To transition their workers’ compensation system to a worker-centred basis, industries must tackle the possible considerations arising from the introduced amendments.

FREMONT, CA: The worker’s compensation landscape continues to evolve, demanding companies shift systems to a more worker-centred model. In a few countries, the worker agenda became central to the government’s recent election platform, including a statement supporting an increase in benefit entitlement from 85 to 90 per cent of average net earnings.

It is high time for countries to rethink what should be the major considerations for worker’s compensation for the coming years.

Return to the Workplace and Remote Work

Several workplace surveys have highlighted that many workers support remote work, especially work from home. The typical application of occupational health and safety legislation was considerably eased during the pandemic and the need for remote work locations. Health and safety audits at remote work locations could not move along with established workplace inspections.

With the continuation of flexible work arrangements, the question arises of how government officials will administer safety legislation and regulations.

Medical services and Telemedicine

Medical services shifted to an online model during the pandemic, including enhanced telemedicine. This provided the advantage of easier access for patients to health care providers and helped overrun health facilities and patients who faced difficulty in travelling distance to visit physicians. Telemedicine also assisted in offering telepsychiatry and teletherapy. This observed an increase in the use of company-paid employee assistance programs. However, it did not consider concerns for those with no family physician. Insurers characterised this change as medical cost inflation.

With telemedicine continuation, it is necessary to discern whether a replacement for in-person examinations and assessments is consistent with the adjudication requirements of workers’ compensation structures.

Mental Health Challenges

Even before the pandemic outbreaks, people had experienced significant mental health challenges. The workers’ compensation system responded by extending benefit entitlement on a presumptive basis to first responders and other appointed workers. With rising mental health issues, the question is whether presumptive legislation will continue or curtail due to the COVID impact and if presumptive legislation will be embraced for communicable diseases and future outbreaks.

Worker Classification

The definition of the worker drives workers’ compensation systems as companies undergo transformations and evolve. Government responses introduce partial measures and changes to employment legislation. Currently, a blend of classifications covers workers, learners and students, workers, dependent contractors, independent operators, executive officers and collaborators, and gig and platform workers. This confused state should be addressed fundamentally to introduce a worker-centred model.

As seen above, several questions and confusions need answers in various industry sectors. The pandemic resulted in drastic changes in working operations, and businesses should tackle its impacts and how they will redefine their idea of working in the coming years. Therefore, the shift to a worker-centred workers’ compensation model includes much work in the background.