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Workers Might Suffer under Michigan Workers' Comp Reform Bill

Michigan legislators have introduced House Bill 5002, an attempt to reform the state's almost 100 year old workers' compensation laws. Some of the bill's proposed reforms to Michigan workers' compensation benefits would have a serious impact on workers throughout the state.

Proposed Reforms

House Bill 5002 contains proposed changes to the way that an employer and workers' compensation insurer can calculate partial disability benefits. Under the current system, if an injured employee does return to a job but makes a lower wage than what he or she previously earned, workers' compensation benefits made up part of the difference.

This provision only applies if the employee actually returns to work, however. If the employee cannot find a job to which he or she can return, he or she still earns temporary total workers' compensation benefits.

The bill proposes to allow employers and insurers to determine when an employee can return to work and calculate benefits based on a hypothetical job to which an employee could return, even if the employee cannot find work that accommodates his or her injury. The bill also allows employers to terminate an employee for fault reasons, which would make the employee ineligible to receive workers' compensation benefits.

The proposed law prohibits an employee from treating with their own doctor for the first 45 days. Under current rules, an injured worker would only have to wait ten days before seeking treatment from a physician of their choice.

Status of the Bill

Legislators in the House have passed the bill, and it is now in the hands of the state Senate. If they also approve the changes, the bill would head to the governor for signing.

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