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I accepted a workers' comp job yesterday. When the worksheet came to me, it had the following note on it:
"REPORTER - Farmers does not pay more for WC. Pay is normal; no per diem."
So I emailed the agency and asked the following:
"Could you explain the pay on this job? I noticed that there was a note to the reporter that Farmers doesn't pay extra for workers' comp."
The response was: "Farmers doesn’t pay for an O&2 on worker’s comp jobs…just an O&1."
Needless to say, I emailed back to take me off the job.
Just as an FYI - especially people outside of CA - the automatic O&2 for the applicant's deposition is per Labor Code in California - 5710 (b) (3)
(b) If the employer or insurance carrier requests a deposition to be taken of an injured employee, or any person claiming benefits as a dependent of an injured employee, the deponent is entitled to receive in addition to all other benefits:
(3) One copy of the transcript of the deposition, without cost.
This is why the rate for comp is normally a higher page rate. It's because you're essentially guaranteed never to see a copy order since the Code requires applicant get one copy of their depo free of charge. The O&2 WCAB rate on an applicant depo usually does not equal, say, an O&1 plus copy (or a standard O&2) you might get for a PI or business depo. (So it's higher but not a full copy higher.) And when you think about it, defense is essentially being forced to buy the extra copy by the Labor Code. So I suspect the auto O&2 rate has been worked out over the years to make it somewhat fair to both defense and the reporters...? AME/PQME/Treating depos are a different situation, I believe - although almost always a minimum transcript.
HOWEVER, it sounds like these folks are not paying the higher comp rate...? Which is not a good sign.
or are they paying the copy rate as specified by Government Code?
which is about 35 cents a page (criminal court California)
Melanie, good for you for turning that job down !!! If all reporters would do as you did, this problem would go away. When reporters work for those cut-rate agencies, they not only hurt themselves, but they also make it hard for the good agencies to compete for clients, and this in turn steers work to the bad agencies, which is something that hurts us all in the long run.
Technically, the applicant's copy is not free. It is given to them at no cost, but it is paid for by the defense. In California, the defense pays for the O&2, and he/she gets the O&1 and the applicant gets a copy. (There are rare exceptions involving depos noticed by the applicant instead of the defense.)
If the agency wants to give away stuff for free, they should do that on their dime and not expect the reporter to give away their work product at no charge.
With some southern cal firms, there is the LA stip to deal with and it can end up being an O&1, but in that case, standard practice in northern cal has been to pay a higher rate so that the reporter is not getting cheated.
All reporters, new and veteran, should know this!!
thanks for explaining.
What's strange is that I heard about this recently too. I took a Farmers work comp for an agency I regularly work for. It was then told I had not billed correctly because Farmers will not pay for the applicant's copy. I found a California Workers' Comp Code Section saying that if it is Defense taking the depo (which Farmers would be) they are supposed to supply the O+1 to the Applicant. So I, too, will not do a Farmers Work Comp again. They're bending the rules.
Good for you. Reporters have to stick together and demand that we get paid what we deserve. If no one accepts jobs for less, then agencies will have a harder and harder time filling those jobs, and eventually they may tell their clients that they have to pay the 0+2 for WC.
As a group we have to be smart and protect our profession and our pay checks.
this is just agency shenanigans - playing fast and loose with our livelihoods!