Rep. Joe Don McGaugh (R-Carrollton), the House handler of SB 66, sponsored by Sen. Dave Schatz (R-Sullivan), led the House in passing the bill with amendments back to the Senate. If the Senate adopts the provisions added by the House, the bill would go to the Governor’s desk. The amendments to the bill were pro-employer amendments.
The bill addresses workers’ compensation retaliation by requiring an employee to prove an employer was motivated by the fact the worker had a work comp claim when taking an adverse action against the employee. Today, the employee only has to prove the work comp claim was a contributing factor in the employer’s decision. The current low standard shifts the burden of proof back to the employer, leading to costly litigation, even when an employer has dismissed the employee for cause.
The bill also:
- Defines when “maximum medical improvement” has been achieved, triggering final settlement of a work comp claim;
- Allows a reduction of work comp benefits when the claimant’s illegal drug use is proven by an employer;
- Provides for termination of disability benefits if an employer has provided accommodations for the employee and the employee voluntarily separates from employment;
- Clarifies the definition of “dependent” for the purposes of survivor work comp death benefits; and,
- Allows individual shareholders with at least 40% ownership in an S Corporation to voluntarily reject workers’ compensation coverage.
The changes added in the House must be accepted by the Senate, or the differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill will need to be resolved before the bill advances to the governor’s desk.
Associated Industries of Missouri has supported many provisions that were included in the House version of the bill and will be working to pass the bill before the session ends in 3 weeks.