On Thursday, November 9, 2006, Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell signed legislation into law that brings changes to the Pa. Workers’ Compensation Act.
The changes include the creation of an Uninsured Employers Guaranty Fund, an increase in the minimum amount of compensation a worker can receive, guidelines for the Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board and a code of ethics for its board members.
The Uninsured Employers Guaranty Fund is being created to compensate injured employees in the event their employer fails to maintain workers’ compensation coverage. The minimum amount an injured worker will be eligible to receive for total disability or death will be increased to $100 per week.
The revisions in the new law outline the internal procedures for the appeal board and providing a code of ethics for appeal board members. The legislation will also require workers’ compensation judges to include a mandatory mediation conference as part of the trial schedule.
The Department of Labor will be not be permitted to assign more than 75 percent of petitions from a county to one workers’ compensation judge, nor will counsel fees be allowed to exceed 20 percent of the amount awarded by the judge or agreed to by settlement.
This legislation unanimously passed the Pa. House and State Senate. The provisions relating to resolution hearings and the appeals board are effective immediately and the other provisions become effective in 60 days, according to the Governor’s office.
SOURCE: Philadelphia Business Journal- November 10, 2006