Legislative Wrap-Up: Workers’ Compensation

The General Assembly has now recessed, and lawmakers have returned to their districts to begin focusing on their fall re-election campaigns. The Senate is scheduled to be back in Columbus for two weeks beginning in late September, while the House won’t return until after the November 8 General Election.

Our Legislative Wrap-Up blog series will recap the accomplishments and also highlight a few things that the Ohio Chamber will continue to push for when the legislature returns later this year. There will be seven blog posts, each focusing on specific policy areas. Last, but not least is our final installment on workers’ compensation.

House Bill 207 brings a much needed common sense reform to Ohio’s workers’ compensation system. The bill allows an employer whose employee is injured in a motor vehicle accident caused by a third party to apply to the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) to have that claim charged against the BWC Surplus Fund and not their experience. Previously, the claim would have applied to the employer’s experience, likely jeopardizing eligibility for discount programs and potentially resulting in dramatic premium spikes. HB 207 protects employers and employees injured by a third-party in a motor vehicle accident. This bill was supported by the Ohio Chamber and passed by the legislature prior to summer recess and signed by Gov. Kasich.

Employers will also benefit from another law passed last year, when the BWC was given the ability to contract with insurers to provide a new optional coverage for Ohio employers with employees working out-of-state. This new workers’ compensation insurance option will simplify the system for Ohio businesses with employees working in other states. It means that employees can be covered without businesses having to manage policies in multiple states with different laws.

The Ohio Chamber has also been working with the BWC to address the issue of successor liability. While this work is still ongoing, progress has been made in a few areas. The BWC will now allow an acquiring business to request information regarding the business being acquired using the new AC-4 Form. This will allow the BWC to release information to the acquiring business including demographic information, accounts receivable balance, payroll and experience modification history, most recent quarterly claims cost, and pending audits. While there is more work to be done in this area, this change will allow a prospective purchaser to be aware of any outstanding workers’ compensation liabilities and factor them in prior to sale.

This concludes our legislative wrap-up series. We will continue to keep you informed on the latest business policy news once the legislature reconvenes in the fall.