On paper, workers’ compensation provides Floridians with the protection they need should they become ill or injured on the job. In fact, if workers had a pre-existing illness and this worsened on the job, workers’ compensation should assist with recovery here, as well. In reality, this does not always play out the way workers expect it to.
NPR explains that as America became more industrialized, it struck a compromise between workers and employers. Workers agreed not to sue and employers agreed to provide the benefits workers would otherwise have needed to sue to receive. However, several states have begun to chip away at these protections and Florida is no exception.
Struggles workers face
In today’s current working environment, employees often have no choice but to take employers and their insurance companies to court. This can lead to years-long battles to receive compensation for surgery and other medical benefits. Employers also often retaliate and attempt to fire workers or even trigger deportation proceedings.
Benefits to employers and insurers
In contrast, employers and their insurance companies now save and make a lot of money. Despite high rates of accidents on the job, including lethal accidents, employers now pay the lowest rates for workers’ compensation on record since 1975. Insurance companies also continue to reap high profits.
Since 1994, Florida reduced benefits by 65% for its severely disabled workers. It also eliminated another 20% of the compensation it provided to workers suffering from permanent partial disabilities. This has a devastating impact on injured Floridians and their families.
Another NPR article reported Florida as one of several states limiting or cutting disability benefits near or at the age of retirement. Some state representatives claim that the low workers’ compensation costs keep states competitive for attracting jobs, but some might wonder if risking the lives of workers is worth it.