OVERVIEW OF THE
MASSACHUSETTS WORKERS' COMPENSATION
In 1985, the Massachusetts Legislature passed, and the Governor signed into law, a set of comprehensive reforms to the workers' compensation system. As part of the reform package, the Workers' Compensation Advisory Council was created to monitor, recommend action, give testimony and report on all aspects of the workers' compensation system, except the adjudication of particular claims or complaints. Since its establishment, the Council has played an important role in ensuring that the Massachusetts workers' compensation system runs efficiently and effectively.
The Council consists of of 16 voting and non-voting members representing major stakeholders in the workers' compensation system. Members include:
Voting Members (10)
5 business representatives
5 labor representatives
Non-Voting Members (6)
1 representative of the claimant's bar
1 representative of the insurance industry
1 representative of medical providers
1 representative of vocational rehabilitation providers
2 ex-officio members:
Secretary of the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development
Secretary of the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development
- The five labor representatives must be members of a duly recognized, independent employee organization, and at least one of them must be a disabled worker.
- The five business members must represent manufacturing classifications, small business, contracting classifications and self-insured businesses.
- The Massachusetts AFL-CIO and the Associated Industries of Massachusetts are required to be represented on the Council.
Members of the Council are appointed by the Governor and serve five year terms. Terms are overlapping and members may be re-appointed.
The Chairman and Vice Chairman of the Council, one of whom must be a labor representative and one of whom must be a business representative, are appointed from among the voting members by the Governor for a term of two years. Such appointees may not succeed themselves as Chairman or Vice-Chairman. The Chairman is responsible for running Council meetings.
The Council's charge, as set forth in MGL c. 23E, § 17, is to monitor, recommend, give testimony, and report on all aspects of the workers' compensation system, except the adjudication of particular claims or complaints. This may include issuing reports; recommending legislation, policies and programs; conducting research; and collecting data from public and private sources.
Specific statutory responsibilities, as set forth in MGL c. 23E, §§ 9 and 17 and c. 152, §§ 53A and 65, include:
- publishing an annual report evaluating the state of the workers' compensation system;
- evaluating the annual operating budget of the DIA (with the vote of seven members, the Council can recommend its own version of the operating budget);
- evaluating the Trust Fund budgets from the DIA (with the vote of seven members, the Council can recommend its own version of the Trust Fund budget:;
- offering testimony on rate filings;
- evaluating the qualifications of administrative judges and administrative law judges;
- conducting studies on workers' compensation issues;
- reviewing the operations of the dispute resolution system;
- reviewing and providing testimony to the legislature on workers' compensation legislation; and
- reviewing employer assessments that fund the agency.
The Council meets on a monthly basis, customarily on the second Wednesday of the month, in Boston. Meetings last approximately two hours. Council meetings are open to the public. The Director of the DIA, Senior Judge and other representatives of the DIA typically attend meetings. Representatives from the legislature, Workers' Compensation Rating and Inspection Bureau, private industry, and other stakeholders also attend monthly meetings.
Meeting agendas are established by the Executive Director and Chairman, with input from other members. In meetings, the Council follows parliamentary procedure. The Council takes no action pursuant to its authority unless a quorum of voting members is present. Formal decisions are made by an affirmative vote of seven of the voting members.
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