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Workers’ Compensation Procedures

Coverage

All employees (including student employees) are protected under the provisions of the Workers’ Compensation Law of the State of New Mexico. On-the-job accidents and occupational diseases incurred while working for the university are eligible for coverage. An employee is covered while traveling on official university business. The benefits payable include all medical, surgical, and drug expenses and weekly compensation after the first 7 days of disability. If the period of disability lasts for more than 4 weeks from the date of the accidental injury, compensation benefits will be allowed from the initial date of disability.

Reporting Accidents

All on-the-job accidents or injuries must be reported immediately to the injured employee’s supervisor by completing and submitting the Notice of Accident form whether or not medical care is needed. An Employer’s First Report of Accident Form and a Supervisor’s Accident Investigation Report Form will be completed by the supervisor for injuries whether or not medical is needed. All three forms are to be sent to the Workers’ Comp Coordinator within 24 hours.

Workers’ Compensation Payments and Personnel Procedures

When an employee is injured, the employee is placed on sick leave or leave without pay if the injury is severe enough to cause a loss of work time. Sick leave is not charged for visits to Campus Health Center (CHC), or the day of injury. Leave will be charged for all off-campus doctor visits and/or physical therapy. New Mexico Risk Management will send Worker’s Compensation checks to the Workers’ Compensation Coordinator for disbursement. The employee will retain the compensation check which is 66 2/3 percent of the weekly wage at time of injury. The NMSU paycheck will be reduced by the amount of the Workers’ Compensation check. Leave continues to accrue at the normal rate as long as the employee is out on leave and receiving a paycheck.

The department will reconcile all leave records with the Workers’ Compensation Coordinator. This office will compute leave reduction based on compensation paid. At this time, a decision will be made whether to fill the position on a regular basis.

The university will carry the employee on sick leave or leave without pay during the period the employee is receiving payment from the Workers’ Compensation carrier up to the maximum of 1 year. The employee may choose to use any accumulated annual leave, but is not required to do so. Within the first year, if the employee reaches maximum medical improvement as designated by the Worker’s Compensation carrier and is not re employed, the university will carry the employee on leave without pay for a maximum of 3 months from the date of settlement. The employee may retain insurances by paying the total premiums in accordance with Section 8:14. After one year, or 3 months in the event of reaching maximum medical improvement, the employee will:

1.If physically able, must have been selected for a position for which the employee is qualified and able to perform essential job functions (the department is not required to hold the original position open). 2.Be retired if qualified under the rules of the Educational Retirement Board. 3.Be terminated in accordance with Section 5 of this manual if not qualified under parts 1 & 2 above. In the event of proposed termination, the university will notify Risk Management Division Workers Comp prior to termination.

Every effort shall be made to implement an early return to work program to ensure that sound claims management procedures have been accomplished and that reasonable accommodations and opportunities afforded by applicable legal mandates have been explored, no state employee shall be terminated from employment because of a job-related injury or illness or physical circumstances resulting from a job-related injury or illness unless the state agency has provided advance notice to the state risk management division.  Vacant positions resulting from job related injuries or illnesses shall not be filled, except by temporary employment.

(1)     A position may be permanently filled if there is documented medical diagnosis or evidence that an employee with a job-related injury or illness has reached maximum medical improvement or that the employee’s impairment or condition is permanent and that the employee cannot perform the essential functions of the particular job.

(2)     A position may be permanently filled if there is a critical need and that need cannot be satisfied with temporary employment, and the employer has made a “good faith” effort to do so.

On Campus Accidents

Accidents which occur on campus but are not job related should be reported to the Safety Officer by telephone and confirmed by memorandum to the Purchasing Office. The university carries liability insurance to cover such accidents.

University Safety Officer

Copies of all Employer’s First Report of Accident forms and Supervisor’s Accident Investigation Report forms are sent to the university Safety Officer by the Workers’ Compensation Coordinator. The Safety Officer monitors all accidents and may conduct an investigation. Safety lectures, films, and posters may be requested from the safety officer.

Documentation of Injury

Employees are required to submit medical documentation that they are physically unable to perform the job duties if the injury prevents the employee from working to the Workers’ Compensation Coordinator. The documentation will include all days the employee is not at work. The employee must submit a medical release when able to return to work.

Medical Care for Work-Related Injuries

All employees in the Las Cruces area needing non emergency care during normal working hours will utilize CHC. The CHC physician may refer to other medical providers if appropriate. Medical providers may not refer employees to other providers without prior approval of CHC.

Emergencies and work-related injuries occurring after hours or on weekends will be treated by the nearest emergency room. On the next working day, call Workers’ Compensation Coordinator at 646-7375 for instructions. (Note: Critical emergencies should be sent immediately to the nearest emergency room, then contact CHC.) All follow up care must be approved by CHC.

Employees working outside of the Las Cruces area must call the Workers’ Compensation Coordinator at (575) 646-7375 to report the injury and receive instructions. If the Workers’ Compensation Coordinator is not available, call 1(505) 827-0299. Emergencies and injuries occurring after hours or on weekends will be treated by the nearest emergency room with follow up the next working day with Risk Management or the Workers’ Compensation Coordinator.

Medical services should be obtained according to the above procedures in order to be covered by Workers’ Compensation.

All employees, including student employees, are subject to these procedures. Supervisors are responsible for directing their subordinates to the appropriate medical provider. It is recommended that supervisors accompany the employee to the medical provider whenever possible. These procedures should be posted, per State law. (see Appendices V and W) Notices are available from the Personnel Office.

Re-Employment of Employee Released from Workers’ Compensation

Employees returning to work from a Workers’ Compensation related accident will:

  1. Submit a medical statement to the Workers’ Compensation Coordinator from the attending physician that they are physically able to return to perform the essential job functions of the position.
  2. If physically unable to return to performance of marginal job duties, employee will submit a medical statement to that effect from the attending physician for review by the supervisor, Human Resources Office and EEO/ADA Director. Modified Return To Work forms may also be utilized and can be obtained from the Personnel Office.
  3. Present themselves for work within 1 working day after release from the work related injury.

Workers’ Compensation Coverage for Previously Injured Employees

  1. Employees who return to employment from a Workers’ Compensation injury which left a permanent disability or medical condition may continue to have medical costs covered and continue to be covered under Workers’ Compensation, depending on the decision of the Workers’ Compensation carrier.
  2. The Workers’ Compensation Coordinator will accomplish the administrative action with the New Mexico Risk Management Division in Santa Fe to ensure this injury is recorded on a Certificate of Pre-Existing Physical Impairment.

Open Positions

While an employee is on extended Workers’ Compensation benefits, the hiring department may wish to discuss the position and handling of duties with Human Resources.