Electric vehicle and solar panel manufacturer Tesla, Inc. is one of Northern California’s largest employers with a workforce of 45,000 employees. It is not difficult to imagine that within the company’s many production and assembly areas, Tesla’s factory workers sometimes suffer on-the-job injuries. According to Reveal by The Center for Investigative Reporting, employees who suffer injuries while working at Tesla are treated by a physician at the company’s own on-site factory clinic.
Allegedly, corporations use onsite medical clinics, or health-and-wellness centers, to help ensure that injured employees obtain the necessary medical treatment, but do not apply for workers’ compensation benefits. California law, however, requires employers to provide its harmed employees with official paperwork to apply for workers’ compensation and to document their injuries.
Reportedly, Tesla uses an onsite clinic to systematically keep a full accounting of its employees’ injuries off their books. The benefit gained is an artificial safety record, which may also be a violation of laws requiring employers to document all workplace injuries. Another advantage gained from providing onsite medical treatment is that it might help to dissuade employees from filing a workers’ comp claim. This can benefit a company because filed claims may increase an employer’s insurance premiums.
Employees accidentally harmed while carrying out their normal responsibilities are entitled to apply for workers’ compensation benefits. In cases in which the injuries are severe, filing a claim may be the only way in which an employee’s medical expenses, rehabilitation and lost wages can be covered.
According to the National Association of Worksite Health Centers, 33% of U.S. employers with more than 5,000 employees are using onsite medical clinics. A company that intentionally creates internal policies to divert an employee’s attempt to apply for workers’ compensation may find itself facing legal action for workplace violations.