About Workers’ Compensation (WC)

The employees’ safety and well being on the job are important to the employers. However, accidents and illnesses can arise from work and when they do, the employees are covered under the WC law. The Hawaii WC law was enacted in 1915, and its purpose was to provide wage loss compensation and medical care to those employees who suffer a work-related injury. The WC law in essence requires the employer to provide certain benefits without regard to the fault of the employer and prohibits an employee from filing civil action against the employer for work-related injuries or illnesses. Any employer, other than those excluded (section 386-1), having one or more employees, full-time or part-time, permanent or temporary, is required to provide WC coverage for its employees.

The statutory “presumption” places on the employer the burden of producing substantial evidence to the contrary to rebut a claim for a covered work injury.

In the event of a work injury, you should immediately report the injury to your supervisor/employer. Your employer should then file an “Employer’s Report of Industrial Injury” (WC-1) to this Division within 7 working days. The employer can also file the report if the employer believes the injury is not work-related.

Because of the potential costs of a WC claim, most employers purchase insurance from insurance carriers authorized to transact WC in Hawaii. The employer is prohibited from requiring the employee to contribute towards the WC insurance premiums. The alternative would be for the employer to become self-insured and pay statutory benefits directly to the injured employee. Self-insured employers must furnish proof of financial solvency and ability to pay benefits and must be approved by the director.

Each employer shall post and maintain in places readily accessible to employees a printed statement concerning benefit rights, claims for benefits, and such other matters relating to the administration of the workers’ compensation law. Each employer shall furnish within three working days of notice of injury to each injured employee a copy of the brochure, Highlights of the Hawaii Workers’ Compensation Law.

Benefits for injured employees include the following:

      • Medical benefits-all medical treatment which includes surgical and hospital services and supplies related to the injury. The injured employee is entitled to choose the treating physician.
      • Temporary total disability benefits-wage loss benefits paid as long as certified disabled from work by a treating physician.
      • Permanent partial disability benefits-payments due an employee when an injury results in a percentage loss of use of specified portions or functions of the body.
      • Permanent total disability benefits-payments due an employee if the injured employee cannot return to work because of the injury.
      • Disfigurement-payments due an employee for scars as a result of laceration or surgery, can include deformity and discoloration.
      • Death-payments due to a surviving spouse and dependent children in work-related death cases.
      • Vocational rehabilitation-if unable to return to usual occupation, injured employee may receive career counseling, testing, training, and job placement.

Most injuries involving only medical benefits and temporary total disability benefits close upon final payment by the employer.

If there are any issues which cannot be resolved or if a claim is denied, either party may request a hearing. A hearing will be held and a hearings officer will render a decision within 60 days after the hearing. If either party disagrees with the decision, either party may appeal by filing a notice of appeal with the department within 20 calendar days from the date stamped on the decision.

If an employer does not have a WC coverage for its employees, the injured employee may contact the Investigation Section in Honolulu or the closest neighbor-island Department of Labor and Industrial Relations District Office for assistance.