Every state in this country (Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, etc.) has their own independent set of laws that govern compensation of workers injured or killed while working on the job. The federal government also has a series of federal statutes and federal regulations that help federal workers hurt or suffering fatal injuries while working on the job for a federal employer.
These laws have been on the books for a long time now; in fact, Alabama and Georgia passed state workers’ compensation laws as far back as 1855. Most people are well aware of their workers’ compensation coverage as it applies to their job and work place.
However, there has never been any uniformity of these laws — each state makes its own decisions, as does the federal government. This means that some workers may be better protected doing the same job in one state rather than another. It also means that states trying to attract business (and jobs) to their area may use lower workers’ compensation expense as a way to attract companies to their locale (we’re cheaper!).
Federal Workers’ Compensation Program Is a Set of Laws Protecting Federal Workers Hurt on the Job
The Federal Employees’ Compensation Act (FECA) is the federal law that provides workers’ compensation to workers injured on the job while working for the federal government.
Under the FECA program, several other workers’ compensation laws work to protect federal workers on the job in specific kinds of work or types of labor that are particularly hazardous. These include the following programs which are overseen by the Department of Labor’s Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs:
- Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Program
- Federal Black Lung Program
- Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program
- Protecting Our Workers and Ensuring Reemployment (POWER) Initiative
Congress Considering Labor Department’s Proposed Reform to Federal Workers Compensation in 2013
This year, the Department of Labor forwarded a proposal to change federal workers’ compensation laws to Congress. As explained in a news release by the House of Representative’s Education and the Workplace Committee’s Subcommittee on Workforce Protection, a hearing was held in July 2013.
The proposal from the Labor Department and its Proposed Reforms to the FECA Program can be read here, in testimony given at the hearing by a representative of the Congressional Research Service.
In sum, President Obama is looking to reduce costs by changing benefits under FECA including the following:
- changing FECA retirement to a “retirement annuity-level benefit” – no longer getting benefits after they reach retirement age;
- changing FECA waiting periods so the Labor Department has more time to “reduce improper payments.”