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WORKERS’ COMPENSATION VICTORY IN THE LEGISLATURE

On Tuesday, February 4, the Guam Legislature voted to improve Workers’ Compensation. For the first time in 30 years, payment rates will increase. The Bill, 200-35 (COR), proposed by Senator Regine Biscoe Lee, makes the following changes:

  1. Sets the minimum weekly compensation for permanent total disability as 66.75% of the local minimum wage times 20 hours.
  2. Bases all other minimum and maximum compensation amounts to reflect any per centum increases in the prevailing minimum wage.
  3. Authorizing more than just the Guam Memorial Hospital Emergency Room to see government employees who want to file a claim with the Workers’ Compensation Commission;
  4. Implementing a compromise effective date of 120 days after enactment of this law; and
  5. Further adjusting the maximum weekly compensation for disability from $520 to $1,011.

“This safety net is for the families of workers who are injured or die on the job, but for far too long, decades-old rates were paying for today’s costs,” Senator Lee said. “The reforms the Legislature passed today brings our island closer to restoring a promised lifeline, in a way that is as fair and just to all sides of Workers’ Compensation claims.”

Bill No. 201-35 (COR), to modernize the Workers’ Compensation Commission was also passed by the Senators. This measure:

  1. Imposes civil penalties, ranging between $250 to $25,000, for employers who violate the obligations required under Workers’ Compensation; and
  2. Deposits civil penalties into the Guam Workers’ Compensation Special Fund.
  3. Impanels more subject matter experts, which will result in a fairer arbitration process.
  4. Allows for remote attendance by Commission members via telephone or video conference preventing delayed hearings and the resulting increase in legal expenses.

The laws will go into effect 120 days after being enacted.

For more information, please contact the Office of Senator Régine Biscoe Lee at (671) 472-3455 or via email at senatorbiscoelee@guamlegislature.org.

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