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CLIENT ALERT: BWC issuing $1.5 billion in premium refunds to Ohio employers

The Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) has now reported that the Board of Directors approved a proposal to send $1.5 billion of the agency’s revenues to Ohio employers covered by the BWC system.

BWC will begin sending checks to private and public employers in late September, with payments expected to continue into October. These funds are available, according to BWC, due to strong investment returns, falling injury claims and other operational efficiencies.

This refund is expected to be 88 percent of the 2017 policy year premium. While the bulk would go to private companies, an estimated $114 million would go to counties, cities, townships and other local government entities. Nearly $50 million would go to public school districts.

In order to be eligible to receive this refund, an Ohio employer must complete their True Up in a timely fashion.  Other eligibility criteria, employer-specific, may apply as well.

The BWC is also pushing their PAR Program, which eligible employers can apply for and, if successful, the employer can recover 50% of their premium, up to a rebate maximum of $2,000.00

Private employers should have already received their True Up notices.  Please feel free to call us if you need or want advice or assistance with any Workers’ Compensation-related matter.

For more information, contact Richard L. Williger via email at rlwilliger@bmdllc.com or call (330) 253.3770.

DOL Proposes New Rule Regarding Independent Contractor Status - But How Will the Election Affect Its Future?

On September 22, 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor announced a new proposed rule regarding employee and independent contractor status under the Fair Labor Standards Act. The full text of the proposed rule is available here. The rule's drafters intend to reduce uncertainty and enhance the precision and predictability of the long-standing "economic reality" test, which currently relies on a multifactor balancing test.

Major Change to Franklin County, Ohio Eviction Process: Landlord Testimony Required

Although there is currently a nationwide temporary halt on all residential evictions through December 31, 2020 in place, the eviction process in Franklin County – which processes the highest number of evictions in the State of Ohio at approximately 18,000 a year – recently changed significantly.

UPDATE: Governor Dewine Signs HB 606 Granting Short Window of Immunity from COVID-19 Personal Injury Lawsuits

The Ohio General Assembly, in Am. Sub. H.B. No. 606, is in the final stages of passing a law that will prohibit lawsuits seeking damages from COVID-19. This includes injury, death, or loss to person or property if the lawsuits are based, in whole or in part, on the exposure to, or the transmission or contraction of the coronavirus, unless the defendant in the lawsuit acted intentionally or recklessly. In circumstances where this immunity does not apply, H.B. 606 prohibits such claims being aggregated and brought as a class action.

Revised Department of Labor FFCRA Guidance, Effective September 16, 2020

In response to attacks on the legality of the Department of Labor’s (“DOL”) Final Rule regarding the Families First Coronavirus Act (“FFCRA” or the “Act”), which took effect in April 2020, the Department of Labor issued new guidance on Friday, September 11th to formally address ongoing questions and concerns related to the COVID-19 legislation.

FCC Adds $198 Million to Strengthen Telehealth for Rural Healthcare Providers

The Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) has added an additional $198 million in funding to its Rural Health Care Program. These funds will be used to increase broadband services and telecommunications to bolster telehealth/telemedicine services for rural healthcare providers. Funding for rural healthcare providers was initially capped at $605 million in 2020, but the added funds will now allow the FCC to provide over $800 million to eligible providers.