The Results of Workers Compensation Reform

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Though the results of the 2011 workers’ compensation reform efforts in Illinois are now being realized, there is still much debate between lawmakers regarding the workers’ compensation laws, many of whom are pushing for additional reform. When the system is broken, both workers and businesses feel the sting.

The Latest Reforms

Workers compensation laws have been in place in Illinois for over 100 years. Benefits are provided to employees who are injured or diseased because of their work. Change to the way the system works in Illinois is currently a hot topic for state lawmakers. Reforms that passed in 2011 resulted in a large decrease in insurance rates for employers. While this is certainly a positive for businesses, the cost still remains higher than many states. This has many concerned that businesses will shy away from opening or expanding their operations in the state. The Governor has tied proposed workers’ compensation reforms to the budget process, which has some worried.

Is Further Reform Needed?

Advocates for reform argue that weak laws are a danger to both employees and businesses. When an employee is injured on-the-job, the individual may be entitled to workers compensation benefits. If benefits are denied, that individual then has the right to consult with a workers compensation attorney and to appeal the decision.

While this extra step is necessary to ensuring that workers needs are covered, it can lead to extra resources being devoted to these efforts, thus increasing overall costs. When resources can be devoted to other areas, more training and safety programs can be developed, so employers can prevent injuries from occurring the first place. Providing clarity regarding workers compensation laws may lead to a more efficient process, for all involved.

Unfortunately, not all proposed reforms are worker-friendly. Some proposed reforms seek to tighten limits on what is considered work-related travel and how causation of a work-related injury is established. While these limits may be beneficial to insurers, the results for employees could be devastating.

Workers compensation attorneys and employee rights advocates across the state of Illinois continue to monitor the situation closely. As more measures are debated, including a reduction of the payment schedule for medical providers and a tie-in to a minimum-wage increase, the situation may continue to heat up before a final resolution is agreed upon.