(TRENTON) – To ease the transition back to work for injured workers, Assembly Democrats Carol Murphy (D-Burlington), Daniel Benson (D-Mercer, Middlesex), and Verlina Reynolds-Jackson (D-Hunterdon, Mercer) sponsor legislation approved Monday by the Assembly Labor Committee requiring employers to provide hiring preference to employees who have reached Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI) following work-related injuries.
Employees receive workers’ compensation as a “no-fault” insurance program, after suffering job-related injuries or illnesses. The programs include: Medical Benefits, Temporary Total Benefits, Permanent Partial Benefits, Permanent Total Benefits, and death benefits to dependents of workers who have died as a result of their employment. The bill (A-2617) would require an employer with at least 50 employees to provide hiring preference to an injured employee who has reached Maximum Medical Improvement, is unable to return to their former position, but can perform the essential duties of an existing, unfilled position. MMI occurs when an injured employee reaches a state where his or her condition cannot be improved further or when the treatment plateaus.
Upon committee approval of the legislation, Murphy, Benson and Reynolds-Jackson issued the following joint statement:
“Work related injuries can be traumatic and devastating. No injured employee should be left without options for work. This bill will ensure that those who are unable to return to their previous position will still be able to put their efforts towards helping in a different role for their employers.
“Those who have been injured in their place of work should not be cast aside with unemployment if they cannot resume their previous position. These people are still valuable employees who can contribute to their employers and company.
“The transition back to work after suffering an injury can be difficult. It is important for companies to offer ways for these employees to continue to contribute in the workplace, provide for their families, and resume successful careers.”