical experts, they're not familiar with workplace policies, job demands, and the availability of transitional work.
  8. Failure to understand overlapping and conflicting laws. The clashing requirements of insurance companies and state and local governments can be a nightmare.
  9. Inability to focus on the goal. An Integrated Benefits Institute study ranked a focus on the employee's job as the major success factor in successful RTW programs.
  10. Believing that Workers Comp settlements resolve other liabilities. One size does not fit all.
 

Protecting A Business From Sexual Harassment Lawsuits With EPLI Coverage And Prevention Steps

Author TonyScurich , 4/4/2016
By now, employers should all realize and understand that sexual harassment is illegal. However, what employers might not be aware of is that the U.S. Supreme Court issued two rulings in June of 1998 that expanded what is termed sexual harassment; expanded the responsibility that employers have to provide a work environment that's non-hostile; and did away with harassed employees having to prove that their company holds some responsibility or that their career suffered from lack of promotion, firing, demotion, or such. Employers are now directly responsible for employee behavior, thereby giving harassed employees more recourse in bringing about legal actions against employers. Work-related harassment and discrimination cases have been climbing steadily since the Civil Rights Act of 1991 allowed for trial by jury, compensatory damages, and punitive damages in legal cases involving discrimination. In fact, according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the amount of annual employment harassment and discrimination cases being filed grew by more than 13% between 1997 and 2009.

Any employer that's ever been involved in a sexual harassment suit can attest that the cost to settle or defend a sexual harassment lawsuit can be jaw dropping. The average award for damages in these types of lawsuits is around $650,000, and that isn't even including the secondary cost from workplace disruption, bad publicity, and those involved in the suit being absent from work.

What Constitutes Sexual Harassment? The first step in protection is understanding what is defined as sexual harassment. State and federal law prohibits behavior that involves an employee in authority basing professional expectations or decisions regarding a subordinate employee being willing or unwilling to exchange sexual acts. The following are examples of such behavior:

  • Altering expectations of job performance when a subordinate repeatedly refuses advances for a date or sexual encounter.
  • A superior demanding sexual acts in order for a subordinate to receive a raise or promotion.
  • Disciplinary action, including termination, of a subordinate that refuses sexual advances or ends an existing romantic relationship.
However, sexual harassment doesn't always involve a subordinate/authority figure relationship. An offender can be anyone from a coworker to a customer or business vendor. The offender can be male or female, as can the victim. Furthermore, the victim doesn't even need to be the employee actually harassed. Anyone that's affected by the harassing or offensive behavior can be termed a victim; for example, an employee that overhears two other employees discussing a taboo subject. The two employees directly involved might not be offended, but if the overhearing employee is offended, then it can constitute sexual harassment.

Verbal, visual, physical, or written behavior that causes another employee to view the work environment as hostile, are unwanted, or focus on the sexuality or gender of another person may constitute as sexual harassment. Specific examples of such would be teasing, suggestive objects or pictures being displayed, and repetitively requesting sexual acts or dates verbally or in writing.

Protection with Employment Practices Liability Insurance (EPLI). After knowing what constitutes sexual harassment, businesses can further financially protect themselves with Employment Practices Liability insurance (EPLI). This is an insurance to protect employers when an employee makes the claim that their legal rights have been violated. Although policies vary, EPLI generally doesn't cover criminal or civil penalties and punitive damages. EPLI does generally cover settlements, judgments, and incurred legal costs arising from an array of incidences - wrongful termination, employment contract breaches, employment and promotion failures, wrongful disciplinary actions, wrongful emotional distress infliction, negligent employee evaluations, employee benefit plan mismanagement, discrimination, and sexual harassment.

Coverage is specific. So, before purchasing a policy, decide who should be covered. For example, should full and part-time employees, contracted persons, supervisors, department heads, subsidiaries, company divisions, and so forth be covered or not? One other note about EPLI is that it's mandatory for employers to report incidents within a reasonable amount of time. Some policies might feature an ERP (extended reporting period) or prior acts. The length, cost, and availability vary by carrier.

Purchasing EPLI has been challenging for small companies in the past. However, the 2004 rate increases have somewhat plateaued. Some rates have even decreased. Keep in mind that EPLI cost is figured based on the business type, employee numbers, and past lawsuits associated with the business.

Prevention of Harassment Lawsuits. Prevention is the cornerstone in decreasing the risk of a sexual harassment lawsuit. Prevention steps include the following key elements:

  • If the business has EPLI, any incident should be reported immediately.
  • Create, communicate, and enforce a zero-tolerance policy for workplace sexual harassment.
  • Have an effective harassment complaint process in place and take immediate, consistent, and appropriate action when a complaint is made.
  • Thoroughly document all complaints and the following investigation and actions.