Florida Workers’ Compensation Regulatory Update
Feb 7, 2017
Below is an update on recent Florida workers’ compensation regulatory activities:
Fraud Status Report
Florida’s Division of Investigative and Forensic Services, Bureau of Worker’s Compensation Fraud and the Florida Division of Workers’ Compensation Bureau of Compliance issued a joint report summarizing their respective efforts and activities in combating workers’ compensation fraud and employer non-compliance. The July 1, 2015 – June 30, 2016 report can be viewed by clicking here.
Coverage Assistance Program Tool Now Available
The Florida Division of Workers’ Compensation has published an online tool that can help employers seeking coverage through a workers’ compensation policy. The Coverage Assistance Program allows employers to enter their primary class code or business description and search for carriers actively insuring those job classes in Florida. The search will also provide a count of the number of active policies. While this information does not guarantee coverage will be provided, regulators describe it as helpful for employers and their agents who are trying to locate workers’ compensation insurance.
To access the Coverage Assistance Program, click here.
Maximum Workers’ Compensation Rate, Effective January 1, 2017
The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity has determined the statewide average weekly wage paid by employers subject to the Florida Re-employment Assistance Program Law to be $886.46 for the four calendar quarters ending June 30, 2016.
Subsection 440.12(2), F.S. (2016) expressly provides that, for injuries occurring on or after August 1, 1979, the weekly compensation rate shall be equal to 100 percent of the statewide average weekly wage, adjusted to the nearest dollar, and that the average weekly wage determined by the Department of Economic Opportunity for the four calendar quarters ending each June 30 shall be used in determining the maximum weekly compensation rate with respect to injuries occurring in the calendar year immediately following.
Accordingly, the maximum weekly compensation rate for work-related injuries and illnesses occurring on or after January 1, 2017 shall be $886.00.
To view this information in Informational Bulletin DFS-03-2016, click here.
Three-Member Panel 2017 Biennial Report Published
The Florida Division of Workers’ Compensation’s Three-Member Panel met on January 4 to consider its 2017 Biennial Report, as well as the Division’s Annual Report on the resolution of health care provider medical reimbursement disputes and activities (2016) conducted pursuant to s. 440.13(8), F.S.
To view those documents, click here.
No Hearing Requested for Expert Medical Advisor Rules
No hearing was held on February 7, 2017 on proposed changes to Rules 69L-30.002, 69L-30.003, 69L-30.004, 69L-30.006, 69L-30.007, and 69L-30.010, F.A.C., because none was requested. The proposed amendments reflect statutory changes allowing Judges of Compensation Claims to appoint Expert Medical Advisors, to update the address for the Web site on which application for Expert Medical Advisor certification is made, and to add final orders finding that a physician engaged in overutilization, as defined in section 440.13(8), F.S. to the list of final orders which disqualify a physician from eligibility for Expert Medical Advisor certification.
Records Maintenance and Penalty Calculation Worksheet Rule Hearing Scheduled for February 16
A Notice of Development of Rulemaking has been issued for proposed Rules 69L-6.015 and 69L-6.027, F.A.C. relating to Record Maintenance and Production Requirements for Employers and the Penalty Calculation Worksheet. The notice provides that, if requested in writing, a Rule Hearing will be held on Thursday, February 16, 2017, at 9:30 A.M. (ET) in Tallahassee.
Chapter 2016-56, Laws of Florida amended subsection 440.05(10), F.S. to delete the requirement that any corporation with exempt officers engaged in the construction industry must maintain written statements of those exempted persons acknowledging each such individual’s exempt status.
The proposed amendment to Rule 69L-6.015, F.A.C. will also delete this requirement from the Rule. Chapter 2016-56, Laws of Florida also included legislative changes to the penalty requirements in subsection 440.107(7), F.S.
The changes include:
(i) a 25 percent penalty reduction for non-compliant employers who have not previously been issued a stop-work order or penalty assessment order and who timely provide requested business records; and
(ii) a reduction of the imputed payroll multiplier from twice the statewide average weekly wage to the pre-2014 level of one and one-half times the statewide average weekly wage.
The proposed amendment to Rule 69L-6.027, F.A.C. would incorporate these changes on the Penalty Calculation Worksheet.
The Florida Division of Workers’ Compensation is closely following the activities associated with the recent First District Court of Appeal and Florida Supreme Court rulings. During the upcoming 2017 Legislative Session, laws impacting the workers’ compensation system may be addressed, therefore the Division will monitor any forthcoming changes prior to engaging in rulemaking activities or procedural changes related to these topics.
Hyperlinks to the court cases are below:
- Castellanos v. Next Door Company, Florida Supreme Court Case No. SC13-2082
- Westphal v. City of St. Petersburg, Florida Supreme Court Case No. SC13-1930 & 1976
- Miles v. City of Edgewater, 1st DCA Case 1D15-0165
- Ramirez v. Jorda Enterprises, Inc., et al., SC15-1296 link to docket
Should you have any questions or comments, please contact Colodny Fass.
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