Retail Chain Stores

Workers’ Compensation for the Retail Chain Store Industry

Workers’ compensation insurance coverage for retail chain stores — drug store chains, auto part store chains, “big box” retailers and small box chain retailers — cost significantly less than work comp coverage does in general.

  • Coverage is readily available from most of the work comp insurance carriers.
  • Larger chain stores will have their own self-insurance program

By their very nature, retail chain stores have a wide geographical spread. Retail chain stores are for the most part are located in cities but some of the small box chain retailers specialize in small town locations.

The workforce of retail chain stores will consist of:

  • Sales clerks
  • Cashiers
  • Management
  • Janitorial staff, and depending on the size of the store

Management level personnel will often be college graduates but will also consist of long-term employees who have worked their way up the management chain.

  • For the most part, the sales clerk, cashiers and janitorial staff will have a high school level education.
  • Merchandise is delivered to stores regularly and the delivery trucks sometimes are unloaded by store personnel, regardless of their age or physical condition.

Stores with pharmacies can include them in the TPA’s list of approved providers, then require their employees to purchase medication and medical devices at their store, adding to the pharmacy’s bottom line.

Most retailers have return to work programs across some or all of the operations, however, the return to work ratios are still inconsistent with less than 95% of employees returning to working in the first few days after the injury.

  • The workforce is constantly changing, due to low pay levels for sales clerks, cashiers and janitorial workers.
  • Most of the employees have only a limited understanding of workers’ compensation insurance, and limited or little loyalty to the employer.
  • Retail stores have a wide variety of tasks that can provide transitional work to injured employees.
  • Some stores use cross-divisional placements where if one chain does not have a transitional duty program, employees will be placed at another chain in the same corporation nearby often at no charge to the receiving store.

Retail store chains will have an in-depth safety program.

  • The large box retailers will sometimes have a member of store management designated as safety officer or safety manager.
  • There are few safety issues at most retail chain stores as they are designed with the safety of the general public in mind.
  • Some retail chains often experience higher than normal customer accidents.

The cost of work comp insurance is low for retail chain stores because both the frequency of injury and the severity of injury is low.

  • When injuries do occur, medical care is available because the geographical placement of the stores in towns and cities.
  • The selection of the medical provider by the employer or the employee will be determined by state statute with the employer posting the approved work comp doctor(s) in the states where the employers select the medical provider.

The overall cost of indemnity benefits is low for retail store chains reflecting the low severity of most accidents in the stores.

  • The primary causes of injury, back strains and slips and falls.
  • These types of injuries normally will not result in significant permanent partial disability payments.
  • Occupational illnesses are very rare for retail chain store employees.

Retail stores that are not a part of retail chain will have the same or similar work comp issues. This would include:

  • Convenience stores without gas pumps
  • Convenience stores with gas pumps (with a higher work comp rate)
  • Hardware stores
  • Sporting good stores
  • Florist
  • Supermarkets
  • Furniture stores
  • Appliance stores
  • Clothing stores
  • Department stores

Transitional / Modified Duties in Retail Stores

Accommodation of an employee with restrictions in the Retail industry is generally easily accomplished. Many jobs in this industry are light in nature and there is usually a lot of flexibility where tasks and hours are concerned. A few examples include:

Stock Clerk: Allow “straightening up” of the store by folding and replacing clothes from fitting rooms if restricted from heavy lifting.
Inventory: Allow an employee required to sit / stand as needed to re-price merchandise, take inventory or complete paperwork.
Sales Clerk: Allow an employee limited to sedentary duty to re-price merchandise or complete paperwork (ordering, inventory etc.)
Greeter: Greet customers as they enter and leave. Take bags as customers enter and transfer to customer service desk for safe-keeping.


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