By Vincent Gilbert
Conventional wisdom, says; “When White businesses have a cold, Black Businesses have the flu.” Black Businesses owners are hurt by Workman Compensation Laws that artificially increase their insurance premiums. Illinois has one of the highest Worker Compensation Premium Rates in the Country. This fact hurts Black Workers also, because when Worker Compensation Premiums are artificially high, Black Businesses don’t have the funds necessary to hire new workers, or pay existing workers a higher salary.
Nationally, Illinois ranks among the States with the lowest job growth. In 2014, Illinois had a net loss of 95,000 people, to other states, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. High Workman Compensation premiums hamper job creation and economic development in the State of Illinois. Illinois was named the seventh costliest State, as it pertains to, worker compensation premiums, according to the 2014 Oregon Workers Compensation Premium Rate Ranking Summary.
Nosa Ehimwenman, President, and CEO, of Bowa Construction Group, said, “Running a successful Construction firm, requires several insurance policies to operate appropriately and responsibly in the state of Illinois, unfortunately, one of our highest costs is our worker compensation insurance premiums, they have consistently increased every year by 5-10%. These increased costs make it very difficult for a small Black Business to be successful in this State.”
The State of Illinois system is broken. In Illinois causation is not apportioned. Under current law if the workplace contributes even less than 1% to an injury, it’s still 100% compensable under current worker compensation laws in Illinois. Employers must pay 100% of Workers compensation awards associated with an injury even in situations where work injuries are only a 1% cause of the injury to the employee.
John Griffin Jr., President of AGB Investigative Services, said, “The rules in Illinois are so broad and the threshold is so low, employers assume risk for injuries that most of us would consider to be outside of the course of work. For example, we punish employers for injuries sustained on a lunch break, or even injuries that originated outside of the workplace. There is very little isolation, with regards to how to determine if an employee was injured on or off the job and whether or when the injury an employee claims actually occurred. This is not to say worker’s compensation isn’t important. It is important in protecting employees injured on the job, and that should continue. However, we shouldn’t be holding employers accountable and paying workers compensation on injuries that occurred outside a factory, office or workplace. That isn’t a fair policy.”
The Illinois Black Chamber of Commerce supports a balanced approach to worker’s compensation reform. We believe workers compensation should protect workers that are injured on the job, we believe employers should not be held accountable for paying workers for injuries that occurred outside of the workplace, and we support the development of a more conclusive means to determining how injuries are sustained. Workmen’s compensation laws should protect employees, support employment growth, and higher pay and business growth.
Dollar Crater, Executive Vice President, Business Operations, Millhouse Engineering & Construction, Inc., echo’s John Griffen’s concerns. “In today’s competitive business environment, it is imperative that small businesses streamline their costs by operating efficiently. This is an ongoing business challenge for any small business concern, because there will always be costs associated with doing business and growing the business. Small businesses can’t compete under these mandated laws and conditions and reforming worker’s compensation laws in Illinois is essential to a business being able to sustain and grow in the state of Illinois.”
Bi-partisan cooperation is needed in Illinois to reform a Workmen’s Compensation system that currently is driving businesses out of the State. The Black Business Community must take the lead in enacting new legislation that will make Illinois competitive once again.
Reform Workers Compensation Laws NOW!