“The employers can use it however they would like to,” Morrison said. “We, of course, are encouraging employers to use that money to invest in their employees; to invest in safety; maybe take some opportunities to put in new equipment: guardrails, those sorts of things.”
The agency sets workers’ comp premiums assuming a 4.5 percent return on its investments, but over the last several years funds yielded 7 percent, Morrison said.
“So we are in a good position that we can return this money to Ohio employers,” Morrison said.
There is no registration or application process for employers. Checks are being mailed automatically, she said. The first rebates went out last week and a staggered mailing schedule should have nearly 180,000 checks all to their destinations by early August.
Stephanie Precht, Dayton Chamber of Commerce’s director of public policy and economic development, said the BWC’s commitment to returning millions to employers drives down business costs and benefits Ohio workers.
“The return of these critical funds allows the Dayton area business community to invest more money back into their local operations and perhaps even more importantly into the local workforce,” she said.
The rebate sum equals roughly two-thirds of an employer’s premium for the 2015 policy year, according to BWC.
“We charge worker’s compensation to individual accounts whether that be the general fund or the street fund depending on people’s wages, and then we put that money back into those accounts,” said Mark Beckdahl, finance director for the city of Springfield. “It’s a nice return of money for expenses that we had previously.”
Though the rebate figure for each private employer is not public information, Ohio private employers will receive about 88 percent of all rebate dollars. The largest private employer refund in Montgomery County is $3.1 million and $526,641 in Butler County.
The largest rebate to an area public employer — about $1.3 million — will go to the city of Dayton. Dayton Public Schools was also high on the list, receiving more than $961,000. This year’s is the third $1 billion rebate since 2013.
Schwartz said maintaining a good safety record promotes not only future rebates from BWC but also better insurance rates from any type of provider.
He said Lion’s rebate is already earmarked for safety initiatives and equipment that could range from ergonomic studies to training to building new equipment that lessens repetitive stress on employees.
“We see that safety is good business. It’s good for our employees and we know it’s good for all our stakeholders when we have a good safety record,” he said.