Tennessee Employer
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TN Department of Labor and Workforce Development - April 2013
 
Workers' Compensation
Legislature considers major Workers’ Compensation reform

By now you have probably seen the newspaper articles or heard the discussions about the possibility of major reforms to the Tennessee Workers’ Compensation Act.  And, you probably have some questions – such as why, or when, or what type of reform. This is a brief overview to answer some of those questions.

The governor proposed the reforms due to

  • Concerns about the cost of Workers’ Comp in Tennessee, especially compared to other states;
  • The impact of those costs on the ability to attract and keep business in this state;
  • Inconsistent outcomes from different courts that cause a “race to the courthouse”;
  • The length of time it takes to resolve claims that go to court; and
  • The overly complex nature of the current system.

Studies show that Workers’ Comp premiums cost more on average than they cost in any of the eight states that border Tennessee. These costs are always a consideration whenever employers plan new facilities or expand current ones. And, high costs make it more likely that employers will look elsewhere.

  Governor Haslam talks about his plan for changes to Workers' Compensation program
Link to video here.

The goals of the bill that was introduced are to design a system that is fair to both employees and employers in terms of benefits, to speed up the settling of claims, to make the system easier for injured workers to understand, and to lower premiums. Key parts of the bill include

  • Creating Workers’ Compensation Judges within the Workers’ Comp Division of the Department of Labor & Workforce Development. This would eliminate the need for courts to hear the cases and should add more predictable outcomes.
  • Making injuries compensable if they “arise primarily in the course and scope of work.”
  • Increasing the number of weeks for disability benefits from 400 to 450.
  • Placing a greater emphasis on mediation. The current mediation program is one of the true strengths of the Department’s Workers’ Comp Division. The reforms would require the Department’s mediators to certify disputes before they proceed to a Workers’ Compensation Judge.
  • Creating Ombudsmen to assist unrepresented workers in filing forms and preparing for mediation. The Division would be able to provide even more hands-on assistance to injured workers than it does currently. Ombudsmen would be neutral, but could provide much needed help and could answer questions from injured workers that cause them to be afraid or intimidated by the process.
On April 1, the Senate passed the bill by a vote of 28-2.  The House approved the bill on April 11 with an amendment to add a sunset provision and a reporting requirement.  The Senate concurred with the amendment on April 15.  The Governor will have the opportunity to sign the bill in the next few weeks.  Once signed, some of the changes will go into effect July 1, 2013, but the majority of changes will be effective July 1, 2014.  In the meantime, the division is already at work on the implementation plans.

If you would like to see the proposed bill in its entirety, House Bill 0194, sponsored by Representative McCormick and Senate Bill 0200, sponsored by Senator Norris can be viewed at the legislative bill search at http://wapp.capitol.tn.gov/apps/billsearch/BillSearchAdvanced.aspx


The Sixteenth Annual Tennessee Workers' Compensation Educational Conference
will take place at the Nahville Airport Marriott, June 19-21, 2013. For more information and a registration form please click here.


Unemployment Insurance
Giving Separation Notices can lower need for employer appeals

Fewer than 10 percent of employers issue required separation notices within 24 hours of terminating workers. Workers often need these notices when applying for services such as unemployment benefits and food stamps.

When workers apply for unemployment, they are asked the reason for separation and are asked to mail or fax their separation notice to the department. If the claimant was not given the document and if the employer does not reply to a request for information, the department must rely on information provided by the claimant; if an employer does not agree with the department’s initial decision, he can either file an appeal or run the risk of higher tax rates due to an improperly approved claim.

Separation notices are available online at http://www.tn.gov/labor-wfd/Employers/forms/LB-0489.pdf.
In April 2012 the department announced an electronic method of responding to unemployment information requests called the Unemployment Insurance State Information Data Exchange System or SIDES, which results in a more accurate claims-filing process. For more information on SIDES visit http://info.uisides.org/.

    Administration
Governor appoints Burns Phillips
to lead TDLWD

 
 
Burns Phillips
Gov. Bill Haslam named Burns Phillips acting commissioner for the Department of Labor & Workforce Development on March 18, 2013.  Prior to coming with the department Phillips was managing director in the Department of Finance and Administration overseeing customer-focused government initiatives administration wide.

“Burns brings both public and private sector experience to this interim role,” said Haslam. “I appreciate his willingness to take on these responsibilities as we continue to focus on serving the citizens of Tennessee.”

Early in his career, Phillips worked in the Budget Office of F&A before going into the private sector where he worked in medical sales and marketing. In 1991 he founded a surgical instrument company that conducted business in the United States and 30 other countries.

In 2009 he returned to state government to serve as transportation administrative director of the Department of Transportation’s Central Services Division.

Phillips has both bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Middle Tennessee State University and earned a law degree from the Nashville School of Law.






Employer Accounts
Employer Rates Unchanged

 

Tennessee is one of only four states whose “rate year” begins on July 1 and ends the following June 30th.  Tennessee premium rates will only change on January 1st in those years when there is a change in the Premium Rate Table as determined by the balance of the Unemployment Compensation Trust Fund.

Since July 1, 2012, Premium Rate Table 3 has been in effect. Premium Rate Table 3 is used when the balance of the Trust Fund is between $525 million and $650 million. Employer premium rates for the 1st and 2nd quarters of 2013 will remain unchanged from rates used in the 3rd and 4th quarters of 2012.

   

Employer Accounts
2013 Due Dates for Premium and Wage Reports

1st Quarter ends March 31, 2013
Reports due April 30, 2013

2nd Quarter
ends June 30, 2013
Reports due July 31, 2013

3rd Quarter ends September 30, 2013
Reports due October 31, 2013

4th Quarter ends December 31, 2013
Reports due January 31, 2014

 

Employer Accounts
New Employer Premium and Wage Reporting Access Codes assigned

The Tennessee Premium and Wage Reporting System (TNPAWS) is an Internet method of filing the quarterly Premium and Wage Reports. The TNPAWS web site located at https://tdlwd.tn.gov/tnpaws is available for use by any employer with an active employer account number.
 
To use TNPAWS, employers must have the department-issued Access Code. The Access Code appears on either the pre-printed 1st quarter 2013 Premium Report (LB-0456) or the letter reminding previous TNPAWS users to file by the due date. If you cannot locate these documents, you may retrieve the Access Code from a link provided on the website itself.  Access Codes change in the first quarter of each year, so please retain your 2013 access code for future filing ease.
 
The first quarter is the best time to begin using TNPAWS because the employee information you report is saved and displayed in the following quarters. Returning users only need to add and/or delete employees and enter the current quarter wages to complete the report. TNPAWS calculates the total, excess, and taxable wages of each employee before determining the premium due for the quarter.

While employers can start using TNPAWS at any time, we encourage you to begin in the first quarter of the calendar year. If you have additional questions about the operation of TNPAWS, please call (615) 741-0930.


Job Service
Knoxville Career Center helps U.S. Bank with hiring needs

Since U.S. Bank expanded its Tennessee physical presence in 2012 to include Knoxville, the bank has called on the Career Center on University Avenue several times to help recruit people to staff in-store locations.

U.S. Bank Recruiter Anita Bright was recently at the Career Center with a U.S. Bank Mortgage Sales Manager. They were giving an information session and collecting résumés from potential candidates for Mortgage TN Career CenterOriginator positions at in-store locations.

“Communication with the Knoxville Career Center staff has always been excellent,” said Bright. “We use the Jobs4TN Online recruiter to set up an e-mail blast to notify qualified applicants when we will be interviewing at the Career Center. We’ve always had good experiences with the Career Center.”

Bright, who holds Professional in Human Resources and Certified Internet Recruiter credentials, said U.S. Bank has hired quite a few employees through the Career Center. She said she has shared her Career Center recruiting success with other lines of business with U.S. Bank.

“Staff at the Career Center are always willing to help,” she said. “Recruiting through them is a very efficient use of time and resources.”

U.S. Bank is the fifth largest commercial bank in the country. The company has 66,000 employees nationwide and locations all over Tennessee. At present there are 10 traditional branches in Knoxville.


Job Service
Job fairs gearing up

The following is a list of the dates, counties, and hosts for job fairs coming up soon. To see more detail, such as location, and information on all upcoming job fairs, go to the Web site http://www.tn.gov/labor-wfd/JobFairs/.
  Date   County   Host  
  April 23   Hamblen   Rep. Tilman Goins  
  May 2   Montgomery   Rep. Joe Pitts  
  June 4   Rutherford   Sen. Bill Ketron  
  June 6   Wilson              Sen. Mae Beavers  
  June 12   Davidson   Sen. Thelma Harper  
  June 13   Madison   Rep. Johnny Shaw  
  June 19   Maury   Rep. Sheila Butt  
  June 20   Hardeman   Sen. Dolores Gresham  
  June 25   Hamilton   Rep. Joanne Favors  
  June 27   Shelby   Sen. Brian Kelsey and Rep. Steve McManus  
Contact Ron Hammontree at ron.hamontree@tn.gov, (615) 741-8892, if you would like to participate in an upcoming job fair.
“Last year’s job fair was most successful! Most people left the fair with a job in hand. The employers remarked to me it was the most effective job fair they had ever attended. The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development has done a phenomenal job in connecting employees with employers.”

Harry Brooks— Harry Brooks, Knoxville state representative
  “Working with the Department of Labor & Workforce Development and Yolanda Arnold with the Office of Minority Affairs, we have had two very successful job fairs in Maury County in the past year. Each time, we had many applicants who were able to secure employment and also many satisfied employers. I have met people on the street who have let me know that they are employed because of one of our job fairs. Working together we have been able to make a difference in the lives of many people. I am looking forward to hosting another job fair in June!”

Sheila Butt Sheila Butt, Columbia state representative

Quicklinks
| TN Dept of Labor | UI Tax Information| E-Verify |
| Workers Compensation | SIDES | Jobs4TN.gov |

Send us comments or suggestions on department topics to jeff.hentschel@tn.gov

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