South Georgia Local Government

Werkheiser Will “Work to Close Workers’ Compensation Loophole” in Legislature

State Representative Bill Werkheiser (R-Glennville), chair of the House Industry & Labor Committee, will continue his work to close a loophole in Georgia law that allows employees to not be compensated when they are injured while working. During the 2021 legislative session, Rep. Werkheiser introduced House Bill 397 to close this loophole.

“Unfortunately, there will always be bad players and worker compensation cases will keep ending up in the court system, but we can help fix this problem, and we will,” said Rep. Werkheiser. “Since I first introduced House Bill 397 this past session, it drew the attention of those that I needed input from. Sometimes filing legislation is like bird hunting with a dog. You know something is out there, but you need to flush them out so that you can see them. We needed to get all of the parties in the same room to ensure that workers are fairly compensated for work-related injuries.”

Under the current version of House Bill 397, professional employer organizations (PEOs) and their co-employer clients would be eligible for exclusive remedy under Georgia code, and the responsibility to obtain workers’ compensation coverage must be agreed to in writing and specifically allocated to the co-employer client or the PEO. A co-employer client would be responsible for injury compensation claims with respect to employees not covered by an agreement with the PEO. HB 397 is eligible for consideration during the 2022 legislative session.         

Upon filing the legislation, Rep. Werkheiser began working with area experts to improve the legislation. Additionally, this legislation was reviewed by the House Industry & Labor Committee during the past legislative session, which resulted in the creation of an ad hoc committee to further examine the bill. Rep. Werkheiser appointed several area experts to this ad hoc committee, and these members are allowed to designate an individual to take their place.

Rep. Werkheiser appointed the following area experts to the ad hoc committee: Mark Woodall, Associated General Contractors of Georgia;  John Barbour, Independent Insurance Agents of Georgia; David Pratt, The Southern Group; Robert Bourne, Georgia Workers’ Compensation and Georgia Trial Lawyers Association; Bobby Potter, Advisory Council to Georgia State Board of Workers Compensation; Perry Sartain, Georgia Injured Workers’ Association; and Charlie Flemming, Georgia American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations.

Rep. Werkheiser plans to hold an ad hoc committee meeting on the bill this July. Details about this upcoming meeting will be forthcoming.

For more information on HB 397, please click here.

This is a press release from the Georgia General Assembly.

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