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Tosa city workers not entitled to full pay under proposed workman's comp plan

Sept. 19, 2012

A change proposed in the city's workers' compensation plan would reduce payment for injured employees from 100 percent of pay for a year, to two-thirds of average weekly pay, the minimum under state law, said Wauwatosa Human Resources Director Beth Aldana.

The change, proposed in the 2013 city budget, would save the city money, but also provide stronger motivation for workers to return to the job, Aldana said last week at a Budget Committee meeting.

When employees idled by injury are not fully paid, she said, studies show a "dramatic decrease in the amount of time employees stay out of work."

Workers' compensation benefits are not taxable, meaning an employee collecting workers' comp would be paid more than a taxed two-thirds of salary.

Aldana also introduced a shared services plan under which a workplace safety professional employed by Brookfield would work for Wauwatosa half-time as an independent contractor.

"This proposed shared service agreement will provide the employee safety services and workers' compensation services that are not currently provided at the city," according to the budget proposal.

"They have a very successful program in Brookfield," Aldana said in an interview.

The safety expert would study injury patterns, for example, to determine what practices should be changed or adjusted, she said. And the employee would be expected to observe work practices and recommend changes to improve safety before injuries happen.

Aldana proposed a total program cost of the new safety program of $50,000, including the cost of the contract with Brookfield, which is yet to be negotiated, she said.

The workers' compensation budget for next year shows proposed expenditures of $526,565, above the estimated expenditures of the current year, put at $499,864. Without the $50,000 safety expenditure, perhaps a better comparison of claim experience and expectation, the budget for next year would be $476,565.

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