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 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 (EOLWD)
- Secretary of the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development (EOHED)
- The 5 labor representatives must be members of a duly recognized, independent employee organization, and at least 1 of them must be a disabled worker.
- The 5 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 5 year terms. Terms are overlapping and members may be re-appointed.
The Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the Council, 1 must be a labor representative, and 1 must be a business representative, are appointed from among the voting members by the Governor for a term of 2 years. Such appointees can't succeed themselves as Chairman or Vice-Chairman. The Chairman is responsible for running Council meetings.
The Council's job, as set forth in MGL c. 23E, § 17, is to:
- Give testimony
- 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
- Publishing an annual report evaluating the state of the workers' compensation system
- Evaluating the annual operating budget of the DIA (with the vote of 7 members, the Council can recommend its own version of the operating budget)
- Evaluating the Workers' Compensation Trust Fund budgets from the Department of Industrial Accidents (DIA) (with the vote of 7 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 2nd Wednesday of the month, in Boston. Meetings last approximately 2 hours. Council meetings are open to the public. The Director of the Department of Industrial Accidents (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 7of the voting members.