NO JUSTICE: THE CASE AGAINST THE CALLOUS CAMPAIGN TO CUT COMPENSATION BENEFITS FOR INJURED WORKERS

The WCA has released a new paper refuting the claims of the Business Council that employer costs are rising (either in general or for schedule loss of use awards) and that the existing Workers’ Compensation Board impairment guidelines are “outdated.”

To the contrary, the data shows that workers’ compensation costs are lower today than they were two decades ago, and were just reduced by nearly a half billion dollars. In addition, schedule loss costs have remained flat for twenty-five years, with the exception of four years in which benefits were increased for middle- and high-wage workers in exchange caps on permanent partial disability payments, which saved employers a billion dollars.

The WCA report also shows that – contrary to the Business Council’s contention – the existing impairment guidelines in fact account for advances in medicine, and reduce awards as outcomes and functional capacity improve.

Finally, the WCA report reminds the Workers’ Compensation Board that the vast majority of workers believe their compensation benefits are inadequate under the present system, and that further benefit cuts would only exacerbate the existing unfairness and inequity to injured workers.

The full WCA report is available HERE.

 

WCA RELEASES RESULTS OF INJURED WORKER SURVEY ON SCHEDULE LOSS OF USE

As the Workers’ Compensation Board prepares to release a proposal that is expected to revise its impairment guidelines to slash compensation for permanent injuries to limbs, it is crucial that it hear the voices of injured workers.  Between May 16, 2017 and August 3, 2017, the WCA conducted a survey seeking the views of injured workers about their schedule loss of use awards.  Over 1,500 injured workers responded to the survey, 847 of whom had a workers’ compensation case that involved a schedule loss award within the past five years.

Key findings from the survey are:

  • 69% of injured workers believed that their schedule loss evaluation was too low under the present guidelines.  30% believed it was fair, and only 1% believed it was too high.
  • 75% of injured workers believed that the money award they received was inadequate.  24% believed it was fair, and again only 1% believed it was too high.
  • 75% of injured workers believed the award did not represent adequate compensation for their injury, while only a quarter believed it was fair.
  • 81% of injured workers believed that the award did not adequately compensate them for wage loss resulting from their injury; only 19% believed it was adequate.

Low-wage workers are treated even more unfairly under the present guidelines.  The survey showed that:

  • 76% of low-wage workers believed their schedule loss evaluation was inadequate, compared to 65% for all other wage groups.
  • 81% of low-wage workers believed that the money award they received was inadequate, compared to 71% and 72% for the other two wage groups.
  • 82% of low-wage workers believed that the award did not represent adequate compensation for their injury, compared to 70% and 72% for the other two wage groups.
  • 88% of low-wage workers believed that the award did not adequately compensate them for wage loss, compared to 77% for the other two wage groups.

In arriving at any revision to its guidelines, it is important for the Board to bear in mind that the overwhelming majority of injured workers believe that the benefits provided under the existing guidelines are grossly inadequate.[1]  Low-wage workers in particular feel that they are treated unfairly and undercompensated under the existing guidelines.  Any downward revision to permanency evaluations would exacerbate injustices that already exist, would result in low-wage workers receiving lower benefits than they received twenty-five years ago, and would eviscerate the bargain underlying the 2007 reforms.

The full report, including hundreds of comments of injured workers, is available HERE.