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Workers' comp reform bill could benefit state

News out of the state capitol indicates that legislative Democrats in Colorado intend to provide further reforms to protect worker safety in 2014. The efforts, which will reform workers' compensation rules, are likely to make the state even more attractive to a variety of businesses, many of which have chosen Colorado as home because of low insurance rates. Business and labor leaders will be consulted before any major changes or bills are introduced.

Labor leaders in the state say that many workers' compensation rules in Colorado still favor employers. In particular, politicians say they want to change regulations that would limit workers' compensation for employees who broke safety rules. Currently, those people's settlements are automatically halved if they are found to have violated safety provisions. Further, workers are restricted to choosing between only two employer-approved physicians for their injury treatment. Expanding that number would be greatly beneficial for employees, as they could see a doctor they truly prefer. Finally, a large number of regulations require that workers actually leave the company before they can receive workers' compensation payments.

Reform efforts had been initiated in 2013, but other issues pushed workers' compensation to the back burner. Now, the changes have been prioritized for next year's legislative session, much to the delight of labor representatives throughout the state. Union representatives say the legal modifications would allow workers to get back to their jobs as quickly as possible, benefitting both employers and the people who staff their companies. Employers generally agree that the current system is helpful, but they are willing to negotiate for provisions that would benefit both workers and their companies.

In many cases, workers are able to easily receive the financial compensation they need and deserve for their on-the-job injuries. These proposed changes would make that process even smoother. Still, some employers resist paying out workers' compensation claims for any number of unfair reasons. Workers deserve access to fair payment for injuries they suffer at work. These changes may improve the system for all Colorado employees.

Source: www.bizjournals.com, "Colorado Dems are leading talks on workers' comp reform bill" Ed Sealover, Nov. 22, 2013

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