It's important to know that not all injuries and illnesses that happen at work are covered under workers' compensation. Each incident report is evaluated to determine whether workers' compensation can be provided to an injured employee or whether other forms of income replacement and/or health insurance are more appropriate. This evaluation is completed by one of the staff members within the Workers' Compensation Office who is available to answer your questions regarding an eligibility determination for your employee. The information below is applicable when the injury is one that is covered under workers' compensation.

How will my staff member be paid while out of work?

The first seven calendar days are a "waiting period" and are not paid by workers' compensation. After your staff member is out of work for more than seven calendar days, the Workers' Compensation Office will provide a weekly payment directly to him or her. You do not need to code this payment on your staff member's timecard; it will be calculated by the Workers' Compensation Office. If your staff member is out of work for more than 21 days, Workers’ Compensation will retroactively pay the staff member for the waiting period.  (See below regarding the use of benefit time during the waiting period.)

The weekly workers’ compensation wage replacement benefit is generally charged to the Workers' Compensation Claims Budget. The workers’ compensation benefit is non-taxable and is equal to 2/3 of your staff member's average weekly wage up to the annual maximum weekly benefit applicable on the date of injury ($920 per week in 2015).

No deductions are taken from this weekly check, so it is important to remind your staff member to continue to make any voluntary deductions (e.g., health or dental insurance) directly to Accounting Services so that their participation in these plans continue. Your staff member should submit premiums to Benefits Accounting, Box 90484, Durham, NC 27708.  Your premium amounts can be found on your last paycheck advice via Duke@Work.

If your staff member selected direct deposit for their regular paycheck, the weekly workers' compensation check will be direct deposited into the same account. If your staff member selected to receive a "live" check, a live check will be mailed to your staff member's home address each week based upon the address in SAP/R3.

Can my staff member use benefit time?

Yes, your staff member can use accrued benefit time during the first seven calendar days of missed work. If your staff member is unable to work for more than 21 calendar days, the waiting period is waived and your employee will be eligible for workers' compensation from the first day of work that he or she missed. At that time, your employee will be given a choice of having the hourly equivalent of the workers’ compensation benefit amount restored to their benefit time bank or paid out. The Workers' Compensation Office will contact your employee to confirm the selection and put through the necessary paperwork to complete this process.

Also, employees who qualify for the maximum weekly workers' compensation rate ($1,254 per week in 2023) may supplement their workers' compensation benefit using their accrued benefit time.  The employee may use enough benefit time to reach 2/3 of their pre-injury average weekly wage.  For example, if your staff member usually has a gross weekly wage of $2,000, two-thirds of the wage would be $1,333.40, but the staff member would only receive $1,254 in workers' compensation wage replacement.  The staff member may draw up to $79.40 per week from accrued benefit time (the difference between $1,333.40 and $1,254) in addition to the workers' compensation benefit of $1,254 per week. You must code the use of benefit time on your staff member's timecard. The Workers' Compensation Office is available to help you with this calculation.  Talk to the assigned claims specialist before authorizing supplemental benefit time.

How long can my staff member receive workers' compensation?

Generally, injured employees receive wage-replacement benefits until they are able to return to work. A 500-week statutory limitation or other limitations may apply in some cases.

Who lets my staff member know this weekly payment process?

Staff within the Workers' Compensation Office are responsible for determining whether employee injuries can be covered under workers' compensation and administering many aspects of this process. These staff members regularly communicate with your employee about their weekly wage amount (or their attorney if your employee has chosen to be represented by legal counsel). But, it is very important that you also remain connected with your staff member while he or she is out of work. Please let us know if your employee expresses concern regarding any aspect of the process so that the issue can be addressed.

The Workers' Compensation Office is located at 705 Broad Street, Durham NC, 27705 and the staff contact information is as follows:

Workers' Compensation
Charles Kyles,
Zelda Clark, Business
Landon Day, Staff
Nacole Britt, Administrative
Shauna Pettiford, Claims Payment
Javon Beatty, Performance & Quality
LaToya Outlaw, Unemployment
Denise Johnson, Associate Director,
Laurie D'Angelo, Claims Specialist,
Debbie Feggins, Claims Specialist,
Tammy Dodson, Claims Specialist,
April Woods, Claims

Who keeps me posted regarding when my staff member can return to work?

Staff in the Employee Occupational Health and Wellness (EOHW) office are responsible for providing medical treatment to your employee and keeping you informed about where your staff member is in the healing process, their anticipated date of return, and any job restrictions and their duration. This communication to you is via a form known as the Health Recommendation Form (HRF). EOHW will mail you this form after each visit. You can also contact EOHW for up-to-date information regarding your employee's medical status at 681-0502. Managers of staff at DRH should contact DRH Employee Health at 470-5350 for up-to-date information regarding their staff members' medical conditions.

Managers that take the lead role in maintaining direct contact with their staff member about where they are in the healing process and communicating the continued need for that staff member back in the department have the most current information and find their staff return back to full duty more quickly. You are strongly encouraged to establish a weekly follow up day/time to call your staff member and speak with him or her directly about their medical progress.

What is a "charge back"?

A charge back is the reversing of the weekly workers' compensation payment made to your staff member from the workers' compensation budget to your budget. It occurs when a department does not take back their employee that has been released to return to work (with or without restrictions) or when an incident report is filed more than 24-hours after the incident occurred and the injury results in the employee being unable to work.

These policy provisions became effective July 1, 2004 as a mechanism to rein in dramatically increasing workers' compensation costs. The reasoning behind the provision and why it has been so effective is that the quicker an employee can safely return to their job, even with restrictions, the quicker he or she will fully heal. Also the sooner an accident is reported, the better the opportunities are to investigate, assure the individual receives appropriate medical care, and the department can take action to prevent others from being injured.

How long should I hold my employee's job?

Generally, FMLA runs concurrent with the first missed day of work due to the on-the-job injury. FMLA requires that you hold the job for your "eligible employees" for at least twelve weeks. Eligible employee here means one that meets the FMLA requirements (e.g. one year of service at Duke and 1,250 hours worked in the prior 12-months). You may choose to fill the position after the twelve week period; however, you will be financially responsible for the "charge back" of your staff member's wage replacement if a suitable, alternative job is not available for your staff member when they are released to return to work.

For more information about FMLA, please see the Leave of Absences web site.

If I fill their job, what happens to my staff member's benefits?

When your employee was unable to work, the Workers' Compensation Office put through the forms to move your staff member to a leave status. This leave status, called a "Workers' Compensation Leave" or "W Code" preserves many of the benefits in which your staff member was participating. Please see the Benefits Checklist for further information about how a Workers Compensation absence can affect your employee's benefits.

So my employee isn't terminated from Duke if I fill their position?

Generally, employees unable to work due to an on-the-job injury continue to be Duke employees.

My employee will be out a very long time and I am no longer able to hold their job. How do I fill their position?

You will want to talk with the budget area that handles your department's position management to ensure they understand your staff member is on a workers' compensation leave and is not anticipated to return in the near future. You will likely need to obtain this budgetary approval as your salary budget may appear to be over by an FTE as your staff member on leave will continue to appear within your cost center (i.e. your budget may appear to be over allocated). After obtaining budgetary approval, contact your Recruiter in HR to guide you through the usual job posting and recruitment process.

Should I tell my staff member that I have to fill their job?

Yes. However, this will likely be a very difficult conversation between you and your employee and it may also be one which profoundly impacts the speed at which your staff member completes the healing process and returns back to work. Please contact Staff & Labor Relations and/or the Personal Assistance Service (PAS) if you have any concerns on how to facilitate this important discussion. Also, your continued contact with your staff member continues to be important - - this contact between supervisor and injured staff member has been linked to many positives in speeding the recovery of injured workers. Lastly, remember that you will continue to be financially responsible for your staff member's wage replacement when they are ultimately released to return to work, until they are placed in a suitable position.