With the simple addition of a few sentences and the stroke of a pen, the NM legislature has made an amendment to the Workers Compensation, in Senate Bill 155 that clarifies workers’ rights and responsibilities when it comes to workplace injuries and disability.
This is for you, my New Mexico Colleagues—if you employ 3 or more workers then you’ll want to know about these amendments passed in the 2017 legislative session. As reported in the Albuquerque Journal, on Tuesday April 4, 2017, in Section B of the paper, Governor Martinez signed SB 155 to the delight of the bi-partisan drafters and supporters. The essence of the amendment makes it clear that an employer can fire an injured worker who returns to work, provided that the person is terminated for misconduct unrelated to the injury. The measure also makes it clear that an injured worker isn’t entitled to full disability benefits if he or she rejects a reasonable offer to return to work. While still protecting legitimately injured workers these short clarifications help reduce or even eliminate issues managers and HR have struggled with for some time.