We had a deal.
The Return-to-Work Fund established in 2012 was a key element in the nearly unanimously supported Workers' Compensation reforms. The fund was created as a compromise between employers and labor with the intent of helping offset lost earnings and earning potential suffered by injured workers who are unable to return to their jobs.
Now it appears some of the supporting organizations are reneging on their word, opposing our legislative fix on the grounds that they don't want all of the mandated $120 million per year fund distributed to qualified injured workers.
We strongly disagree and believe these injured workers deserve a fair share.
A study by RAND found that "all workers who don't return to their at-injury employment suffer a disproportionate earnings loss."
What's more, according to the most recent RAND study, "...compared to other permanently disabled workers, Return-to-Work Supplement recipients are a particularly vulnerable group on average. They come from lower-wage jobs with a higher risk of turnover, live in communities where they could face higher barriers to accessing support, and tend to experience more severe injuries with longer durations."
That's why we sponsored Assembly Bill 553 to ensure the Return to Work program funds get fully disbursed each year. By creating an automatic system for eligible workers, we can greatly increase the number of recipients and help supplement their lost earnings from being injured.
We will continue to uphold our end of the deal and we thank the California Applicants' Attorneys Association for supporting this bill and for your efforts in protecting injured workers.