When it was revealed that Illinois had among the most expensive workers’ compensation systems, employers across the state clamored for change. Most of the changes suggested would restrict the rights of injured workers to obtain full compensation and see the doctor of their choosing. The reform enacted by the State of Illinois did little to protect workers, but it seems it may not have gone far enough for some. After the CEO of Caterpillar Inc. criticized the business climate in Illinois, the fate of the victims of work injuries may once again be placed in jeopardy.
Missouri is currently considering massive changes to its workers’ compensation system. The changes would force certain types of workplace injury claims out of the workers’ comp system and into local courts. They would also cap the amount of money that could be obtained by workers in certain cases. The rights of injured workers in Illinois might be affected by laws in Indiana, Missouri and other states which make it easier for businesses to avoid covering their employees when accidents happen.
For now, no significant changes to the Illinois workers’ compensation system are being seriously considered. That could change if employers begin to leave the state in large numbers. While many factors play a part in how attractive a state is to an employer, workers’ compensation might be the easiest target for those looking to make an impact. Workers’ rights are often the first thing to be sacrificed when the economy is suffering.
For now, workers everywhere should be aware that their rights are always at stake. Suffering a work injury is a terrible ordeal. There are better ways to address our business climate than to punish a person who has already been made a victim once.
Source: Pantagraph, “Quinn defends Illinois after Caterpillar CEO blasts jobs climate,” by Janaye Nealy, 12 February 2012