Nation's Largest Retailer Agrees to Faster Payment of Comp Claims

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. agrees to speed up payment of workers' compensation claims in Washington state in an effort to avoid state takeover of its workers' compensation insurance program.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. agreed to speed up payment of workers'' compensation claims in Washington state in an effort to avoid state takeover of its workers'' compensation insurance program. The state alleged in November 2000 that Wal-Mart was illegally denying payments to injured employees.

Under an agreement announced yesterday, Wal-Mart will hire an outside company to administer its workers'' compensation program for eight years. Wal-Mart employees approximately 9,600 workers in Washington.

"Wal-Mart has said that it wants to create a model workers compensation program here. This agreement allows that to happen,'''' said Gary Moore, director of the state Department of Labor and Industries. As part of the settlement, the company agreed to process workers'' compensation claims more quickly than other large companies and will promptly pay state-ordered awards to injured employees, even if it is appealing the decision.

A spokesman for Wal-Mart said the company was pleased with the settlement, because it allows the company to remain self-insured. Wal-Mart is one of about 400 companies in Washington that are large enough to manage their own workers'' compensation programs.

by Sandy Smith ([email protected])

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