Workers Comp Restructuring on 2013 Horizon

Workers compensation is set to be debated in 2013. Image courtesy TN . gov

Workers compensation is set to be debated in 2013. Image courtesy TN . gov

Business owners in Tennessee are counting on 2013 as the year to overhaul the state’s workers compensation system. They complain that it’s confusing and unfair, and the governor says he’s listening.

Roofing company owner Steve Griffith of Nashville has a common complaint. He believes his salesmen should need bare minimum workers comp coverage in case they get hurt, but state auditors disagree.

“They are trying to categorize a salesman or a person who may occasionally get up on a roof to do a measurement the same as someone who is up there eight hours a day, they’re trying to categorize them as the same risk, and that is not the same risk.”

The difference in cost is huge, Griffith says. Premiums for roofers are some of the most expensive and run more than 30 percent of their total salary.

The state labor department recommended dramatic changes in a 130-page report released in August. Consultants suggest setting up an administrative system for settling disputes. Right now, workers comp is handled in court, making Tennessee unique among the states.

In the last session of the General Assembly, lawmakers made a dozen tweaks related to workers comp. Governor Bill Haslam has indicated more fundamental change is needed and that he plans to propose legislation of his own.

The consultant’s report on workers comp found that Tennessee’s rates are closer to average than many business owners would like to think. Here’s a link.

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