EEOC Speaks Out on Workers Compensation ADA Obligations

Employers Must Begin Interactive Process for Return to Work Sooner Than Thought
Dated: December 4, 2014

[WorkCompRoundUp is authorized to provide this information on behalf of EEOC’s Aaron Konopasky, JD and Jennifer Christian, MD.]
EEOC’s Aaron Konopasky, JD and Jennifer Christian, MD Provide Guidance on When Employers Must Start Discussion Regarding Return to Work Accommodations

 

This may be surprising news for some readers: In workers’ compensation, MMI should not be viewed as the trigger for ADA-related protections and obligations.

 

Background: A common practice in workers’ compensation claims management may not be legal. Employers / claims organizations that postpone the reasonable accommodation process until an injured worker’s medical condition has reached MMI (maximum medical improvement) may be violating the ADA, now that the definition of “disability” has been broadened. Prior to MMI, if medical restrictions have been established by the treating physician, employers often decide whether to offer temporary transitional work without involvement of injured workers. If not, the workers remain out of work – and may end up losing their jobs. Jennifer Christian, MD, MPH who chairs ACOEM’s Work Fitness & Disability Section, asked Aaron Konopasky, JD, PhD, a senior attorney advisor to the EEOC about this. She was surprised to hear that the ADA does apply at any time – whenever a medical condition has the potential to significantly disrupt an employee’s work participation. This means that injured workers will need to be active participants in their employers’ stay-at-work and return-to-work decision-making process. Christian and Konopasky agreed to co-author a brief summary of the way these two programs interact during the post-injury period, which appears below. Please forward this on to anyone who needs to know.

 

In the Worker’s Compensation context, ADA-related issues can arise at any of several points along the injury management timeline. As a practical matter, employers should be pro-actively evaluating and managing Worker’s Compensation and ADA legal issues concurrently.

 

This is because an employer’s reasonable accommodation-related obligations begin as soon as the employer knows that an individual worker is having trouble at work because of a serious medical problem. By definition, if a doctor informs the employer that a worker has medical restrictions/limitations due to a work-related condition, whether or not the employee is actually working, the employer is now aware that a medical problem is having an impact on the employee’s ability to work. If the condition has the potential to significantly disrupt the employee’s work participation, the employer should immediately engage the worker in an interactive process to look for a reasonable accommodation under the ADA.

 

Although the employer can stop at this point to determine whether the individual is a “qualified individual with a disability,” it may not be worthwhile. Since employees with workers’ comp injuries are already employed at the time of injury, one can presume they meet the requirement of being “qualified” for the job. And, under the much broader standards established by the ADAAA, any conditions serious enough to require medical restrictions/limitations for more than a few days or weeks (and even some conditions that have not yet caused any work disruption) are likely to meet the definition of an ADA “disability.” An extended inquiry regarding the applicability of the ADA could result in unnecessary delay during a critical period.

 

Thus, whether or not the worker’s condition is stable and has reached maximum medical improvement (is at MMI) has no relevance, either (a) to the time when the employer’s obligation to engage in the interactive process begins or (b) to the time when a worker should be considered a qualified individual with a disability under the ADA. For more details about specific times when the ADA may apply, read below.

 

1. At the time a person is injured.
No matter whether the resulting condition is already stable or is still evolving, the ADA may require the employer to provide a reasonable accommodation that would enable the individual to perform his or her essential job functions, unless doing so would involve significant difficulty or expense. Examples might include specialized equipment, removal of non-essential job functions, and special scheduling. Individualized assessment is a key precept of the ADA, so a blanket policy is not appropriate. Employers might also choose to reduce job demands or productivity expectations on a short-term basis, although this would not be required by the ADA. It should be noted, though, that the ADA cannot be used to deny a benefit or privilege to which the employee is entitled on a separate basis. If, for example, the individual has other types of leave available at his or her discretion, whether paid (such as vacation leave) or unpaid (such as FMLA leave), the employer cannot deny that leave based on the fact that he or she could remain on the job with a reasonable accommodation.

 

2. While recovering out of work due to injury
The ADA may apply as soon as the worker’s condition becomes stable enough that on-the-job reasonable accommodations might allow the individual to perform the essential functions of the job (whether or not there has been a formal declaration of MMI). A blanket policy is not appropriate at this juncture, either. At this point, the employer should re-engage the interactive process to determine whether a reasonable accommodation would allow the individual to return to their usual job. As mentioned above, employers might also choose to reduce job demands or productivity expectations on a short-term basis, although this would not be required by the ADA.

 

3. When the individual has exhausted his or her leave and workers’ compensation benefits, and is still unable to return to the original position, even with an on-the-job reasonable accommodation.
At this point, whether or not the medical condition has reached MMI, the employer should consider other forms of reasonable accommodation, such as additional unpaid leave or, if the individual is not expected to regain the ability to do the essential functions of his or her current position, reassignment to a vacant position (if one is available). Again, a blanket policy is not appropriate.

 

In summary, legal obligations under Worker’s Compensation and ADA legal issues should not be assumed to be sequential, because they may run simultaneously. Duration is not the key issue; the main issue is the nature of the condition and its impact on the ability to function at work.

 

 

CLARIFICATION To MEMO dated December 4, 2014
Dated: December 11, 2014

The EEOC’s Aaron Konopasky and I were glad to see many thoughtful comments in response to our message about the ADA in workers’ compensation last week in the forums where it was posted. Our summary was primarily written to dispel two common myths:

  1. In workers’ compensation, the time to think about the ADA is at MMI. This is NOT true. MMI is late among several points in the post-injury timeline when the ADA needs to be considered.
  1. The ADA’s requirement for an interactive process doesn’t apply in decision-making about transitional work assignments. This is NOT true. Injured workers do need to be active participants in the workers’ comp stay-at-work and return-to-work process.

 

However, based on the comments we have received, we want to clarify that the ADA has several other significant implications for how employers should respond to existing employees who develop health problems. The ADA is about civil rights for people with disabilities, not financial benefits of one kind or another. The fundamental purpose of the ADA’s employment provisions is to help people with disabilities get and keep jobs, as long as they are qualified to do the work and can meet productivity standards. The cause of the disability is irrelevant. It does not matter what other types of policies or programs are also involved — whether workers’ compensation, FMLA, sick pay, or disability insurance programs. A disability can be newly acquired, transitory, fluctuating, progressive, or longstanding and stable. It can be the result of injuries, illnesses, congenital conditions, or the natural aging process. The only relevant question is whether the disability is now or is perceived as potentially having a significant impact on someone’s ability to perform their job, take home their regular paycheck, and stay employed.

 

Here are 5 more practical implications for management of ALL types of health-related employment situations:

 

  1. As the Federal agency that enforces the employment provisions of the ADA, EEOC’s biggest concern in situations involving disability leaves of any type will be that someone with a disability is being forced to take leave even though he or she could do the essential functions of the job with a reasonable accommodation. Everyone involved in the decision to keep someone out of work — doctors, third-party benefit administrators, managed care companies, workplace supervisors and employee program managers — should keep that fact firmly in mind, so that people with disabilities are not needlessly forced out of the workplace.

 

  1. Only the employer is accountable for complying with the employment provisions of the ADA. However, treating physicians and the employer’s vendors (benefits claims administrators, managed care companies) who fail to communicate with the employer during the stay-at-work and return-to-work process may be exposing the employer to increased risk/liability. When a vendor or a doctor (especially one who has been selected by the employer) fails to notify the employer that an employee described difficulty working or an adjustment that might allow them to work, the employer could be held liable for failing to provide that accommodation — even though the information was never properly passed along. Doctors and vendors also can help educate employees and small or unsophisticated employers to ensure that the law is followed.

 

  1. Some employees may express the desire to remain on leave, rather than return to work with a reasonable accommodation. Of course, employees with disabilities must be allowed to use accumulated sick or annual leave, just like any other employee. And they may have a legal right to insist on leave if, for example, they qualify for FMLA. But if an individual with a disability has no discretionary leave, and a reasonable accommodation would allow performance of job functions in a manner that is safe and consistent with his or her medical needs, then the employee may be required to return to work with the accommodation.

 

  1. Paying people money to sit home who are well enough to do something productive does not count as a reasonable accommodation under the ADA, especially when they were not part of the decision-making process that has put them out of work. The employee must be actively involved in arranging any temporary or long-lasting adjustments to their usual jobs in order for the employer to meet the interactive process obligation. With respect to specific cash payments made under workers’ compensation—

 

A.  Temporary Total Disability (TTD) Benefits – There is little difference between cash payments under workers’ comp TTD and disability benefit programs for personal health conditions except how the amounts are calculated. Employees are usually receiving them for one of four reasons:

 

  1. The doctor wrote “no work” because their patient’s medical condition is so severe or unstable that it is unsafe for them to do anything except try to get better;
  2. The doctor wrote “no work” because of a perception that the employer cannot or will not provide safe and suitably modified work on a temporary or long-term basis;
  3. The doctor released their patient to work with restrictions, but state or federal law, or a union contract means that the employee cannot work until fully able to do the essential functions of their job, so the employee is put out of work temporarily.
  4. The doctor released their patient to work with restrictions, but the employer said they cannot meet those restrictions (cannot find appropriate work to assign them within their current work capacity) so the employee is put out of work.

 

In all but # 1 above, the ADA may apply. However, the employee is often not consulted as these decisions are being made. As stated above, giving the employee money is not a reasonable accommodation, and the ADA requires that the employer interact with the employee in looking for a solution that will enable the employee to stay at work.

 

B. Other types of cash benefits: Temporary Partial Benefits, Permanent Partial Benefits and Permanent Total Benefits -These cash awards help compensate employees for economic loss as a result of their injuries. However, as stated above, giving people money is not a reasonable accommodation, and does not accomplish the public purpose of the ADA.

 

5. Employers sometimes limit the length of transitional work assignments (TWA) in order to avoid them turning into required permanent accommodations or becoming subject to union job bid rules. To avoid ADA liability, a “usual” 90-day limitation policy that provides for an individualized assessment of the individual’s situation and possible extension is more appropriate. If there is a specific reason why extending a particular employee’s TWA or granting extra (paid or unpaid) time off to heal more completely will allow them to keep their job that might be a reasonable accommodation. Some temporary adjustments are reasonable accommodations (including, for example, temporary use of adaptive equipment or temporary relocation of a workstation to the ground floor) and may need to be extended unless doing so would involve significant difficulty or expense. However, TWAs may have other aspects that can be discontinued without fear of ADA liability, including temporary reductions in productivity requirements and elimination of essential job functions. These measures go beyond what the ADA requires.

 

 

Please note that this material is an informal discussion and does not constitute an official opinion or interpretation of the EEOC.

 

 

Aaron Konopasky, J.D., Ph.D
Senior Attorney Advisor
ADA/GINA Policy Division
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
Email: aaron.konopasky@eeoc.gov

 

Jennifer Christian, MD, MPH
President, Webility Corporation
Chair, Work Fitness & Disability Section
American College of Occupational & Environmental Medicine
Email: Jennifer.christian@webility.md

 

If you would like to hear directly from the EEOC, inquiries can be submitted by mail to:

EEOC Office of Legal Counsel
131M Street, NE
Washington, DC 20507

 

Download A Printable Copy of This Memo

Nova Scotia Widows to Be Reimbursed in Workplace Deaths

More than 100 Nova Scotian (Canada) women whose husbands were killed on the job will be reimbursed for benefits they were denied because they remarried before April 17, 1985.

 

“Every woman whose husband was killed on the job deserves to be treated fairly and compensated properly,” Labour and Advanced Education Minister Frank Corbett stated recently. “In the past, that didn’t happen. That’s not acceptable and we’re doing something about it because it’s the right thing to do.”

 

In 1999, the province changed legislation so remarried women continued to receive their survivor’s benefits, retroactive to the date of their remarriages. Benefits for women who remarried before 1985, were only retroactive to 1999. Corbett introduced changes to the Workers Compensation Act in April to ensure those women also receive entire retroactive benefits.

 

 

Coal Mining Death Led to Changes

 

The deputy premier credited Betty Bauman of Glace Bay for leading the group of women fighting for this change. Ms. Bauman’s husband died in a coal mine in 1960, leaving her, at 26, alone with three young daughters.

 

“It means so much to me and my children to finally receive this compensation,” stated Bauman. “After so many years, I’m incredibly grateful the province is making this decision. This compensation means so many of us aging women will be able to afford to stay in our homes and take care of our families.”

 

Elsewhere in Canada, four other provinces have paid back these benefits.

 

The majority of this compensation will come from the Workers Compensation Board accident fund, which covers workers injured on the job. Employers who self-insure, like the province of Nova Scotia, will be responsible for their portion of the cost.


Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker, attorney, or qualified professional about workers comp issues.

Railworker Unjustly Fired For Acting In Self-Defense Against Abusive Customer

British Rail Union RMT recently confirmed that a ballot was entered into service on London Midland over the victimization of a Revenue Protection Officer fired by the company for resisting a physical and verbal assault by a known troublemaker.

 

Employee Verbally & Physically Assaulted Acted In Self-Defense

According to RMT information, James Crabtree is a London Midland Revenue Protection Inspector and on the day the incident happened he was serving on the gateline at Watford Junction.

The report notes that he was reportedly verbally abused and physically pushed by a well-known troublemaker when he requested to see a valid travel ticket. The situation rapidly intensified when the lout stood in front of Crabtree and continued the verbal abuse, in the process reportedly spitting chewed up food all over his uniform coat. In fear of being physically assaulted and to protect his own well-being, Crabtree reportedly pushed the aggressive and threatening individual out of the way in a clear act of self-defense.

 

Company Fired Worker Rather Than Defend

As the story goes, instead of protecting a member of staff dealing with a violent situation in a vulnerable position London Midland opted to level a series of alleged trumped-up and nonsensical charges against Crabtree and, refusing to listen to reason from the union, fired him while the perpetrator got away with it.

RMT has a stated policy of fighting abuse and assaults on rail staff, a commitment clearly shared by London Midland in words only, and as a result of this latest reported travesty of justice involving a revenue protection inspector the union decide to begin balloting RPI members in the southern arm of London Midland. The balloting involved both strike action and action short of strike in pursuit of the campaign for justice for Crabtree and his immediate reinstatement.

 

Company Has Failed Miserably in Protecting Staff

According to RMT General Secretary Bob Crow, “London Midland display posters at their stations stipulating ‘we always prosecute those who intimidate and abuse or assault our staff.’ Yet the company has failed miserably in their duty of care and support towards James Crabtree. Instead of protecting him, the company has dismissed him in the most blatant travesty of workplace justice – siding instead with a known troublemaker who is the kind of menace who should be barred from our railways

“RMT is clear that the trumped-up allegations leveled against James are unfounded and that the harsh decision taken by London Midland is not only intimidating but highly offensive towards a hardworking, loyal member of staff. RMT has therefore informed the company that a dispute situation now exists between our two organizations and that RMT demand the immediate reinstatement of James Crabtree.

“RMT remains available for talks aimed at righting this appalling miscarriage of workplace justice which sends out a signal to thugs that rail staff are fair game for abuse and intimidation.”

 

Author Michael B. Stack, CPA, Director of Operations, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is an expert in employer communication systems and part of the Amaxx team helping companies reduce their workers compensation costs by 20% to 50%. He is a writer, speaker, and website publisher.  www.reduceyourworkerscomp.com.  Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

 

©2013 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law.

 


Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker, attorney, or qualified professional about workers comp issues.

The Best Tidbits of News from the Workers Comp Community

 

 
In The Washington Post's On Small Business Blog, MCA's Director of Nurse Case Management, Barbara DeGray, discusses techniques for overcoming feelings of isolation for remote employees. Read more…
 
 
 
Longtime insurance technology executive Mark Stergio has been named CEO and senior vice president of risk management information systems (RMIS) provider Risk Sciences Group (RSG, Atlanta). He will be responsible for continuing the development of a long-term strategy for RSG that focuses on innovative technology, effective analytics and easy-to-use applications that help clients control their overall cost of risk, according to the company.  Read more…
 
 
 
MSP & MIR Program Featured at This Year's  
Worker's Compensation Conference   
 
Bret Cade, Executive Vice President of Sales & Marketing at Gould & Lamb, will be the featured moderator for the 2012 WCI Conferences' full-day program titled "Providing Clarity in a Land of Confusion".  This comprehensive breakout, sponsored by Gould & Lamb, will seek to clarify what has become an extremely complicated process, creating enormous issues for the workers' compensation industry, soon to further expand into the general liability area.  Conference Homepage
 
 
 
Lexis Nexis Lays out Blueprint for HIPAA & ADA Compliant Wellness Programs   
 
 
“Blueprint for HIPAA and ADA Compliant Wellness Programs: Encouraging Good Health Reduces Workers' Compensation Expenses, by John Stahl, Esq. The article "Guidance for a Reasonably Designed, Employer-Sponsored Wellness Program Using Outcomes-Based Incentives" in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine demonstrates how employer-sponsored outcomes-based wellness programs (wellness programs) reduce workers' compensation and other employment-related healthcare costs.” Read more.
 
 
“Court Dismisses Injured Worker's Tort Action Against Carrier for Five-Month Delay in Medical Benefits, by Thomas A. Robinson. A Texas appellate court recently affirmed the dismissal of a tort claim filed against a workers' compensation carrier, another defendant (Southwest) that had provided administrative services, and a physician alleging that the trio were liable for damages under common-law bad faith, statutory bad faith, and fraud theories associated with the carrier's delay of five months in paying benefits to the plaintiff-worker. Read more about this case and other cases involving incarceration, borrowing employer, and causation of injury.”
 
 
“Workers' Comp, Texas Style: A Highly Regulated System in a Pro-Business State, by Stuart D. Colburn and Albert Betts, Jr. Cotton, cattle and oil were the primary economic engines when Texas first adopted workers' compensation. In the 100+ years since, the economy and workers' compensation laws have changed dramatically. The shift from an agricultural to a manufacturing and then to an information based economy changes the frequency and type of injuries sustained at work. Health insurance, Medicare/Medicaid, and disability insurance alter the landscape of both a social safety net for employees and higher costs for employers.” Read more.
 
 

Author Michael B. Stack, CPA, Director of Operations, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is an expert in employer communication systems and part of the Amaxx team helping companies reduce their workers compensation costs by 20% to 50%. He is a writer, speaker, and website publisher.  www.reduceyourworkerscomp.com Contact mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com

 

 


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Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker or agent about workers comp issues.

 

©2012 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact us at: Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.

Better Rules for Americans with Disabilities at Rail Stations

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood recently announced that individuals with disabilities will have greater access to inter city, commuter and high-speed train travel as a result of a new rule requiring new station platform construction or significant renovation to enable those with disabilities to get on and off any car on a train, according to a report from the agency.
 
 
This will help give passengers with disabilities better access to rail travel across the country,” said LaHood. “By putting this protection in place, passengers with disabilities will be able to get on and off any accessible car that is available to passengers at a new or altered station platform.” (WCxKit)
 
 
The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) is amending its Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations to require inter city, commuter and high-speed passenger railroads to ensure, at new and significantly renovated station platforms, that passengers with disabilities can get on and off any accessible car of the train.  Passenger railroads must provide level-entry boarding at new or altered stations in which no track passing through the station and adjacent to platforms is shared with existing freight rail operations. 
 
 
For new or altered stations in which track shared with existing freight rail operations precludes compliance, passenger railroads will be able to choose among a variety of means to meet a performance standard to ensure that passengers with disabilities can access each accessible train car that other passengers can board at the station. These options include providing car-borne lifts, station-based lifts, or mini-high platforms. 
 
 
The Department will review a railroad’s proposed method to ensure that it provides reliable and safe services to individuals with disabilities in an integrated manner. 
 
 
The rule also requires that transit providers carry a wheelchair and occupant if the lift and vehicle can physically accommodate them, unless doing so is inconsistent with legitimate safety requirements.  (WCxKit)
 
 
In addition, it codifies the existing DOT mechanism for issuing ADA guidance and makes minor technical changes to the Department’s ADA rules.
 
 
Author Robert Elliott, executive vice president, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. has worked successfully for 20 years with many industries to reduce Workers Compensation costs, including airlines, healthcare, printing/publishing, pharmaceuticals, retail, hospitality and manufacturing. See www.LowerWC.com for more information. Contact: Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.

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Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker or agent about workers comp issues.
 
©2011 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.

Protests Held to Raise Awareness of Pay Discrimination Against the Blind

 
The National Federation of the Blind (NFB), the oldest and largest nationwide organization of blind people, held more than 20 informational protests across the United States to raise awareness about the practice of paying below the federal minimum wage to Americans with disabilities.
 
 

The Rehabilitation Act is supposed to provide services to disabled Americans so that they can obtain competitive employment, but Title V, Section 511 of the proposed Rehabilitation Act language reinforces Section 14(c) of the 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which allows certain entities holding special wage certificates to pay workers with disabilities less than the federal minimum wage.

 

According to the NFB, the protests were held July 26, the 21st anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, at the primary district office locations of United States senators serving on the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (the HELP Committee). The HELP Committee is currently considering legislation—the Workforce Investment Act—which would reauthorize the payment of subminimum wages to disabled workers.(WCxKit)
 
 
Dr. Marc Maurer, president of the National Federation of the Blind said, “Unequal pay for equal work on the basis of disability is unfair, discriminatory, and immoral. We urge the senators who serve on the HELP Committee to eliminate the indefensible practice of paying disabled workers less than the federal minimum wage.”
 
 
Twenty-one informational protests were held in 16 states, including Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Washington, and Wyoming.
 
 
Unfortunately, the reauthorization vote on the Workforce Investment Act (WIA)  scheduled for August 3, 2011 did not take place and as of August 11 is still stalled in committee.(WCxKit)
 
 

 
Author Robert Elliott, executive vice president, Amaxx Risks Solutions, Inc. has worked successfully for 20 years with many industries to reduce Workers Compensation costs, including airlines, healthcare, printing/publishing, pharmaceuticals, retail, hospitality and manufacturing. See www.LowerWC.com for more information. Contact: Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.

 
Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker or agent about workers comp issues.
 
©2011 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.

ADAAA Increasing the Interpretation of Disability Goes Into Effect

The EEOCs final regulations to implement the ADA Amendments Act (ADAAA) were published in the Federal Register recently (3/25/11) and go into affect May 25, 2011. The final regulations reflect significant changes in the interpretation of the ADAs definition of “disability” but not in the actual definition of the term "disability."
 
 
The ADAs definition of the term “disability” has not changed. The ADA believes a disability to be a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities; a record (or past history) of such an impairment; or being regarded as having a disability. However, the law makes major changes in how those terms are interpreted:
 
1.      An impairment does not need to prevent or significantly restrict performance of a major life activity to be considered a disability.
 
2.      What is considered an impairment must be construed in favor of broad coverage of individuals to the maximum extent permitted by the terms of the ADA
 
3.      “Mitigating measures,” such as medication and assistive devices like hearing aids, must not be considered when determining whether someone has a disability (with the exception of ordinary eyeglasses or contact lenses.)
 
4.      The term “major life activities” includes “major bodily functions.”
 
5.      Impairments that are episodic, such as epilepsy, or in remission, such as cancer, are disabilities if they would be substantially limiting when active.
 
 
The final regulations will go into effect 60 days from March 25, so on May 25.
 
 
Author Robert Elliott, executive vice president, Amaxx Risks Solutions, Inc. has worked successfully for 20 years with many industries to reduce Workers Compensation costs, including airlines, healthcare, printing/publishing, pharmaceuticals, retail, hospitality and manufacturing. See www.LowerWC.com for more information. Contact:Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.
 
 
 
Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker or agent about workers comp issues.
 
©2011 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com

New Federal Guidelines for Disabled Using Service Animals

A new set of federal guidelines regarding service animals for the disabled be they at work or outside the office was unveiled recently by the U.S. Department of Justice for the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The new recommendations limit service animals to dogs and housebroken miniature horses.
 
 
According to the Associated Press, the new guidelines are not binding to states, municipalities and other agencies, which are free to enact the policy or to comprise their own. Individuals, however, who rely on other types of animals to assist them in managing physical disabilities and conditions, are reportedly expressing concerns. (WCxKit)
 
 
The DOJ chose to revamp its service animal regulation due to comments from businesses, state and local governments and individuals with disabilities, including several who use service animals, according to a department spokesman. People were putting vests on pocket pets and calling them service animals, the spokesperson noted. "Changes were needed."
 
 
As it turns out, federal agencies are not in sync when it comes to animals.
 
 
The U.S. Department of Transportation and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development permit service animals of all kinds as well as emotional support animals, although some airlines may require advance notice, a doctor's note and some additional documentation. (WCxKit)
 
 
The Department of Justice posted its proposed rules in 2008 and the adopted version was not much different, so people have had time to react, according to a policy analyst for the Disability Rights Education and Defence Fund (DREDF).
 
  
Author Robert Elliott, executive vice president, Amaxx Risks Solutions, Inc. has worked successfully for 20 years with many industries to reduce Workers Compensation costs, including airlines, healthcare, printing/publishing, pharmaceuticals, retail, hospitality and manufacturing. See www.LowerWC.com for more information. Contact:Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com or 860-553-6604.
 
 
 
Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker or agent about workers comp issues.
 
©2011 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.

Maternity Leave Extension Proposal Leads to Debate

New proposals extending maternity leave to 20 weeks and unveiling two weeks of paternity leave, which have been approved by the European Parliament, have led to a heated debate in Malta.
 
 
According to the European Industrial Relations Observatory (EIRO), employers say implementing such a measure will hurt the economy, and the government reaction has been muted, with both sides questioning the timing of such a proposal. (WCxKit)
 
 
Partit Laburista, the opposition party, supports the measure, and is urging the government to help employers fund it.
 
 
Maltese law already allows for the European minimum of 14 weeks of maternity leave, paid in full by employers.
 
 
The employers associations dislike the new proposal due to the fact they claim it would, according to a study conducted by the Malta Business Bureau (MBB), cost the employers an extra €12 million annually.
 
 
MBB claims this would damage the competitiveness of the Maltese economy and accuses the European Parliament of being ‘separated from the present economic needs. The bureau also fears it could be fatal for Maltese small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), which serve a major role in the national economy.
 
 
Employers also state that firms may be less inclined to hire women due to the extra cost. Representatives of the employers associations contend that adopting this proposal would increase the gender wage gap, and may even reinforce the glass ceiling.
 
 
The Maltese governments two representatives in the European Parliament expressed their concern about this measure, stating that the extension was originally supposed to be 18 and not 20 weeks. (WCxKit)
 
 

However, although they voted against many of the proposals, in the final vote on the entire package they voted in favor.

 

Author Rebecca Shafer, JD, President of Amaxx Risks Solutions, Inc. is a national expert in the field of workers compensation. She is a writer, speaker and website publisher. Her expertise is working with employers to reduce workers compensation costs, and her clients include airlines, healthcare, printing/publishing, pharmaceuticals, retail, hospitality and manufacturing. www.LowerWC.com Contact:  RShafer@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com .

 
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Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker or agent about workers comp issues.

©2010 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact
Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.

5 Highlights in Bureau of Labor Statistics Report on Paid Sick Leave Provisions

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) recently issued a new report in its Program Perspectives series examining paid sick leave benefits, including both the percentage of employees with access to paid sick leave and the associated employer costs.
According to the report, the length of service had minimal impact on paid sick leave provisions, but several other worker and company characteristics did affect the provisions.

Additionally, BLS’ report reveals
that worker characteristics contributed to the differing employer costs associated with providing paid sick leave benefits.

The data contained in the report
are from the National Compensation Surveys on Employee Benefits in the United States and Employer Costs for Employee Compensation.
Highlights of the report include:

1.      Private industry workers access to paid sick leave benefits varied by occupational group and ranged from 84% for management, professional, and related occupations to 42 percent for service workers.

2.     Eighty-one percent of employees earning wages in the highest 25 percent of the wage distribution had access to paid sick leave, compared with only 33 percent for employees in the lowest 25 percent.

3.     In private industry, employees received an average of 8 days of paid sick leave after 1 year of service, with large establishments providing an average of 11 days and small establishments offering an average of 6 days.

4.      The cost for sick leave per employee hour worked in State and local government was 81 cents compared to 23 cents in private industry.

5.     Higher paying occupations typically incur higher sick leave costs.  For example, the average employer cost for sick leave benefits in management, professional, and related occupations was 53 cents per employee hour worked in private industry; the cost for service occupations was just 8 cents per employee hour worked.


Author Rebecca Shafer,
Consultant/Attorney, President, Amaxx Risks Solutions, Inc. has worked successfully for 20 years with many industries to reduce Workers’ Compensation costs, including airlines, healthcare, manufacturing, printing/publishing, pharmaceuticals, retail, hospitality and manufacturing. Contact: 
RShafer@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.

FREE WC IQ Test:
http://www.workerscompkit.com/intro/
WC Books:
http://www.reduceyourworkerscomp.com/workers-comp-books-manuals.php
WC Calculator: http://www.reduceyourworkerscomp.com/calculator.php
TD Calculator: http://www.reduceyourworkerscomp.com/transitional-duty-cost-calculator.php

Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker or agent about workers' comp issues.

©2010 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com 

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