Curtailing the Somethin’ for Nothin’ Attitude

Nothing is free. There is no free lunch. Someone is paying for it; it just might not be you. There are employees (and people in general) who have an entitlement mentality that has been fostered by politicians and society in general. These people feel they are “owed” something, even if they have not done anything to earn it. This is what my doctor says she sees in her medical practice when I reveal I work "in the workers compensation field." She goes on to explain that daily people sit across the desk and ask to be put on total disability. She was quite upset by this since she has been working hard for the last 25 years. She welcomes the opportunity to vent about her own experiences.  She says, "We're a somethin' for nothin' society." 
Unfortunately, way too many employees have no idea of the cost of workers compensation. Employees often think workers compensation insurance is free, as they do not pay anything for the insurance coverage. While they may vaguely know the employer is paying for the coverage, they do not know the true cost of work comp. (WCxKit)
Many an unsophisticated employee will think the employers cost is the hourly rate they receive. The wise employer will educate the employees on their true cost. The employee should know that in addition to their hourly rate, the employer is paying 35% to 40% over the hourly rate to cover the cost of workers compensation, social security, unemployment insurance, medical insurance, dental insurance, life insurance and disability insurance. This is all before the cost of vacations, holidays and sick pay is added to the equation. In addition to all these employer cost, the employer is contributing to a 401k, 403b, or other retirement plans. Plus, there are a few employers who still have defined benefit pension plans where they are funding the employee's retirement.
When an employee, who has the entitlement mentality, is injured on the job, their claim often becomes a much more expensive claim than it should be.  As employees pay nothing for workers compensation (one of the very few things in work comp that is the same across all the states), those employees that have the entitlement mentality of something for nothing will often look for the opportunity to abuse the work comp claim system. My doctor says that she "has one employee in particular" who is looking for another job, and she can't wait for her to leave because she is unproductive, but the doctor is afraid to fire her or she'll get sued. What does this say about our society….
While some of the employees with the something for nothing attitude will fake an injury, many of the injury claims start out as legitimate claims. When the employee gets comfortable living on the indemnity benefits paid by the work comp insurer, they decide they do not want to go back to work. They see the TV lawyer advertising the fist full of money they can get for their work comp claim. Or, they hear about a friend of a friend who is living a life of ease and will never have to work again due to their work comp injury. While they may not think of it as fraud, they will do anything they can to delay their return to work. This can include everything from exaggerating their pain to the doctor to exaggerating the physical demands of their job when they discuss returning to work with their doctor. My doctor says she never gives total disability slips, but she needs information on these employees original job so she knows they can, in fact, safety return to work.
The 'something for nothing' employees paid time off work can often be curtailed or even eliminated by an aggressive return to work program offering modified duty. By getting this worker back on the job before he can settle into the life-without-working routine, the employer can save a lot of workers' compensation cost.
While the employer can often identify the employees who have the something for nothing mentality, there are the employees who never thought of abusing the system until they are off work due to an on-the-job injury. They don't start out faking disability, but do so when neither the employer nor the claims adjuster stays in contact with them. As long as it easy to stay off work, they do. When they start feeling the pressure to return to work by the employer inquiring when they will be back, they end their something for nothing extended time off work.
An experienced work comp adjuster or a knowledgeable claims coordinator with the employer will immediately recognize the “red flag” of the injured employee who states “I don't want something for nothing”. Usually when an employee states this to the work comp adjuster or the employer, it is because they have already been thinking about getting something for nothing. Employers (and work comp claim adjusters, too) need to be exceptionally diligent with the injury claims from employees with the entitlement mentality. (WCxKit)
One of the best ways to combat the entitlement mentality of the something for nothing employee is to educate all employees on the cost of workers' compensation. Employees need to know that the employer takes work comp fraud very seriously and will prosecute any employee who commits fraud. All employees should know that the cost of workers compensation insurance has to be paid for by the employer, and the higher the claim cost, the more the employer pays. When all employees understand that anyone who fakes a claim or stays off work longer than necessary is stealing a part of the pay raises and/or bonuses of their co-workers, the something for nothing mentality can be curtailed.

Author Rebecca Shafer, JD, President of Amaxx Risks Solutions, Inc. is a national expert in the field of workers compensation. She is a writer, speaker and website publisher. Her expertise is working with employers to reduce workers compensation costs, and her clients include airlines, healthcare, printing/publishing, pharmaceuticals, retail, hospitality and manufacturing. Contact: .


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Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker or agent about workers comp issues.

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