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WORKERS’ COMPENSATION CHANGES EFFECTIVE AUGUST 28th

Jefferson City, MO – Senate Bill 1 and 130 dealing with the Missouri workers’ compensation law, that was passed during the 2004-2005 legislative session and signed by Governor Matt Blunt, goes into effect Sunday, August 28, 2005.

The new law brings comprehensive reform to the Missouri workers’ compensation system, the most significant reform in over 10 years. Some essential changes in the law include:

· Workplace accident or occupational exposure to be the “prevailing factor” in causing both the medical condition and disability;

· The workers’ compensation law shall be interpreted strictly without giving the benefit of doubt to any party;

· Increased penalties against those who commit fraud under the Missouri’s workers’ compensation system that could result in either a class A misdemeanor or a class D felony and a fine;

· A fifty percent reduction in benefits for an employee who sustains an injury in conjunction with the use of alcohol or nonprescribed controlled drugs, in violation of the employer’s rule or policy relating to a drug-free workplace or with the use of alcohol or nonprescribed drugs in the workplace; and

· Placing greater emphasis on workplace safety. An employee’s failure to use safety devices provided by the employer or failure to follow safety rules shall result in a reduction of benefits between 25 and 50 percent.

“The changes made to the workers’ compensation system will protect employers from fraudulent claims, while preserving the integrity of the system so that rights of injured workers are still protected,” said Tom Deuschle, director of the Missouri Department of Labor and Industrial Relations. “I commend Pat Secrest, director of the Division of Workers’ Compensation and her staff for their efforts and dedication to implement the changes to the law in order to respond to the concerns of the stakeholders.”

The Missouri Department of Labor will work with lawmakers during the Special Session to correct a drafting error that occurred in the original bill signed earlier this year. The error was a result of language unintentionally kept from an earlier version.

For detailed information regarding the changes to the workers’ compensation law, please visit our website at www.dolir.mo.gov/wc or call us at (800) 775-2667 for employees or (888) 837-6069 for employers. All employers will need an updated version of the workers’ compensation poster after August 28, 2005. Posters may be requested by emailing your company name and mailing address to: Pat.Secrest@dolir.mo.gov .

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