In practice, for employers the new VA House Bill 46 alters little. Compared to the current 20-Day Order procedure, the new VA House Bill makes four changes:
1. Whereas the Commission previously had the option to issue a 20-Day order, the new Bill now requires the Commission to issue such an order whenever the claimant files a claim for benefits;
2. Employers now have 30 days to respond to the Commission’s Order, rather than 20 days;
3. Employers now have to state what information they need from the employee or a third party to determine compensability, or the reasons for denying a claim; and
4. Employers may email their response to the employee if the employee consents.
The Commission will likely re-title its 20-Day Order to a 30-Day Order, but otherwise not change the format or only make minor changes. The employer’s response will not be part of the hearing record. The employer’s response is still a required report pursuant to the Code of Virginia Section 65.2-902, subject to a civil penalty of not more than $500 for non-compliance.
For a more detailed summary of the new Bill and what it requires from employers, please see below.
The new VA House Bill requires the Commission to order he employer to respond to a Claim for Benefits within 30 days of the Order. The Commission’s Order triggers the 30-day time period. The employer must respond with the following information:
1. whether it accepts the claim;
2. whether it denies the claim;
a. The employer must now state the reasons for denying the claim.
b. The bill does not provide a level of specificity, therefore a minimal amount of information would be sufficient. For example: denied because the claimant is an independent contractor; denied because accident did not arise out of employment; denied because of willful misconduct; denied because of cumulative trauma.
3. or if it requires information from the employee or a third party to determine compensability.
a. The employer must now identify what information it requires from the employee or third party to determine whether to accept or deny the claim.
b. For example: need description of accident and injuries from employee; need medical records from hospital/urgent care/treating physician; do not know what if any medical treatment employee received; need description of accident from driver of other motor vehicle; need police report of motor vehicle accident.
The employer may email the response to the employee if the employee consents.
Please see the following link to the exact language of the new VA House Bill 46: https://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?201+ful+HB46ER