Georgia: Updates to Workers Compensation Law

The Georgia General Assembly recently passed a workers’ compensation bill (HB 412) that amended the current workers compensation law. These changes went into effect on July 1, 2015 and are required for employers with 3 or more employees.

What Changed?

  • Compensation for catastrophic and non-catastrophic job related injuries increased from $525 to $550 per week.
  • Compensation for those who are able to return to work, but can only get a lower paying job because of their injury, increased from $350 to $367 per week.
  • Compensation payable to a surviving spouse as the sole dependent at the time of the employee’s death, has increased from a maximum of $150,000 to $220,000 (payable at $550 per week).
  • The Conformed Panel of Physicians was removed to align with a legislative change that struck provisions relating to the Conformed Panel of Physicians.

Georgia Workplace Posters Required for Employers

In addition to the Georgia Workers Compensation posting, employers in the state must also display a variety of other postings to remain compliant with Georgia’s workplace regulations, including:

  • Unemployment Insurance for Employees
  • Equal Pay for Equal Work Act
  • Vacation Unemployment Insurance
  • Child Labor Law
  • Bill of Rights for the Injured Worker
  • E-Verify
  • Right to Work
  • No Smoking

The updated posting is included as part of the Georgia and Federal posters, which contains workplace postings required for Georgia businesses.

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Tennessee Workers’ Compensation Notice Changes NOT Mandatory

Although Tennessee revised its Workers’ Compensation notice, the revision does not require employers to replace the existing posting.

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Several labor law posting vendors are claiming that recent changes to the Tennessee Workers’ Compensation Notice require Tennessee employers to replace their existing notice. However, the GovDocs Research Department verified directly with the Tennessee Division of Workers’ Compensation (the issuing agency) that the changes do not require replacement of existing postings.

To be clear: the posting itself is still required for the following employers to display, but the new revisions are not considered mandatory:

  • Employers with more than four full-time or part-time workers.
  • All employers engaged in the mining and production of coal.
  • Workers in the construction industry.

Tennessee workplaces can choose to replace the postings to “err on the side of caution”, but GovDocs finds that many large employers want to reduce unnecessary spending on labor law posting compliance and to minimize confusion for location managers.

Because GovDocs serves North America’s largest employers with ongoing labor law posting compliance, our Research Department delivers follow-up and verification to a level our clients expect of a professional outsourced posting compliance provider.

What changed on the Tennessee Workers’ Compensation Notice?

  • Requirements for the panel of physicians has been updated to require only three physicians for back injuries (instead of four), in line with requirements for other injuries.
  • Inclusion of a chiropractor as part of the three physicians back injuries is optional, in line with requirements for other injuries.
  • Directs claimants to include names of physicians on state Form C-42: Agreement Between Employer/Employee Choice of Physician

Posting Changes: Mandatory Versus Non-Mandatory

When a change is considered mandatory, employers should replace earlier versions of the posting.

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If you’d like to learn more about the difference between mandatory and non-mandatory changes, please check our series What’s the Difference Between Mandatory and Non-Mandatory Changes?

Some vendors who rely on one-time poster purchases may claim that changes are mandatory even when they’re not – without verifying if the issuing agency considers the changes as critical enough for employers to replace their postings.

Moral of the story: Why overspend on labor law posting compliance?

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Oklahoma Workers Comp Death Claim Change

Even though Oklahoma released its Worker’s Compensation Notice just a few months ago, the Oklahoma Workers’ Compensation Commission recently issued a revised version.

The GovDocs Research Department has verified with the State that changes to the Notice are mandatory.

What Changed on the Oklahoma Workers’ Compensation Notice?

The most significant change now allows death claims to be filed within one year of the date of death. Previously the Notice had stated a two-year limit on death claims.

Additionally, the OWCC updated its phone number to 405-522-8760. The Notice also includes a web address to the OWCC web site.

Employers with locations in Oklahoma are required to display the revised version.

All Oklahoma Required Postings Available in One Format

The revised Oklahoma Workers’ Compensation Notice is included on the GovDocs Oklahoma poster packages, which include postings required for employers in Oklahoma:

  • Workers’ Compensation Notice
  • Your Rights – Minimum Wage Act (Statutory Language Poster)
  • Your Rights – Minimum Wage Act (Plain Language Poster)
  • Oklahoma Law Prohibits Discrimination in Employment
  • Child Labor Law
  • State Public Occupational Safety & Health
  • Unemployment Insurance
  • No Smoking

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Missouri Revised Unemployment Benefits Notice

Missouri revised its Notice to Workers Concerning Unemployment Benefits posting, which is required for all employers.

Changes to the notice included the addition of translation assistance information and a new revision date of May 2014.

Changes to the posting included verbiage regarding translation options.

The GovDocs Research Department confirmed this is a mandatory change per the issuing department in Missouri.

The revision follows recent updates to the Missouri Workers’ Compensation notice earlier in 2014.

The revised Missouri Notice to Workers Concerning Unemployment Benefits posting and other postings required for employers are available in the GovDocs Missouri laminated or electronic posting packages.

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South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Updates Posting

South Carolina made a mandatory change to the Workers’ Compensation posting. All employers operating under the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act are required to publicly post an Employer’s Notice of Being Subject to the Act (R67-301 A).

The posting details the steps employers and employees need to take in the event of a workplace accident and the subsequent claims process. Additionally, an employer must fill in contact information for the employer representative and the employer’s insurance company, third-party administrator, or designated individual if the employer has been approved to self-insure.

What Changed on the South Carolina Worker’s Comp Posting?

The changes include formatting updates, with the addition of Provider Name, Address and phone number blanks on the form for employers to fill in.

The revised Workers’ Compensation posting is included on the GovDocs South Carolina laminated and electronic poster packages, along with other workplace postings required for South Carolina employers.

Workers’ Comp Posting Requirements in the U.S.

U.S. states have differing requirements for workers’ compensation postings and for unemployment insurance postings. For a comprehensive list of states with special requirements for workers’ compensation and unemployment insurance postings, check here.

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Puerto Rico Labor Law Requirements 101

Puerto Rico has been a commonwealth of the United States since 1952, and the 3.7 million citizens of Puerto Rico also have automatic U.S. citizenship. The World Bank Group ranks Puerto Rico #40 on its list of countries rated for ease of doing business.

Employment law in Puerto Rico is covered both by U.S. labor law and Puerto Rico’s Constitution, which affirms the right of employees to choose their occupation, to have a reasonable minimum salary, a regular workday not exceeding eight hours, and to receive overtime compensation for work beyond eight hours.

The Puerto Rico Department of Labor and Human Resources is responsible for overseeing the legislation affecting workers and employment programs in Puerto Rico.

Puerto Rico Minimum Wage

The Minimum Wage, Vacation, and Sick Leave Act of Puerto Rico (Minimum Wage Act) was enacted in 1998. The Minimum Wage Act establishes that the federal minimum wage fixed by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) applies automatically to non-exempt employees in Puerto Rico who are covered by the FLSA. Currently, the U.S. federal minimum wage for non-exempt employees is set at $7.25 per hour. Employers not covered by the FLSA must pay a minimum wage to non-exempt employees of at least 70% of the applicable federal minimum wage.

Puerto Rico Overtime

Employees covered by the FLSA are entitled to overtime pay at a rate of 150 percent of their regular wage (commonly known as “time and a half”). If employees are not covered by the FLSA, they are entitled to a rate of two times their regular compensation rate for every hour worked beyond forty within a week.

Puerto Rico Christmas Bonus – ¡Feliz Navidad!

Known as el Bono de Navidad in Spanish, the Christmas Bonus is a mandatory annual payment to employees based on their earned wages for the year; however, Puerto Rico’s credit rating was recently lowered to “junk” status, and legislators are considering a reduction in the Puerto Rico Christmas Bonus as one measure to spur the economy.

For now, the Christmas Bonus rates are based on company size.

  • 15 or fewer employees: Bonus of 3 percent of employee’s earned wages
  • 16 or more employees: Bonus of 6 percent of employee’s earned wages

The bonus must be paid between December 1 and December 15 of each year.

No At-Will Employment in Puerto Rico

What do Puerto Rico and Montana have in common besides having Spanish names? Employees in Puerto Rico and Montana are not at-will employees, meaning that employees in Puerto Rico (and Montana) cannot be fired anytime, for any reason.

Employers in Puerto Rico (and Montana) should anticipate more difficulty than in other locations in the U.S. as Puerto Rico law favors employees.

Employers must demonstrate just cause for employee termination or risk paying a premium (una mesada) to the discharged employee that can be a severance package on steroids – including two months’ salary (minimum) plus progressive compensation depending on length of service.

How can employees in Puerto Rico be fired? Example of just cause for termination include:

  1. Documented pattern of improper or disorderly conduct.
  2. Measurable work performance issues (efficiency, quality, etc.).
  3. Violations of reasonable written rules.
  4. Closing of business operations.

Puerto Rico Labor Law Posting Requirements

In addition to required Federal labor law posters, employers in Puerto Rico are required to display a variety of work place postings to remain compliant with Puerto Rico labor law.

Required Federal Postings

  • Equal Employment Opportunity Is the Law
  • Federal Minimum Wage Notice
  • Employee Polygraph Protection Notice
  • Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
  • Job Safety and Health “It’s the Law!” (OSHA)
  • Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA)

Required Puerto Rico Commonwealth Postings

  • Working hours (29 L.P.R.A. § 283): Employers must display a printed notice of the:
  • Number of working hours required daily from employees for each day of the week.
  • Time to begin and end work.
  • Time to begin and end the period for taking food within the regular working hours.
  • Ley de Seguridad y Salud (Safety and Health Act)
  • SINOT Sistema de Compensasion por Accidentes del Trabajo (Workers’ Compensation)
  • Antidiscrimen “Discrimination Is Illegal”
  • Negociado De Normas de Trabajo

 Another Bonus: The National Anthem of Puerto Rico

Enjoy the Puerto Rico national anthem, La Borinqueña

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