Ridge & Downes - Law Firm

Anti-worker Legislation introduced in 99th General Assembly

by Ridge & Downes | Mar 17, 2015

Notoriously anti-worker (and anti-workers’ compensation) legislators have introduced proposed legislation with the goal of radically altering the Workers’ Compensation Act. Rep. Dwight Kay (R-112) and Senator Kyle McCarter (R-54) each offered similar legislation in February designed to limit the rights of workers injured on the job. The most damaging are discussed below. Follow the link to read the actual legislation.

SB 0770/HB 2418 – Attacks the Causation Standard and Limits Rights of Traveling Employees

Requires that an accident be the “major contributing cause” and “more than 50% responsible” for the injury AND excludes accidents if the hazard or risk the employee was exposed to is one that the employee would have been exposed to outside the employment.

A traveling employee must be “actively engaged in the duties of employment” to recover benefits if injured.

What would happen if this legislation became law?

The majority of accidents where an employee aggravates a pre-existing condition would no longer be covered by the WC Act. An employee who has a pre-existing condition that is aggravated by a work accident would no longer receive medical treatment for that injury and would not be paid if they had to miss work because of that injury.

Any injury that could have occurred outside of work would no longer be covered under the WC Act if a similar injury could happen outside of work. For example, an employee who slipped on oil and fell or an employee involved in a motor vehicle accident would not receive any benefits because the same type of accident could happen outside of work.

If an employee is required to travel for work the WC Act would apply only at times when that employee was specifically performing a job related task. For example, if the employer sends an employee from factory A to factory B to work fixing a machine and that employee is hit by a fork lift while walking to get a drink of water that employee would not be entitled to WC benefits. That employee would only be able to receive benefits if injured while fixing the machine.

HB 2419/SB 0769 – Changes the Computation of Average Weekly Wage

Allows an employer to consider even an hour worked in a week as a full work week and eliminates wages earned in a 2nd job to be considered in the calculation of the average weekly wage.

What would happen if this legislation becomes law?

Average weekly wage (the calculation that determines weekly and permanent benefits) would be diminished. Also, a worker works more than one job, such as a firefighter or a person who works multiple part time jobs, would only be able to receive benefits based on the wages earned in the job where the injury occurred even if the injury prevented that worker from working the second job.

HB 2420/SB 0771 – No TTD Benefits if “Discharged for Cause”

Allows an employer to stop paying TTD (weekly) benefits to an injured employee if that employer decides to fire the injured employee “for cause.”

What would happen if this legislation became law?

If an employer can find a reason to terminate an injured employee, that employee will not be able to receive weekly benefits, no matter how significant the injury. For example, an employer can allege that the employee broke a safety rule by getting injured, terminate the employee and that employee will not receive any benefits during the time that the injured employee is unable to work.

Other Proposals

Other legislation proposed would limit an injured employee’s ability to choose a treating doctor, limit the treating doctor’s ability to prescribe treatment and limit the Arbitrator’s ability to take the injured employee’s condition, testimony and medical records into account when determining permanent disability.

At this time the Senate bills have been referred to the Labor Committee and the House bills have been referred to the Rules Committee. We will continue to keep you informed of these and any other proposed changes to the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act.

When considering these proposed changes to the Workers’ Compensation Act remember - any changes that lessen the rights and benefits of workers injured on the job also lowers an employers’ incentives to provide workers with a safe workplace.

© 2010 by Ridge & Downes - All rights reserved.