Senate Labor and Industry Committee Advances Two PA Chamber Supported Bills

From PA Chamber of Business & Industry

Two PA Chamber supported bills were advanced by the Senate Labor and Industry Committee last week.

House Bill 68 would extend the period of time Pennsylvania employers have to apply for relief from charges in the Unemployment Compensation system.  Under the current system, when a worker is eligible for UC benefits, their base-year employer is “charged” for those benefits.  These charges are then factored into an employer’s experience-based tax rate.  The law recognizes there are situations in which it may not be fair to charge an employer for benefits paid to a specific worker.  In these cases, employers are given a 15 day window to request relief from charges.  This legislation extends the window for an employer to request relief from charges from 15 to 21 days, giving the employer extra time to navigate the sometimes complex request process.  The bill was unanimously approved by the committee.

Another bill to be considered by the committee last week was S.B. 922, legislation that would clarify language in the Workers’ Compensation Act as it relates to subrogation rights.  A long-standing principle of workers’ compensation has been the right of employers to be reimbursed for certain expenses if a third party is found liable for the injury.  Courts have upheld so-called subrogation rights in order to hold negligent third-parties accountable, mitigate the impact on non-negligent employers and prevent double recovery by claimants.  Subrogation has included allowing employers to offset future wage-loss and medical costs if the third party recovery exceeds the compensation paid by employer. However, in the 2018 Whitmoyer decision, the PA Supreme Court found that the ability to offset future costs only applied to wage-loss benefits, not medical expenses.  This legislation makes a technical change to address the Court’s concern.  The bill was approved on a 6 to 4 party line vote. 

The PA Chamber sent a memo in support of both bills prior to the committee votes.