As we approached Wednesday’s floor cut-off, several employment law bills continued to move forward with amendments. One bright spot is the personnel file bill, which is dead for this session.
SB 5217 Ergonomics – This week, the House approved SB 5217, which repeals the voter-approved ban on rulemaking on musculoskeletal injuries. It authorizes the Dept. of Labor and Industries to promulgate one rule per year for an industry or sector with more than twice the rate of musculoskeletal injuries compared to the state’s overall rate. The bill includes WR-supported amendments to delay rule implementation for three years and to exclude sub-sectors of an industry that are not meeting the threshold rate of injuries. The intent is to focus on those sectors and businesses incurring a high rate of injuries and not sweep in those operating safely.
HB 1068 Workers’ right to record Independent Medical Exams – the Senate approved HB 1068, which allows an injured worker to videotape an independent medical examination (IME). WR has repeatedly pointed out that finding physicians to conduct IME examinations is already challenging. Even L&I expressed concerns that this new will reduce the number of IME physicians and cause delays in progress for workers. The Senate added WR-supported amendments requiring the injured worker to provide a 7-day notice of intent to videotape an examination, prohibit workers from posting the recording to social media, and eliminating a workers representative from taping an examination.
HB 1521 Workers’ compensation duties for self-insured – the Senate approved HB 1521, which originally added a new duty of “good faith and fair dealing” for third-party administrators in dealing with injured workers on behalf of self-insured employers. Significantly, the bill added a new private right of action, putting third-party administrators at risk of lawsuits. The bill was initiated in response to a dispute between local firefighters and one municipality; however, as drafted HB 1521 included all public and private self-insured employers and their third-party administrators. The Senate amended the bill to limit the bill to only municipal employers, defined those employers, and eliminated the risk of a private right of action. The House must now approve the changes made by the Senate.
HB 1320 Personnel files – which required employers to provide an employee’s full personnel record within 14 days, or be at risk of lawsuits, failed to pass the Ways and Means Committee this week and is considered “dead” for the session. WR has testified multiple times over two sessions on this bill, and we expect it will return in 2024.