Workers’ Compensation Notice Changes for All California Employers

Last Updated: October 5, 2010


The State of California, Department of Industrial Relations, Division of Workers’ Compensation (DWC) has amended regulations and related notices, forms, and posters regarding information all CA employers must provide to employees about their rights and obligations under workers’ compensation, particularly involving Medical Provider Networks (MPNs).

All California employers need to implement changes effective October 8, 2010.

As you may know, an MPN is a network of physicians and other providers created by California workers’ compensation insurers or self-insured employers and approved by the DWC. An MPN provides medical treatment for work-related injuries and illnesses. While not all workers’ compensation plans use MPNs, since 2005 when the program was first implemented, many plans have adopted them as a way to control the costs and effectiveness of delivering medical care under the state’s workers’ compensation program.

Current workers’ compensation regulations require, amongst other things, that all employers do the following:

  • Provide a pamphlet with general information about workers’ compensation coverage to all new employees;
  • Post the general workers’ compensation informational poster entitled, “Notice to Employees-Injuries Caused by Work” (DWC 7);
  • Provide an injured worker with a “Workers’ Compensation Claim Form and Notice of Potential Eligibility” DWC 1);
  • Provide all new employees with an MPN notice 30 days prior to the implementation of an MPN, at the time of hire, or when an employee currently receiving treatment outside of an MPN transfers into the MPN, “whichever is appropriate to ensure that the employee has received the initial notification.” The MPN notice must also be provided again to an employee at the time of an injury. Most employers have understood that they needed to provide this notice under all of these circumstances. This has been a source of confusion.

The new regulations make the following key changes to the current requirements effective October 8, 2010:

  • The new employee pamphlets must now include updated information on MPNs;
  • The DWC 7 poster has been updated;
  • The DWC 1 claim form has been updated;
  • At the time of first implementing an MPN or when an employee is hired where an MPN is utilized, an employer is still required to provide an MPN notice. However, the new regulations have shortened the amount of information that must be in this initial notice and no longer require that it be distributed 30 days prior to implementing a new MPN. This “MPN Implementation Notice” directs employees to the general workers’ compensation and supplemental MPN posters;
  • A new, detailed MPN notice (“MPN Employee Notification”) must now include much of the information formerly required in the initial MPN notice with the addition of some new information including contact information for the MPN;
  • The MPN Employee Notification must now be posted next to the DWC 7 poster at all employer locations and only has to be provided in writing to employees at the time of injury or when an employee with an existing injury begins treatment under the MPN. It is not required for new hires;
  • All MPN notices and posters must be provided in Spanish only where there are Spanish speaking employees;
  • An employer may now distribute all MPN notices (NOT posters) electronically to all covered workers who have regular electronic access to email at work.

Consequences for failure to comply:

If an employer fails to provide required notice, an employee may be treated by his/her own personal physician for any injury during the period of non-compliance. Such an employer is also subject to a civil penalty of up to $7,000 for each violation and the tolling of the statute of limitations for filing claims.

For a detailed summary of all the changes including a list of what elements need to be in the required notices, see the DWC’s publication,
“Final Statement of Reasons and Updated Information Digest” or the actual
Regulations.

What should employers do?

Starting October 8, 2010:
ALL California employers must:

  • Update the current workers’ compensation pamphlets that they are distributing to all new hires. Many employers use the CWCI’s pamphlet entitled
    “Facts about Worker’s Compensation” to meet this requirement, while other employers get a pamphlet or a notice from their specific carrier. Check with your current carrier and make sure the pamphlets you are using going forward have been amended based upon the new regulations and are approved by the DWC;
  • Post the new “Notice to Employees-Injuries Caused by Work” poster (DWC 7)i
    ;
  • Provide the new, updated “Worker’s Compensation Claim Form and Notice of Potential Eligibility” (DWC 1)i to any injured workers (be sure to discard all copies of the old claim forms).

Employers who maintain an MPN must also:

  • Develop a new MPN Implementation Notice for use with new hires or if you are implementing an MPN for the first time. Your carrier may be able to provide these notices for you.
  • Update or redraft your current MPN notice so that it meets the new requirements of the MPN Employee Notification. While this new notice only needs to be given at the time of injury or when an employee with an existing injury begins treatment under the MPN, it would be wise to provide it to all current employees so that they are in possession of the most current information about your MPN and their rights. Again, check with your carrier for help.
  • Post a copy of the new MPN Employee Notification next to  your new DWC 7 Poster.

If you need help with any of the above, please contact your workers’ compensation broker, carrier, or third-party administrator or call Vantaggio for assistance at 949-248-0800.

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