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Changes in workers’ compensation laws affect employee benefits

The nation has kept an eye on the 2013 Oklahoma workers’ compensation reform law as it wound its way through the justice system. In September 2016 the Tulsa World notes that the Oklahoma Supreme Court struck down parts of the law that allowed companies to provide benefit plans on their own while choosing to “opt out” of the typical workers’ compensation plans most other states have in place currently. While there are political implications, many workers’ day-to-day lives are potentially affected by these changes as well, and not everyone likes the changes.

This controversial law still remains largely in place, although News 9 reports that “38 provisions of the law have been found either unconstitutional, inoperable, or invalid,” and while businesses are happy with many of the reforms, Oklahoma workers havelost a significant amount of compensation in the new system. Previously, injured employees would go to court to determine their compensation. The new system is administrative, and there are caps on the amount of temporary and permanent disability one is able to receive per week. Both systems depend on correctly filing documentation. 

However, many businesses are pleased with these changes, as costs have been lowered for business owners. Other proponents of the administrative system applaud it for being faster than the court system and having fewer delays for those who are waiting on their benefits. Although this law is controversial amongst some Oklahoma workers and attorneys alike, it does appear that it will remain one the books for the time being. 

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