Employment Legislation Update

The Oregon Legislature recently completed a short (even-numbered year) session, passing just two bills that may impact employers.

House Bill 4010 authorizes Oregon’s Employment Department to make public all decisions of the Employment Appeals Board. As you may know, the Employment Appeals Board hears appeals from decisions that are made by the Employment Department—such as appeals concerning claims for unemployment benefits. The Employment Department had previously directed the Appeals Board to refrain from publishing decisions, due to concerns relating to confidentiality. Following House Bill 4010, we expect to see more published decisions. That increased access will mean more guidance for employers (and employees, for that matter) on, say, what their chances for appeal might be and whether they might wish to invest their time and resources in pursuing the appellate process. On the flip side, it may also mean some unwanted publicity: names / circumstances in particular employee terminations may become published, if they are involved in a decision before the Appeals Board.

Senate Bill 1558 affects self-insured employer groups as relates to worker’s compensation claims. The Bill provides that, if a self-insured employer group is decertified before September 15, 2014, then the Director of the Department of Consumer and Business Services is permitted to provide money to injured workers who have not received the compensation that they are due because the claims funds and securities have been exhausted. The Bill also permits the Department of Consumer and Business services to set standards that self-insured employers will be required to meet to prove that they are financially viable.