Senate Bill 66 and MO Work Comp Law: What You Need to Know
Missouri employers who have workers compensation insurance need to know how Missouri Senate Bill 66 (SB 66) is changing work comp law. The changes have important impacts on maximum medical improvement (MMI), drug penalty cases, retaliation cases and voluntary work separations.
Maximum Medical Improvement Redefined In Missouri, MMI has been the standard that determines when temporary workers compensation benefits end, which makes understanding the definition critical to work comp claims.
SB 66 provides new language stating that MMI is now classified in Missouri law to mean “the point at which the injured employee’s condition has stabilized and can no longer improve with additional medical care.”
SB 66 also created a new presumption in cases where drug and/or alcohol use may have been involved in a workers compensation claim. This presumption is applicable if the employer complies with the all of the following criteria:
Administer a drug test within 24 hours of the incident;
Confirm any positive test result by mass spectrometry;
Notify the employee of their drug or alcohol positive test result within 14 days of learning of the positive result; and
Give the employee an opportunity to perform a second test using the original sample.
A key part of the changes to earning this presumption is the maintenance of the original sample so that the employee can have it retested at their own expense by a laboratory of their choosing. It is important for employers to check with their testing provider and ensure they maintain the original sample for a second testing.
Retaliation Case Standards SB 66 raises the standard a plaintiff must meet to prove an allegation of retaliation when terminated following a workers compensation claim. The new standard requires the terminated employee’s filing of a compensation claim be the motivating factor in their termination. In other words, the workers compensation claim must have actually played a role in the decision and had a determinative impact on their termination.
Voluntary Separation Additional SB 66 language amends the standard regarding voluntary separation. If an employee voluntarily separates from their employment when the employer has work available for them that complies with any medical restrictions, then the employee will no longer qualify for temporary workers compensation benefits.