Recently, the Wisconsin State Assembly and Senate passed a bill approved by the Wisconsin Worker’s Compensation Council that makes several changes to the existing Worker’s Compensation Law. Assembly Bill 724 contains over 20 new provisions and will take affect (assuming Gov. Walker signs the bill into law) in the beginning of April. Some of these changes could have a major impact on employers so it is important you understand the changes and how they can affect your worker’s compensation costs. Some of the changes to be aware of include:
- The maximum weekly compensation rate for permanent partial disability is increasing from $322 to $342 for injuries occurring before January 1, 2017, and to $362 for injuries occurring on or after that date.
- Violation of an employer policy against drug or alcohol use that causes the employee's injury, will result in neither the employee nor the employee's dependents receiving any compensation, including the death benefit, relating to that injury. This provision does not reduce or eliminate an employer's liability for the cost of treating the employee's injury. The current law states, if an employee is injured as a result of intoxication by alcohol controlled substances the compensation, including the death benefit, is reduced by 15 percent.
- The statute of limitations for traumatic injuries is being reduced to 6 years from 12 years.
- Electronic medical records will be provided by healthcare professional for a fee of $26. The current law states that medical records will be provided by healthcare professionals at a cost not to exceed 45 cents for page or $7.50 per request, but does not mention electronic records.
- An employer can now terminate an employee while they are on light duty following a workplace injury for misconduct. “Misconduct” is defined by the law as “action or conduct evincing such willful or wanton disregard of an employer's interests as is found in 1) deliberate violation or disregard of standards of behavior that an employer has a right to expect of his or her employees; or 2) carelessness or negligence of such degree or recurrence as to manifest culpability, wrongful intent, or evil design in disregard of the employer's interests or to show an intentional and substantial disregard of an employer's interests or of an employee's duties and obligations to his or her employer.”
If you have additional questions regarding Worker’s Compensation please feel free to contact me and I would be happy to assist you in any way I can.
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