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Wash. state bills seek fair access to a stay-at-work program



Lawmakers in Washington state have introduced a bill designed to create fair access to the state’s workers’ compensation program to stay on the job, which was implemented to reduce long-term disability.

House Bill 1137, which was pre-filed Thursday, aims to allow employers to offer off-site, light duty, return-to-work opportunities to injured workers.

Supporters of the measure say current law creates inequity because small employers are less likely to have suitable light jobs and because frontline workers in small businesses are less likely to have access to light telecommuting.

The bills state that access to return to work is more urgent for lower wage earners, many of whom are frontline workers, and that the COVID-1

9 pandemic has “highlighted the particularly limited and inequitable access to return to work among frontline and remote workers.”

The bill also amends current statute to allow employers to offer easy return to work off-site with an approved non-profit organization as long as the employer remains responsible for any new injuries or occupational diseases that occur while the worker is off-site, easy work.

Washington state’s stay-at-work program was created to reduce long-term disability and the cost of injuries by encouraging employers to offer workers transitional opportunities for return to work.

If signed by the governor, the new law would take effect on January 1, 2024.


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