Los Angeles City Controller Wendy Greuel said this Wednesday that the city pays more for workers on disability and has the worse tracking of overpayments to workers than most other government agencies in California.
Greuel, referencing an audit of part of the city’s workers’ compensation program, said the city spends $5.2 million more in payments for the first year of a city worker’s injury than most other cities. The area has also received a 52 percent increase in the number of workers’ compensation claims, especially from police officers and firefighters.
Auditors reportedly found that the city needs to have better controls in order to minimize occurrences where employees continue receiving overpayments after their first year. In addition, it was found that there has been an increase in payments from $12.9 million to over $19 million in 2012.
According to Greuel, the city needs to negotiate with employee unions to reduce payments to match what other jurisdictions pay their injured workers; in addition, she says, the city needs to develop improved training so that employees avoid injuries.
At present, the city pays workers their full salary for the first year of their injury. The state, by comparison, pays its workers 70 percent of their salary up to a maximum of $1,067 per week.
According to Greuel, workers could end up earning more while off-duty than they would by working, because disability payments are exempt from taxation. This would give workers little incentive to return to work, to say the least.
Source: Daily News, “Workers’ comp audit finds overpayments in Los Angeles program,” Rick Orlov, April 17, 2013