Occasionally, someone says something I find noteworthy. In today’s post, the Oklahoma Workers’ Compensation Commission doesn’t mince words regarding a controversial workers’ comp law.
Option legislation is a growing workers’ comp alternative that allows employers to opt out of traditional, state-based workers’ comp coverage. In its place, employers create their own benefit plan. Proponents assert that the option allows employers to save money while securing the same or better benefits for workers. Opponents are skeptical of these claims, and raise concerns that workers may be unfairly denied benefits.
In Oklahoma – one of two states that currently have an option law on the books – a case brought before the state’s Workers’ Compensation Commission found that the option legislation was unconstitutional. The commission ruled that because the definition of “injury” differs between an employer option plan and the state’s Administrative Workers’ Compensation Act, workers were not treated equally across the state. Any suggestion otherwise is, as the commission calls it, a mirage:
“The benefit plans permitted to be used to opt-out establish a dual system under which injured workers are not treated equally. The appearance of equal treatment under the dual system is like a water mirage on the highway that disappears upon closer inspection.” – Oklahoma Workers’ Compensation Commission
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