Comp: DOL Proposal would Reduce Compensation for Injured Federal Employees

Posted by Sean P. CecilJun 02, 20150 Comments

The federal analog to state workers' comp laws is FECA, the Federal Employees' Compensation Act. Under FECA, a federal employee who is injured on the job in the service of the American people will receive 2/3 of his or pre-injury pay rate, or 75% if the worker has dependents. Citing this "generosity" as an dis-incentive for injured workers to return to work, the Department of Labor is currently considering a proposal to change the compensation to a flat 70% for all workers. This would reduce the majority of injured workers' benefits because, according to the Washington Post, nearly 65% of injured federal employees have dependents.

Although the department claims that the current rate of compensation gives workers an incentive to stay on comp and not return to work, their own Director's statement to the Subcommittee on Workforce Protections fails to demonstrate this as a fact- according to the report, 88% of claimants return to work within the first year of their injury, and 91% return within two years. However, by effectively reducing the rate for the majority of injured federal workers, the Department of Labor is looking at a reduction of over $360 million in costs over ten years.

It is somewhat surprising that President Obama's administration is considering this move, because the President has enjoyed the support of labor unions, typically a key Democratic constituency. Nobody wants to be injured so they can't return to work, and the administration should not seek these cost savings (a miniscule amount of the federal budget) on the back of injured workers who have families to support and mortgages to pay.