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Publication #FE423

2017 Handbook of Employment Regulations Affecting Florida Farm Employers and Workers: Workers' Compensation [State]1

Fritz Roka, Michael Olexa, Carol Fountain, and Jessica Fernandez2

Purpose

To assure quick, efficient delivery of disability and medical benefits to injured workers and to facilitate workers' return to gainful re-employment at a reasonable cost to employers (Florida Workers’ Compensation System Guide, https://www.myfloridacfo.com/division/wc/pdf/WC-System-Guide.pdf).

Covered Employers

All agricultural employers who employ five or more regular employees or employ twelve or more seasonal employees for more than thirty days.

Covered Employers Must

Purchase Workers' Compensation insurance by any one of four options:

  1. Standard policy on open market

  2. Individual self insurance

  3. Group self insurance

  4. Joint underwriting plan of the Florida Department of Financial Services

Cost of Insurance

This varies depending on employment activity and experience rating of each employer. Florida Department of Financial Services approves all Workers' Compensation premium rates for each employment activity and job classification. Premium rates are defined as percentages of payroll.

Posting Requirement

The Broken Arm Poster and the Anti-Fraud Notice should be posted in a conspicuous place, identifying the name of the insurance company providing coverage and where to call to report an accident or injury. Employers should contact the insurance company to obtain the poster and notice. Employers who are not required to provide Workers' Compensation nor have coverage must post clearly written notice in a conspicuous location at each work site.

Reporting Any Injury

  • Employers, on receiving notice that an employee has been injured, must complete and file a Notice of Injury or Illness Form (Form DFS-F2-DWC-1) with the insurance carrier.

  • The Notice of Injury or Illness Form must be in the carrier's hands within seven days from the date that the employer has actual knowledge of the accident or injury. A copy of the form shall also be sent to the Florida Division of Workers' Compensation.

  • The insurance carrier or self-insured employer must mail Form DFS-F2-DWC-1 to the Division of Workers' Compensation in Tallahassee within thirty days of receipt.

  • If injury results in death, the employer must give a special notice within twenty-four hours by calling toll-free 1-800-219-8953. Employer may also fax or email notification (850-413-1979 or DFSFatalityreport@myfloridacfo.com). This special notice is not required if the death occurs after the accident has been reported.

  • For assistance, call the Workers’ Compensation Helpline toll-free at 1-800-342-1741.

Benefits Schedule

  • Total number of weeks an injured worker can receive benefits (excluding permanent total) is 401 weeks from date of accident.

  • Temporary total and temporary partial disability benefits are limited to 104 weeks combined.

  • Impairment benefits and supplemental benefits replace wage loss benefits (for accidents after January 1, 1994).

  • If a work-related death occurs within one year of the date of accident or five years of continuous disability, the following benefits may be due and payable up to a maximum total of $150,000: (1) funeral expenses up to $7,500, (2) compensation to dependents as defined by law, and (3) educational benefits to the surviving spouse.

Incentives for Return to Work

  • Managed care defined as total management of the health of the injured.

  • Managed care arrangements mandatory for all employers after January 1, 1997.

  • Insurer/carrier must submit managed care arrangements to Agency for Health Care Administration for approval of plan.

  • Premium rate discounts of up to ten percent can be authorized by the Florida Department of Financial Services.

Permanent Total Disability Awards

  • To be defined permanent total, the injury must be catastrophic in nature.

  • Employers/carriers have the right to conduct vocational evaluations or testing of workers who are permanent total once every calendar year and must give employees a seven-day notice.

Fraud Discouraged

  • By more clearly defining fraudulent activities

  • By increasing penalties for illegal activities

  • By establishing the Bureau of Workers' Compensation Hotline at 1(800) 378-0445

Promoting Workplace Safety

The Florida Occupational Safety and Health Act contains a provision for a discount in Workers' Compensation premiums for employers who adopt and implement an approved workplace safety program.

Elements of Acceptable Workplace Safety Program

  • Management commitment and involvement

  • Safety committee

  • Safety and health training

  • First aid procedures

  • Accident investigations

  • Recordkeeping procedures

  • Safety rules and policies

Premium Discount for Workplace Safety Program

Employers who implement safety program approved by the Division of Safety are eligible for premium credits of up to twenty-seven percent.

Protecting Rights of Employees to Benefits

  • Bureau of Employee Assistance and Ombudsman (E.A.O.) Office was created to assist injured workers.

  • All disputed issues must go through E.A.O. process before any formal litigation.

  • E.A.O. has thirty days after receiving request for assistance to resolve disputes.

  • If dispute is resolved at E.A.O. level, no claimant attorney fees are allowed by state statute.

  • If dispute is not resolved, E.A.O. will assist unrepresented worker in completing the formal Petition of Benefits.

Drug-Free Workplace Program

  • The purpose of this program is to avoid work-related accidents resulting from drug abuse by employees.

  • The Florida Administrative Code for Drug-Free Workplace Standards, as adopted by the Agency for Health Care Administration, shall be utilized for all drug testing pursuant to the Florida Workers' Compensation program.

  • Insurance premium discounts of up to five percent are possible for employers having acceptable drug-free workplace programs.

Enforcement

  • Florida Division of Workers' Compensation (Division) can issue Stop Work orders on employers who are required to have coverage and fail to do so.

  • The Division will assess a penalty equal to 1.5 times the amount the employer would have paid in premiums within the preceding three-year period.

  • The Division has an online Penalty Payment Service for employers who have been issued a Stop-Work or Order of Penalty Assessment. This free service allows employers to pay the penalty in full or pay the monthly installments required in the periodic payment plan (http://www.myfloridacfo.com/division/wc/penalty_pay.htm).

Additional Information

  • Chapter 440, Florida Statutes

  • Division of Workers' Compensation, toll-free at 1-800-742-2214

  • Florida Department of Financial Services, Division of Workers' Compensation

  • Bureau of Compliance, Florida Department of Financial Services, Division of Workers' Compensation

Responsible Agency

Florida Department of Financial Services
Division of Workers' Compensation
200 East Gaines Street
Tallahassee, FL 32399
(850) 413-1609
Toll-free 1-800-742-2214
Injured Worker Helpline – Toll-free 1-800-342-1741
http://www.myfloridacfo.com/division/wc/
For local offices, see the telephone directory under
  • Florida, State of

  • Financial Services, Department of

  • Workers' Compensation, Division of

Or search for local offices online: http://www.myfloridacfo.com/FieldOfficeMap.htm

Footnotes

1.

This is EDIS document FE423, a publication of the Department of Food and Resource Economics, UF/IFAS Extension. Published 2003, revised 2009 and 2017. This handbook is produced and distributed by the UF/IFAS Center for Agricultural and Natural Resource Law. Originally published by Leo Polopolus. Visit the EDIS website at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu.

2.

Fritz Roka, associate professor, Food and Resource Economics Department, UF/IFAS Extension, Southwest Florida Research and Education Center, Immokalee, FL. Michael Olexa, professor, Food and Resource Economics Department, and director, Center for Agricultural and Natural Resource Law UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL. Carol Fountain, editor, Food and Resource Economics Department, UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL. Jessica Fernandez, graduate student, Levin College of Law, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL.

This document is designed to provide accurate, current, and authoritative information on the subject. However, since the laws, administrative rulings, and court decisions on which it is based are subject to constant revision, portions of this publication could become outdated at any time. This publication is distributed with the understanding that the authors are not engaged in rendering legal or other professional advice, and the information contained herein should not be regarded as a substitute for professional advice. For these reasons, the utilization of these materials by any person constitutes an agreement to hold harmless the authors, the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, and the University of Florida for any liability claims, damages, or expenses that may be incurred by any person as a result of reference to or reliance on the information contained in this publication.


The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.