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HR & Employment

The cost of complying with human resources and employment regulations is significant for all employers. WMC believes Wisconsin should streamline employment regulations, address the growing medical costs associated with Worker’s Compensation, and ensure a level playing field in the state’s labor laws.

HR & Employment

Agenda

Wisconsin’s work comp medical costs are significantly higher than the national average, making our employers less competitive. WMC supports curbing these costs, as 45 other states have already done, by implementing a fee schedule for maximum-allowed medical charges. WMC also supports allowing employers to utilize medical providers that have the best outcomes, establishment of enforceable treatment guidelines to ensure appropriate care, and administrative efficiencies throughout the system to reduce transaction costs.
Since 1911, worker’s compensation has been the exclusive remedy for workplace injuries. This grand bargain ensures that injured workers get the treatment they need and deserve, while employers are protected from lawsuits. In recent years, some have advocated for doing away with the exclusive remedy by declaring that certain injuries are workplace related without requiring proof of the injury having occurred on the job. WMC believes the grand bargain must be upheld.

WMC engages with the Department of Workforce Development and lawmakers on potential changes to the Unemployment Insurance system each legislative session. Our priorities must focus on policies that will maintain the integrity of the unemployment system, ensure workers who truly are out of work through no fault of their own are eligible for benefits while searching for new work, and to keep unemployment insurance taxes low for employers.

The state should acknowledge that the unemployment rate has a direct impact on unemployed workers’ ability to find new work by connecting the number of weeks of unemployment benefits to the unemployment rate. As the unemployment rate increases or decreases, so does the availability of jobs. The number of weeks of unemployment benefits should also increase or decrease accordingly.

Worker’s Compensation, Unemployment Insurance and the Department of Revenue each have their own criteria for determining if someone is an employee or an independent contractor. This causes great confusion for all involved, especially with the expanding gig economy. Wisconsin should streamline the classification of independent contractors and make the definitions and criteria used uniform across state government.

Governor Thompson signed Wisconsin’s FMLA in 1988. President Clinton signed the federal FMLA in 1993. A harmonization of our state law and federal law has never taken place, leaving Wisconsin companies to deal with two sets of rules. Exempting employers who must follow federal regulations from the state law would remove the burden of complying with both laws, and remove confusion resulting from compliance with two overlapping and conflicting leave laws.

Like FMLA, state and federal law differs when it comes to wage and hour standards. Items like how lunch breaks are treated, travel time, changing clothes and overtime should be federalized so that workers and employers have one set of rules to follow instead of two.

Workers today demand flexibility, and many employers are meeting that demand by allowing flexible schedules to hourly and salaried workers alike. In doing so, many hourly workers are now given employer-provided smart devices. Wisconsin should ensure that preliminary activities, such as de minimis time spent checking emails and calendars on smart devices, do not count toward compensable hours worked.

man smiling in meeting
Rachel Ver Velde

Questions?

If you would like to learn more about our stance on education reform or have questions, contact Rachel Ver Velde, WMC’s Director of Workforce, Education and Employment Policy.

HR & Employment

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