19.6% Workers’ Comp Rate Increase Could Jeopardize Florida’s 59 Month Job Growth Streak

By: Edie Ousley

Increased Costs Likely to Force Small Businesses to Choose Between Paying Higher Workers’ Comp Rates and Hiring New Employees

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (July 1, 2016) – Florida’s 59 consecutive months of private sector job growth may soon be in jeopardy as job creators prepare for a proposed 19.6 percent workers’ compensation rate increase, the Florida Chamber of Commerce said today.

The recommended 19.6 percent workers’ comp rate increase, proposed effective beginning October 1, was announced earlier today by the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI,) the industry’s provider of workers’ comp analysis and rates. The increase results from two recent Florida Supreme Court rulings that deemed Florida’s attorney fee provision unconstitutional (Castellanos v. Next Door Company), and declared the current cap for temporary total disability (104 weeks) unconstitutional (Westphal v. City of St. Petersburg).

According to the release by NCCI, “NCCI estimates that the impact of Westphal will be an increase in overall Florida workers compensation system costs of +2.2%.”

If the rate filing is approved as filed increasing rates by 19.6 percent, Florida will have the highest premiums in the Southeast.

The Florida Chamber believes the Florida Legislature must address this rate increase to avoid harming Florida’s growing economy and private-sector job growth.

The Florida Chamber’s Workers’ Compensation Task Force has been engaging Florida’s highest elected leaders since last year, preparing them for this outcome, and advocating for a legislative solution. In addition to the Florida Chamber’s Workers’ Comp Task Force meetings, eight regional meetings have already taken place, and our local chamber federation is actively engaged – assessing the impact it will have on businesses in their communities and joining efforts toward solutions.

“Small businesses create two of every three jobs in Florida, and a workers’ comp rate increase as significant as this could force these businesses to choose between paying higher workers’ comp rates and hiring new employees,” said Mark Wilson, President and CEO of the Florida Chamber of Commerce. “A 19.6 percent rate increase will cause uncertainty among job creators and may even force a decline in Florida’s job growth.”

The Florida Chamber has a 13 year history of leading efforts to help lower workers’ comp rates by nearly 60 percent, and is committed to leading the charge moving forward to ensure affordable rates despite personal injury trial lawyer efforts to make more money off the system.

“It’s clear that Florida’s workers’ comp system is under attack,” Wilson added. “A legislative solution will help bring certainty back to Florida’s job creators and injured workers that Florida’s workers’ comp system is working.”

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