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News and Updates

Surety HR: Not Your Average PEO

Posted By Brandy King
June 11, 2021 Category: PEO, Professional Employer Organization, Workers' Comp, Ohio BWC, Pros And Cons Of PEOs, Payroll, HR, Safety, Outsourcing, FMLA, Unemployment, Benefits

When we talk to prospects about Surety HR, our self-insured PEO (professional employer organization), we get a lot of very different reactions - confusion, curiosity, blank stares and occasionally – a crossed-arm refusal to hear anything else about it. We knew when we began building our PEO that several employers have a bad taste in their mouth about PEOs, usually after having (or hearing about) a bad experience.  That’s one of the many reasons we sought out these opinions to help build our framework based on what employers feel does or does not work.  The biggest thing we want to make clear is that we are not our competition.  We don’t charge based on a percentage of payroll, baking everything together so that you’ll never really know how much you’re paying for any of our services. When employers are looking for some of the solutions a PEO can provide, they are not always looking to move all their employment-related needs under one umbrella.  This is why larger, mature, and sophisticated companies have avoided entering into a PEO relationship.  Surety HR is a sister company of Spooner Incorporated – an unrivaled TPA and consulting firm with less than 2% client turnover.  Because of this foundation, our focus is more on lowering workers’ comp premiums instead of bundling services that you may not need or want.  It also means if and when you decide it’s time to exit the PEO, the process will b

Where is BWC's Group Retro Program Headed?

Posted By Brandy King
June 11, 2021 Category: OHio BWC, Workers' Comp, Group Retro, ACES, Claim Reserves, Group Retro Assessments

  In our last few blogs and newsletters, we’ve been updating you on the changes we’re noticing in Ohio BWC’s Group Retro program.  Initially, there was the withholding of 2018 and 2019 refunds (six total payouts for participating employers). Then, we began noticing the overall degradation of retro refunds.  Most recently, we’ve noticed how BWC’s changes to their claim reserve calculations are having a tremendous impact on the performance of Group Retro pools.  For those of you who didn’t read our post about reserve calculations, here’s an abridged version: workers’ comp claims have a dollar amount reserved at the onset of a claim (yes, even if you do salary continuation) for additional funds that the insurer thinks it may end up costing.  BWC’s method of calculating reserves changed in January 2021 and Spooner’s tracking of these trends show reserves increasing as much as 1900% on some claims. Why does it matter? That pretend money is treated like real money when your experience is calculated for the next year, determining your premiums. That $5000 ankle sprain is now a $29,000 ankle sprain, and the insurer (BWC) will recoup their losses from you accordingly.  We’ve been tracking the impact these reserves have on Group Retro, and it shows a vast majority of the pools underperforming.  Some competitors even show the possibility of an assessment, meaning that policyholder

Another Successful Open Enrollment for Spooner Medical Administrators

Posted By Brandy King
June 11, 2021 Category: MCO, Open Enrollment, Medical Costs, Workers' Compensdation, Managed Care Organizations, Ohio BWC

Our MCO, Spooner Medical Administrators, had another successful open enrollment this past May! We realize that marketing can be very cut-throat (and not always transparent) during the short biennial enrollment period, and other MCOs may have offered you the moon to stray from SMAI.  Despite what other MCOs and the BWC’s report card might say about SMAI - we continue to have controlled, steady growth and incredible retention.  The Spooner family of companies would like to thank the thousands of businesses that chose to retain SMAI as their MCO, and the hundreds of new companies that chose SMAI as their new partner.  We look forward to continuing to build our relationships with you and are thankful for our 12th consecutive successful

Learn More About Our MEP 401(k) Program

Posted By Brandy King
June 11, 2021 Category: Finance, Retirement Plans, MEP, 401(k), Small Employer, Mid Sized Employer, Benefits, Retention Tools, Financial Security

Want to learn more about The Spooner Risk Control Services, Inc. MEP 401(k)?  If your company has thought of offering a retirement plan, but the idea has been sidelined by the (typically) tremendous costs and complications of putting it in place, we'd like to invite you to learn more about our multi-employer plan (MEP). Spooner clients of any size can take advantage of our MEP Retirement Plan Solution for themselves and their employees.  Fiduciary support and guidance is provided for you as an employer, and for your employees. Take advantage of Spooner’s economy of scale and save on plan costs and administrative time, plus take advantage of potential tax credits for starting a retirement plan.  What is a Multiple Employer 401(k) Plan or MEP? A MEP is an IRS approved 401(k) that allows unaffiliated employers to adopt into a retirement plan sponsored by a third party that bears responsibility for administering the plan (Spooner, in this case). Our MEP is a great way to provide your employees with a retirement plan without the costly price tag for setup, maintenance costs, and fiduciary liabilities. What are the advantages of Spooner’s MEP? It's easy. By joining our MEP, most of your administration work is done by another party. It's inexpensive. The MEP provides large-plan pricing regardless of your company’s size. It provides for your employees. Independent, no-commissions advice to balance your employees’ needs

Safety Council Program Update

Posted By Brandy King
June 11, 2021 Category: Ohio Bwc, Bwc Safety Council, Safety Council Program, PAR, Workers' Comp, Premium Savings,

Ohio BWC’s Safety Council Rebate Program will remain suspended for the 2021 policy year (7/1/21-6/30/22).  While many safety councils are still hosting web-based meetings each month, no rebates will be paid. This means attendance is not mandatory, but Spooner still urges its clients to participate in safety council events to stay educated and use the info to help reduce incidents.  •    All meetings will continue to be virtual •    There will be no semi-annual reports collected in 2021 •    BWC will host two virtual statewide safety council meetings  •    No rebates will be paid While the Safety Council Rebate is unavailable in the coming year, there are other cost-saving programs available through BWC that may be worth exploring.  Substance Use Recovery and Workplace Safety Program – A reimbursement program for substance use policy development, training and drug testing  (currently available in participating counties but soon to rollout statewide) Better You, Better Ohio! –  A health and wellness program where employees can earn incentives  Policy Activity Rebate (PAR)  - A customizable plan that allows employers to earn a rebate. Employers enrolled in Group Rating, Group Retro, Individual Retro and Deductible program are not eligible for

Why We Fight (For Your Group Retro Refunds)

Posted By Brandy King
June 11, 2021 Category: Ohio BWC, Group Retro, Refunds, Dividends, 2018 PY, 2019 PY, State Fund

  Many Ohio employers have rejoiced over the big checks issued by Ohio BWC in the last few years, a boast that the state’s strategies that have yielded enough to share dividends with policyholders. While it’s easy to understand the excitement when you’re getting five, six, or even seven figure checks from BWC – we all know there’s no such thing as a free lunch.  Many of the businesses gladly cashed those checks not realizing that Ohio BWC wouldn’t be sending checks for refunds earned from the Group Retrospective (retro) program for the 2018 and 2019 policy years.  Employers who participate in the Group Retro program are rebated after the policy year ends, based on their group’s actual performance throughout the year. The pool establishes a premium level throughout the policy year - and when the actual losses come in lower than that, the consortium members are rebated their share of the difference.  While no vendors were provided with the total that Group Retro refunds would have been for those years, Spooner’s actuarial department estimates that Group Retro refund totals for all participating policyholders during those years would have been as follows: •    $190,000,000 for the 2018 policy year   •    $155,000,000 for the 2019 policy year  These projections include what would be all three years of refund payments for each policy year, not just the first y

Surprise, It's OSHA! Dos and Don'ts for Surprise Inspections

Posted By Brandy King
June 09, 2021 Category: OSHA, OSHA Inspections, Surprise Inspection, Opening Conference, Informal Conference, OSHA Compliance, Safety, LO/TO, OSHA 300, Recordkeeping

Under the new administration, we have already seen a significant difference in approaches compared to the previous ones. Here is a recent example: An employee gets his arm caught in a machine and is hospitalized. Historically, in addition to the standard 5 years of OSHA 300/300A - OSHA would be looking at the machine and requesting the Lock Out/Tag Out (LO/TO) program. Now when OSHA shows up, it may look more like this: They look at the machine, request LO/TO and their written HazCom GHS program, Employee Orientation (onboarding) program, all LO/TO training documentation for Authorized and Affected employees, PPE Hazard Assessments, work instruction/training on machine in question, and Forklift Training Documentation. Is all of this requested material directly related to the incident? Not exactly - but they're going to expect you to supply it, regardless.  Having said that, Spooner is encouraging all of our clients to review their OSHA Compliance, which should include all your written programs, sub-elements under those programs, and your facility. If you think you have nothing to worry about, ask yourself this: Once OSHA is in our facility, could we supply all of that requested documentation?    Speaking of having OSHA at the door, we get a lot questions (and panicked phone calls) on that subject. To help you navigate that anxiety-inducing situation, here are some basic steps to take if you receive a “surprise” visit

Updates to OSHA’s Electronic Submission Requirements

Posted By Brandy King
June 09, 2021 Category: OSHA, 300A, Injury Reporting, Safety, Compliance

Have you been submitting your 300A online?  OSHA has required online submission of the 300A for a few years, and now they’re going to start ensuring companies have been submitting them during inspections. What does the rule require? The new rule, which went into effect Jan. 1, 2017, requires certain employers to electronically submit injury and illness data that they are already required to record on their onsite OSHA Injury and Illness forms. Analysis of this data will enable OSHA to use its enforcement and compliance assistance resources more efficiently. Some of the data will also be posted to the OSHA website. OSHA believes that public disclosure will encourage employers to improve workplace safety and provide valuable information to workers, job seekers, customers, researchers and the general public. Compliance schedule The new reporting requirements: •         Establishments with 250 or more employees in industries covered by the recordkeeping regulation must submit information from their 2021 Form 300A by March 2, 2022. •         Establishments with 20-249 employees in certain high-risk industries must submit information from their 2021 Form 300A by March 2, 2022. https://www.osha.gov/injuryreporting/  New Enforcement  OSHA has set enforcement guidance regarding potential violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) rule requiring electronic submittal of i

Looking Ahead: 2022 Ohio BWC Program Enrollment For the Savvy Buyer

Posted By Brandy King
June 09, 2021 Category: General

  Even though the 2021 BWC policy year won’t start until next month (7/1/21), we’re already getting out quotes for 2022 Group Rating and Group Retro programs. It can be hard to feel like a savvy buyer when it comes to workers’ comp in Ohio, but Spooner would like to share some pointers for how to understand the timeline and choose the best partner.   If you’re thinking of changing your partner for Group Rating or Group Retro, be sure not to complete the renewal that your current TPA sends this summer. Most employers don’t realize that signing a form and cutting a check in June 2021 will obligate them to stay with their current TPA through June of 2023. Make sure your accounting team is aware of this, too. We’ve seen too many unhappy customers of other TPAs get trapped this way.  Are you under the impression that because you’re a member of XYZ Chamber of Commerce, you have to utilize their partner for workers’ comp programs? Not the case! The sponsoring organization frames it that way because there’s money on the table.  For example, if you are a XYZ Chamber member (who is partnered with Sedgwick) and you want to leave Sedgwick, XYZ Chamber makes less money. Naturally, they want you to stay with Sedgwick and may even advise you can’t get that discount outside of their partnership. This is patently false. Most TPAs have access to all of the same Group Rating and Group Retro programs for all in

Continued COVID Guidance: New OSHA ETS, FFCRA Update, Mask Mandates and Re-Entry following Travel

Posted By Brandy King
June 09, 2021 Category: FFCRA, ARPA, FMLA, EFMLA, Ohio Mask Mandate, Dewine, Compliance, COVID 19, Employer Requirements, Employee Leave, International Travel, OSHA ETS, Emergency Temporary Standard, Healthcare Industry

June 2021 OSHA Emergency Temporary Standard  More guidance has been issued from OSHA, directed at healthcare industry employers such as hospitals, emergency responders, long term care, etc. The new Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) for Covid-19 went into effect June 10, 2021.  You can find a great summary here that also includes a link to the flowchart on OSHA.gov.    June 2021 COVID & FFCRA Update The FFCRA was mandatory for many employers until December 31 of 2020.  The previous administration extended the paid leave provisions of the FFCRA through March 31, 2021 – however, the extension was no longer mandatory. If employers chose to provide paid leave benefits due to COVID, they were still eligible to receive the tax credit to offset the costs of paying employee leave.  Additionally, President Biden extended the FFCRA provisions in the American Rescue Plan Act (“ARPA”) through September 30, 2021.  Biden also added some new components of the paid leave, which include: •    Additional reasons employees can take paid leave        o    Time spent in order to get the vaccine        o    Time from work missed due to complications from the vaccine  •    The 80 hour limit reset on April 1, 2021        o    Meaning if an employee exhausted their Paid Sick Leave before Ma

Spooner Medical Administrators, Inc. URAC Accredited

Spooner Medical Administrators, Inc. URAC Accredited

Posted By Spooner MAI
April 23, 2021 Category: Workers Compensation

URAC's case management accreditation standards require companies to establish the policies, procedures, and structure needed for optimal case management

Spooner Medical Administrators, Inc. Pharmacy Reports

Spooner Medical Administrators, Inc. Pharmacy Reports

Posted By Spooner MAI
April 23, 2021 Category: Workers Compensation

Our best practice of providing access to “pharmacy reports” helps lower workers’ compensation costs by ensuring prescription requests are medicinally appropriate for each

Spooner Medical Administrators, Inc. Web Access

Spooner Medical Administrators, Inc. Web Access

Posted By Spooner MAI
April 23, 2021 Category: Workers Compensation

Spooner MAI's best practice of "web access" helps to lower the costs of workers' compensation by ensuring that employers have access to all of the information that they need in a timely manner. All of our best practices help to ensure that every treatment and payment is medically appropriate for each claim.

Spooner Medical Administrators, Inc. Customized Claim Reports

Spooner Medical Administrators, Inc. Customized Claim Reports

Posted By Spooner MAI
April 23, 2021 Category: Workers Compensation

Spooner MAI’s best practice of “customized claim reports” helps lower workers’ compensation costs by ensuring that every treatment and payment is medically appropriate for each

Spooner Medical Administrators, Inc. Utilization of Experienced and Independent Nurses

Spooner Medical Administrators, Inc. Utilization of Experienced and Independent Nurses

Posted By Spooner MAI
April 23, 2021 Category: Workers Compensation

Spooner MAI's best practice of "utilization of experienced and independent nurses" helps lower workers' compensation costs by ensuring that every treatment and payment is medically appropriate for each

Spooner Medical Administrators, Inc. Bi-Weekly Management Contact

Spooner Medical Administrators, Inc. Bi Weekly Management Contact

Posted By Spooner MAI
April 23, 2021 Category: Workers Compensation

Spooner MAI's best practice of 'bi-weekly management contact" helps lower workers' compensation cost by ensuring that every treatment and payment is medically appropriate for each

Spooner Medical Administrators, Inc. One Point of Contact

Spooner Medical Administrators, Inc. One Point of Contact

Posted By Spooner MAI
April 22, 2021 Category: Workers Compensation

Spooner MAI's best practice of "one point of contact" helps lower the workers' compensation costs by ensuring that every treatment and payment is medically appropriate for each

Why You Need a TPA (and a Service Contract!) for Ohio Workers' Comp

Why You Need a TPA (and a Service Contract!) for Ohio Workers Comp

Posted By Mike Kowalski
April 21, 2021 Category: Workerscomp, Tpa, OhioBWC, Spoonerinc

If an Ohio employer wants to participate in a BWC sponsored discount program, they need to partner with a TPA (third-party administrator).  Failure to do so can cost employers thousands, if not tens of thousands, in additional premiums annually. In addition to getting employers discounts on their workers’ comp premiums, TPAs work for the employer – not for BWC.  Your TPA should be advocating on your behalf to manage all aspects of your workers’ comp claims and policy, including (but not limited to): Proper program placement Claims investigations Claims management Workplace safety programs Compliance and deadlines Attorney representation at Industrial Commission hearings   If you rely on your TPA to manage workers’ comp claims (and you should be – you’ve paid them to!), you need a service agreement in place to protect you and provide terms for your relationship. Have you read your contract with your TPA?  Do you even have one?    If your TPA doesn’t have a service contract that spells out what services they are providing, ask them why that is.  Often, we see that employers just get an invoice from their TPA with the amount due.  In the event of a claim, do you know if you’re paying your TPA for anything more than a discount? Due to TPAs holding the key to BWC sponsored discount programs –many Ohio employers don’t realize that their TPA’s main objective should

Spooner Medical Administrators, Inc. Best Practices

Spooner Medical Administrators, Inc. Best Practices

Posted By Spooner MAI
April 21, 2021 Category: Workers Compensation

At Spooner MAI, we have several best practices to help employers navigate through the complicated BWC system and help their employees get back to work as soon as

More OSHA Updates: New Administration, New Standards, HCS Updates and More

Posted By Brandy King
April 16, 2021 Category: OSHA, Safety, OSHA Updates, HAZCOM, HCS, Heat Illness, Occupational Safety, Violence In The Workplace, OSHA Citations, Secretary Of Labor

New Administration Former member of the Biden-Harris transition team Douglas L. Parker is the Nominee for Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health, Department of Labor He currently serves as chief of California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA), a position he has held since 2019. Prior to his appointment to Cal/OSHA, Parker was executive director of Worksafe, an Oakland, California-based legal services provider. Workplace safety enforcement will be more aggressive and robust under an OSHA governed by the Biden administration, and Parker will be tasked with overseeing those enforcement efforts. Employers should prepare for these more aggressive policies by ensuring that their safety and health programs are compliant with rules that are still in place and govern American workplaces. Employers should work to identify and eliminate workplace safety hazards. The new administration has made it clear they intend to double the number of OSHA investigators to enforce the law and existing standards and guidelines. “It will likely take around 18 months for new inspectors to be trained and begin conducting inspections. Once those new compliance officers are in the field, employers can expect more OSHA inspectors knocking on their doors.”1 Secretary of Labor Sworn In Marty J. Walsh was sworn in as the nation’s 29th Secretary of Labor on March 23, and immediately shared a public message about his commitment to America’s w

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