What is Kept on Salary?

By Logan Gillihan
ROII Claim Representative
Have you heard your ROII claim representative mention Kept on Salary or KOS before? Well, it’s likely because you’ve had an employee get injured on the job, they have full restrictions, can't work, and are missing time from work. 

When a worker is injured on the job and is restricted from performing their regular job, they are entitled to compensation in one of two ways: either time loss compensation paid by the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries (L&I) or Kept on Salary paid by the employer. 

Keeping a worker on salary means the employer will continue to pay the worker their usual wages and benefits for the days they are not able to go to work due to the injury.

The purpose of paying Kept on Salary while a worker is off work is to prevent L&I from paying time loss benefits until modified duty is formally approved and offered.

Why pay Kept on Salary instead of having L&I pay Time Loss Compensation? 
When time loss compensation is paid by L&I, it changes the way L&I categorizes the claim. L&I will categorize the claim as a compensable claim. Costs on compensable claims are charged back to the employer at a higher amount compared to a claim with no compensable costs.  A compensable claim will also disqualify a company from continuing or receiving a claim-free discount through L&I. 
A time loss payment on a claim also triggers L&I to assume that there may be a return-to-work issue, leading them to assign additional services to the claim, such as a vocational counselor. These additional services will be charged back to the employer, increasing the claim cost and may lead to the claim staying open longer than necessary. 

What can you do to be ahead of the game?
Always reach out to your ROII claim representative when you learn of a new claim and discuss any restrictions for your employee. During this conversation, clarify what days to pay and how much to pay your employee for KOS. These dates and amounts are very claim-specific. 

Communicate your plan to your injured employee that you will pay them while they are off work due to their injury and your intention to bring them safely back to work on modified duty as soon as possible. This will allow your employee to understand your goals up front and have a mutual understanding of KOS being temporary, with an end goal of getting back to work as soon as possible.

If you haven’t already, check out the blog article from June 1, 2023, “Why Should I Accommodate Temporary Light Duty." This provides a lot of insight into the financial advantages of preventing L&I from paying time loss.

As an ROII program participant do I have to offer Kept on Salary? Yes, Kept on Salary is required of all ROII participants on all workplace injury claims where there are full restrictions and can't work. 

How long am I required to offer Kept on Salary?
Members are required to provide Kept on Salary for up to 30 workdays on a claim. You will never be required to pay beyond the 30 working days, and it is our goal to have the worker return to work in a modified duty role before the 30 working days are reached. 

My employee’s hours and wages vary. How do I determine their usual wage? Always reach out to your ROII claim representative so they can help determine when and how much you are obligated to pay. We do not want you to waste your time and money! 

Does this mean you have to pay them as a salaried employee instead of hourly? No, it is only a term that’s utilized by L&I. You would pay them their normal wages. 

My employee only missed the day he was injured. Do I have to pay them for the date of injury? No, workers are never entitled to KOS or time loss benefits on the date of injury. 

Am I required to continue their healthcare benefits while they are being paid KOS? Yes, you are required to continue your portion of the healthcare benefits (medical, dental, and/or vision insurance) while they are being paid KOS. If stopped, your employee would be entitled to benefits from L&I.

My employee received an annual Christmas bonus. Should I include that in their normal KOS? No, you do not include this in their average wages. If they receive bonuses monthly, quarterly, etc. speak with your ROII claim representative.

With everything there are outliers, so please reach out to your ROII claim representative for advice on how to navigate your current situation.

Below is an illustration of how KOS is the first step to getting your injured worker back to work. 

Related Posts

Have you ever wondered why you should accommodate temporary light duty?

While it may seem counterintuitive to spend money to have a worker do minimal modified duty work, it actually saves money long term. There are many benefits when accommodating temporary light duty and we've outlined a few.

What do you do if a former employee who hasn't been with your company for months because they walked off a jobsite and quit submits an injury claim? What if you have an ironclad safety program and have documentation proving that they knew how to run a machine and file a report of accident claiming they were injured on that machine? What if you also had multiple witnesses who stated the former employee told them the injury didn't actually happen on the job? You might think this scenario would be plenty of information for Labor and Industries (L&I) to reject this claim, but unfortunately, you would be wrong. You'd be surprised how hard it is to fight the allowance of bogus claims like this one and how hard it is to navigate the L&I system in general.