Ohio House Passes Harmful BWC Budget Bill

In my blog last week, I wrote about troubling provisions included in the substitute bill of HB 80, which is the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation biennium budget bill. Those provisions included a prohibition on state funded employers from objecting to a final settlement offer once the claim is out of their experience, an essential ban on employer policies that call for employees to use accrued sick leave in lieu of temporary total disability, a fine of $500 per employee and per day when an employer misclassifies a worker as an independent contractor, and a provision that redefines who an employee is for purposes of unemployment compensation, workers’ compensation, and Ohio income tax. 

In addition to these changes the substitute bill proposed a costly and fundamental change to Ohio’s workers’ compensation law by allowing for coverage of a mental injury, PTSD, without the requirement of a physical injury for peace officers, firefighters, and emergency medical workers.

Today, the Ohio House of Representatives voted in favor of all these changes when they passed HB 80 by a vote of 55 to 38. By passing this legislation, the Ohio House has put employers at risk of higher workers’ compensation premiums, increased the likelihood of litigation based upon their classification of independent contractors, and jeopardized the stability of the workers’ compensation system.

Also, the inclusion of coverage for a mental-mental claim ignores over one hundred years of workers’ compensation precedent and allows workers’ compensation coverage of a claim without any physical injury for the first time in Ohio.

The legislation now moves to the Ohio Senate where hearings may begin as early as next week. In the Ohio Senate, the Ohio Chamber will be meeting with members and testifying in committee to explain why HB 80 in its current form represents a step in the wrong direction for Ohio’s workers’ compensation system and will be harmful to Ohio’s business climate.