Maine: Governor signs bill to protect construction workers under workers' comp
The governor recently signed Legislative Document 1456, An Act To Ensure that Construction Workers are Protected by Workers' Compensation Insurance. Under the new law, a person performing construction work at a job site is presumed to be an employee of the hiring agent for the purpose of workers' comp, unless the individual meets the definition of a construction subcontractor.
"This bill is one important step in resolving employee misclassification, the impact of which is felt among Maine workers, employers and the general public," Baldacci said. "Our workers lose vital employment protections and our employers are put at a competitive disadvantage in the marketplace as they subsidize business costs for businesses that misclassify. This bill balances the playing field in these areas for workers' compensation."
The new rules go into effect Jan. 1, 2010.
Additional comp bills.
As the Maine Legislature adjourned its 2009 session, the American Insurance Association applauded lawmakers for making progress on two other workers' comp-related bills.
John Murphy, AIA's Northeast region vice president, called Legislative Document 176 a "positive development for the industry." The bill, which Baldacci signed into law, provides that if the assessments collected by the Maine Workers' Compensation Board exceed its annual target amount by more than 10 percent, the overage would be applied to reduce subsequent assessments on insured employers.
"LD 176 clarifies how the Workers' Compensation Board should handle situations where it collects more than it should have," Murphy said. "It is a common-sense piece of legislation that will eliminate what had been a costly and inefficient system."
Another measure supported by AIA was an effort to create a fraud bureau within the Maine Bureau of Insurance. Although Legislative Document 1285 received an "ought not to pass" vote from the state's Insurance and Financial Services Committee earlier this year, the committee expressed an interest to meet with various parties over the next several months to determine how a fraud bureau could be properly structured and funded.
"AIA supports efforts to create a fraud bureau within the Bureau of Insurance," Murphy said. "As fraud continues to exact a significant cost from insurers and their policyholders, we are eager to be involved in these discussions going forward."
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August 3, 2009
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