- Defines noncompliance, payroll report, subcontractor, and uninsured within the definitions section.
- Adds an additional civil penalty for a contractor who uses the services of an uninsured employer under a cease and desist order.
- Establishes a penalty of $5,000 for employers that offset premiums against an employee’s wages.
- Provides WSI the ability to require payroll reporting more frequently than annually.
- Requires payroll reporting to be done electronically.
- Provides WSI the ability to send electronic billing notification.
- Extends liability to any contractor for utilizing an uninsured subcontractor.
- Establishes an administrative penalty for an employer who willfully discharges an employee for seeking workers compensation benefits.
- Outlines the penalties for an employer who is uninsured for failing to secure coverage.
- Outlines the penalties for an employer who is noncompliant.
- Increases penalties for an employer failing to provide information from $2,000 to $5,000.
- Amends the combined benefit threshold for partial disability benefit recipients to a percentage of gross wages rather than net wages.
- Establishes parameters for medical non-compliance and a process for when disability and vocational rehabilitation benefits can be discontinued for medical non-compliance.
- A concurrent resolution to recognize Monday, March 4, 2019, as "North Dakota Workforce Safety & Insurance Day" and to congratulate North Dakota Workforce Safety & Insurance on its 100th anniversary.
- Expands eligibility for the scholarship fund to include children up through age twenty-six.
- Allows WSI to provide information to other state and federal agencies.
- Provides WSI discretion in implementing rehabilitation pilot programs and alters the pilot program reporting requirements.
- Clarifies and expands the eligibility of children that can utilize the educational revolving loan fund.
- Provides clarification for determining compensation benefits for volunteer firefighter, emergency or disaster volunteers, volunteer health practitioners, and community emergency response team members.
- Increases penalties WSI may assess from $2,000 to $5,000 for each premium period the employer was uninsured.
- Clarifies when employment has significant contacts with this state to include when an employer hires employees in this state for work in this state.
- Defines chronic opioid therapy.
- Establishes qualifications for payment of chronic opioid therapy.
- Provides procedures for prescribers of long-term opioid therapy.
- At the organization's or prescriber's request, provides for random drug testing for the presence of prescribed and illicit substances for injured employees on chronic opioid therapy.
- Allows WSI to consider federal wages when determining the average weekly wage of a National Guard member injured while serving on state active duty.
- Enables WSI to consider non-covered wages received post-injury by an injured worker when WSI is determining vocational rehabilitation options or entitlement to disability benefits.
- Allows WSI to recoup any benefits paid should a person seeking benefits because of the death of an employee receive benefits from another state for the same injury.
- Provides for a discontinuation of benefits for those incarcerated in excess of 180 consecutive days and a suspension of benefits for those incarcerated between 3 and 180 days.
- Provides for the advance collection of premiums from accounts with a higher risk of default.
- Increases penalties for noncomplying employers.
- Provides for the recovery of delinquent premiums, penalties, and interest from compensation payments in the event the injured worker was also the employer in default.
- Clarifies the determination of benefits and premiums for emergency volunteer health practitioners.
- Increases the maximum amount payable for vehicles and vehicle adaptation expenses from $100,000 to $150,000.
- Expands eligibility for the scholarship program to include spouses and children of the catastrophically injured and to include those who have successfully completed a retraining program.
- Increases the annual cap that the organization can award in scholarships from $300,000 to $500,000.
- Increases the maximum scholarship amount payable per applicant from $4,000 per year to $10,000 per year.
- Expands eligibility for the educational revolving loan fund to include spouses and children of the catastrophically injured and to include spouses and children of those deemed permanently and totally disabled.
- Allows for the establishment of a vocational rehabilitation grant program to provide grants to organizations assisting injured workers with skill upgrades and educational opportunities.
- Limits total grant awards to no more than $100,000 per year.
- Provides up to two years of benefits for those workers injured within two years of their presumed retirement date.
- Reduces the threshold for percentage of whole body impairment to qualify for a Permanent Partial Impairment (PPI) award from 16% to 14%.
- Increases permanent partial impairment awards (multipliers) within the 14% through 25% impairment levels.
- Increases PPI benefit rate from 33.33% to 35% of State’s Average Weekly Wage (SAWW).
- Requires the independent performance evaluation conducted by workers’ compensation industry experts to be conducted every four years rather than every two years.
- Provides for background checks for certain, potential WSI employees and contractors who may have access to confidential information.
- Increases the maximum amount payable for real estate modifications from $50,000 to $75,000.
- Raised the maximum disability benefit from 110% to 125% of the state's average weekly wage (SAWW).
- Increased the lifetime death benefit cap from $250,000 to $300,000; burial expenses increased from $6,500 to $10,000, one-time payments for spouse and dependent children increased from $1,200 to $2,500 for spouses and from $400 to $800 per dependent child.
- Raised the child dependency allowance from $10 to $15 per week per child.
- Shortened the waiting period for eligible injured workers of supplementary benefits (COLAs) for pre-1/1/2006 total disability claims from 7 to 3 years.
- Provided injured workers payment for "artificial members" such as eyeglasses, contact lenses, dental braces and orthopedic braces if an injury occurs and damages those prescriptive devices.
- Allowed WSI to extend an additional 20 weeks to the current 104-week limit for those injured workers in vocational retraining programs.
- Expanded the categories for injured workers within the vocational rehabilitation hierarchy that would be eligible for up to two months of job search benefits.
- Added a permanent partial impairment schedule award for the partial loss of an injured worker's eyesight.
- Provided an injured worker with attorney fees and costs for a review of their claim after successfully completing their review at the newly named Decision Review Office (formerly the Office of Independent Review). Attorney fees are capped at $500 and costs are capped at $150.
- Transparency in grant program—allowed for disclosure of employer grant information and reporting of grant information.
- Established parameters for when the reserves and surpluses fall outside of the 120%-140% range.
- Established that premium rates will be determined actuarially.
- The selected statewide average premium rate level change may not deviate by more than 5 percentage points from the statewide actuarial indicated rate.
- Changed the WSI Office of Independent Review (OIR) to Decision Review Office (DRO).
- Provided that a surviving spouse would be eligible to receive, for up to 6 months, a decedent's permanent total disability, supplementary or additional benefits payable benefits if the injured employee was permanently and totally disabled for at least 10 years and was married to the surviving spouse for at least 10 years and provided WSI approved home health care for the decedent.
- Required the WSI Board to make formal recommendations to the Governor regarding premium rates, dividends, investment allocations, and legislation.
- Allowed an injured worker to request a change in medical providers after 30 days instead of 60 days from date of injury.
- Legislation provided funds for the purchase or adaptation of specially equipped motor vehicles for the catastrophically injured, not to exceed $100,000 for the life of the claim; provided an alternative Additional Benefit Payable (ABP) calculation for a select group of permanent total disability recipients whose injuries occurred prior to August 1, 1995.
- Legislation expanded the population that is potentially eligible for death benefits to include the surviving spouse of the catastrophically injured if the disability has continued until the time of death; the death occurs more than six years after the date of the injury and the death was the direct result of the work injury.
- Also, expanded the eligibility pool of WSI’s revolving loan fund to include surviving spouses and dependent children of an injured worker whose death resulted from a compensable injury and sets a maximum interest rate of 1% below the Bank of North Dakota’s prime interest rate.
- Legislation shortened the period for supplementary benefit eligibility from 7 years to 3 years for Permanent Total Disability claims subject to 2005 HB 1171 (Claims filed after December 31, 2005); and clarified the definition of Permanent Partial Impairment Awards to attempt to prohibit an offset by Social Security and makes the award schedule based on a multiplier amount rather than weeks.
- An annual lump-sum inflationary adjustment was provided for long-term temporary partial disability cases.
- Legislation also provided that a coordinating committee appointed by the Governor and composed of representatives of business associations would submit a list of three potential candidates for the six employer Board positions when there are vacancies. The Governor may reject the list of three candidates names. Board members may serve no more than two consecutive four-year terms.
- Other legislative changes were passed that allowed WSI to reveal those employers who are in a delinquent or uninsured status; replaced the existing 75% experience rate surcharge cap with an unlimited cap; and clarified language to accommodate the move from documentation-based to results-based risk management programs.
- Legislation provided additional safety incentives and established continuing appropriation authority to fund safety education, grant and incentive programs from the fund's surplus.
- Also, provided employers an incentive for early claim filing by waiving the first $250 of medical costs if the claim is filed by midnight on the following WSI business day; dedicated $15 million of WSI's fund surplus to establish an educational revolving loan fund to help injured workers take out college loans for an approved education plan when they don't qualify for a WSI vocational retraining program.
- Legislation also increased the amount of the non-dependency death benefit from $2,000 to 5% of the cap on death benefits ($12,500), the cap is currently $250,000; provides the option for an injured worker to choose to pursue a retraining program or opt for up to five years of partial disability benefits.
- In addition, legislation changed the definition of what constitutes when a worker is declared to be Permanently and Totally Disabled, thus, moving from a subjective definition to an objective standard in the law.
- Legislative changes increased the maximum dollar amount for Guardian Scholarships from $3,000 to $4,000 per year for up to 5 years for spouses and dependent children of a worker who died as a result of a compensable work-related injury, and increased the maximum amount of scholarships that can be awarded annually from $150,000 to $300,000.
- Legislation changed the organization's name to Workforce Safety & Insurance (WSI); increased lifetime death benefits from $197,000 to $250,000; and allowed for the limited release of information on the status of an employer's account.
- Legislation also changed the make-up of the WSI Board of Directors, shortened the terms from 6 to 4 years and made the medical member a voting member and added an at-large member.
- Other legislative changes included removing the re-marriage penalty for death benefit recipients; and increasing the amount of money to $50,000 for WSI to spend on home and vehicle modifications for the catastrophically injured.
- Authorized the construction of a new building in north Bismarck to house NDWC and required NDWC to include rental space for other state agencies.
- Provided incentives for employers to hire previously injured workers in positions that will accommodate the worker's restrictions resulting from a work injury (the program was subsequently named, "The Preferred Worker Program”).
- 2001 legislation also prohibited an employer from requiring an employee to use accrued personal leave for time off work for a work-related disability; increased awards for certain impairment; provided that an employee may be found guilty of fraud for making false statements to get a claim or benefit paid; and repealed the sunset clause on the scholarship fund for children of workers killed on the job.
- The 1999 legislature substantially increased cash benefits for the severely impaired, increased the maximum disability benefit (making North Dakota's maximum benefit rate one of the highest in the country), shortened the eligibility period for supplemental benefits, and increased the size of scholarships available to dependents of workplace fatality victims.
- Another major piece of 1999 legislation provides authority for NDWC to issue grants to high risk industries for prevention of workplace accidents.
- Additionally, the bill allows NDWC to offer dividends, deductibles, group insurance and other products that give employers direct financial incentives for protecting the safety of their workers.
- The 1997 legislature changed the law to increase certain benefits, streamline claims processes, enhance system efficiency, further restrict the potential for fraud, reduce litigation and adjust earlier reforms.
- The legislature also placed NDWC within the oversight of a board of directors made up of NDWC constituents appointed by the Governor. NDWC continues to be managed by an executive director who reports directly to the board. This law also mandated that independent, qualitative performance audits be conducted by workers' compensation industry experts every two years with the results being presented to the legislature.