There are so many new labor laws in the state of Illinois that it will take perhaps the rest of my blogs today to cover the laws put into effect recently by the state of Illinois legislature and their counterweight in the executive arm of the state government, Governor Rod R. Blagojevich.
Besides the other laws that we just covered, Governor Rod R. Blagojevich also helped to put into effect important new laws in the state of Illinois that affect that state’s workers’ comp system. And any employer knows how dear and near to their heart a state workers’ comp system can be. These laws dictate how employers have to treat their employers when they get hurt on the job and disabled and unable to return to work.
Under Governor Rod R. Blagojevich leadership, the Illinois workers’ comp system has been changed by increasing the benefits for injured workers. Governor Rod R. Blagojevich also has worked to pass labor laws to make the workers’ comp system simultaneously cheaper for employers. All the while, the new laws for workers’ comp under Governor Rod R. Blagojevich have also aimed at fighting workers’ comp fraud and cutting costs that way.
These make up changes to the Illinois workers’ comp system that represent the first major revision to the system since 20 years ago. And it wasn’t done by just Governor Rod R. Blagojevich and the state legislature. Governor Rod R. Blagojevich also involved meetings with business leaders and their counterparts in the labor unions and organizations. The whole process took months to work out, during the course of the last couple years of Governor Rod R. Blagojevich’s term.
Illinois represents one of a handful of states—including California and Texas—where legislators have undertaken a major reform of the workers’ comp system.
We’ve talked a lot so far about what happens when things go smoothly with the workers’ comp claim. This is when a worker gets injured on the job or doing a task that is related to their occupation. They then as they should report the injury to you promptly. They go to the medical staff that they are supposed to for your workers’ comp system. You fill out the necessary report of injury forms and send them to your insurance company and or the state workers’ comp administration. And then the checks start flowing to you and your employee for lost wages and medical care.
That’s if it goes smoothly. But let’s say that the situation doesn’t go well and you’re an Illinois employer with an angry employee who claims to have gotten hurt on the job and haven’t received their just do. You may run into employees even, for instance, who believe that it is the government’s role to pay them their workers’ comp money. Then they may be angry at not only you and the insurance company, but at the state of Illinois too.
If this is the case, they may want to take you to trial if they are not happy with how the workers’ comp system has treated them. In Illinois, they are perfectly able to take you to workers’ comp court. The court runs on a two month cycle for individual workers’ comp claims. That means that once an injury is reported for your employee, two months from then they can go in front of an arbitrator.
At the arbitrator’s call, you or your employee can request a formal trial, or you can all come together as parties under an agreement. If nothing is agreed to, then the claim goes on as is, and another two months passes before there is another arbitration. This whole process can go on for three years, after which the case is either dropped or continued if needs be.
Now let’s move on to the unique aspects of the Illinois workers’ comp system, and let’s do so to highlight some of the other things that employers must do under the system, besides just buy workers comp insurance. After all, perhaps there are employers reading this not only in Illinois but in other states across the country. That’d make this blog interesting for them, for you—for everybody!
Anyway, as in most states, in Illinois, employers must obtain workers’ comp insurance to protect their employees in case they should get hurt or sick while at work. The insurance pays for the workers’ medical care to repair the injury and help them heal, but it also covers the costs of that employee staying at home to recover and not working. This compensation typically covers lost wages for the employee.
But some of the things that employers in Illinois have to do under the workers’ comp laws there include that they must post a notice in each of their work sites that tells their workers exactly who their workers’ comp insurance company is. This poster, which we’ve talked about here at this blog many times before, also gives employees the knowledge about what their rights are under the workers’ comp law, and what they should do if they get injured on the job.
The Illinois workers’ comp law also requires that employers keep track of all work related injuries at their work sites. When one of these injuries occur, the employer must also report it to the state workers’ comp Commission if the worker missed more than three days because of the injury or illness.
What’s more, Illinois employers cannot harass, fire, refuse to take back, or in any way pester or discriminate against employees who file a workers’ comp claim. And as we’ve seen in other states, employers cannot also charge their workers for this insurance coverage or any of the compensation.
There are no Illinois laws governing how much or even whether an employer must pay any mileage rate for business travel. Most employers do pay travel expenses, including reimbursement for miles driven. The rate may be higher or lower than that of which the Federal government sets forth or which the state grants its employees and persons traveling on official state business.
The mileage reimbursement rate for the use of a personal vehicle while traveling on State of Illinois business is in accordance with the federal government rate. The federal government rate is the rate used by the IRS.
The mileage reimbursement rate is established each year on July 1. The new rate is set to match that of the federal government. As of July 1, 2006 the rate was increased to $.445 per mile from $.405. Interestingly, if the rate increases during the fiscal year the rate will not be changed until the following July, however if the rate should decrease it will be changed immediately.
The guidelines apply to state employees, including public institutions of higher learning, except community colleges. The Illinois Board of Education was included in February 2004. They will be reimbursed per mile for the use of personal vehicles while on state business.
When traveling on official state business, the guidelines set forth in the Governors Travel Control Board travel guide for State Employees. I have included here a summary of the basic council rules for business related travel.
All travel shall be by the most economical mode of transportation available considering travel time, costs, and work requirements. Modes of transportation include the usual means, such as trains, buses, taxicabs, airplanes, automobiles. Travel arrangements made by plane, boat or train must be the least costly reasonable alternative. All travel must be by the most direct route. When calculating mileage, distances between destinations are as shown on the Illinois Highway Map published by the Secretary of State.
Employers are required to reimburse injured employees for medical related travel expenses according to the Workers Compensation Commission. The commission does not follow the current IRS guidelines; instead the Governors Travel Control Board sets the mileage rates for state offices.