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Changes to Workers Compensation Law (Part Three)

            (6)       Timing

Changes defining cumulative trauma and the definition of injury (set out above) as well as the other changes in Public Chapter 416 will take effect on June 6, 2011.  The changes to Overstreet take effect also on June 6, 2011.   Intoxication changes July 1, 2011 (see below)  Construction changes October 1, 2011 (see below).  Unemployment compensation changes July 1, 2011 (see below).

            (7)       Intoxication/drug use defense

The new law T.C.A. § 50-6-110(c)(1) increases the standard for the employee rebutting the presumption that a work injury was caused by drug or alcohol use.  The standard has now shifted from the “preponderance of the evidence” to “clear and convincing evidence” where there has been a drug free workplace.

In addition to the drug free workplace law which is very detailed and which an employer may or may not have in effect, the presumption also has a second requirement.  The second requirement is that there be a blood alcohol concentration level equal to or greater than .08 for non safety sensitive positions or .04 for safety sensitive positions or a confirmation of certain types of drugs.  The new code sets this out in T.C.A. §50-6-110 and takes effect July 1, 2011.

            (8)       Construction service providers exemptions 

Public Chapter 422 takes effect on October 1, 2011 and deals with the ability of officers of corporations (up to 5 may be exempt-previously 3), or limited liability companies (30% ownership dropped to 20% of the company), or limited or general partnerships (30% ownership dropped to 20%), or family owned businesses (up from 3 to 5 may be exempt) to exempt themselves from coverage.  This change in policy will affect multiple statutes within T.C.A. § 5-6-101 et. seq. and 901 et. seq.

            (9)       Unemployment compensation

Unemployment compensation takes out the period of temporary total disability from the calculation of the base period which will increase the gross pay calculation to help the people arrive at a more reasonable unemployment compensation rate.  The changes in T.C.A. § 50-6-207(1)(C) are effective July 1, 2011.

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