What Does House Bill 79 Mean to Your Business?
Omnibus Workers’ Compensation Changes, Effective August 1, 2019
By Brian Zematis

elax. Seriously, let’s do this together. Sink into your chair. Breathe in deeply for five seconds. Hold that breath for a second. Now release. Ahh… that feels good right? So does the idea that we have all just about made it through another whirlwind summer season. This also means as of August 1, we have now seen the full enactment of 2018’s House Bill 79—Omnibus Workers’ Compensation.

Now that we are all subject to House Bill 79, it is the perfect time to take stock of the changes we have had to navigate over the last year and make sure we are all still on course. We will take this one step at a time:

The Second Injury Fund is no longer open for business. Employers no longer need to make contributions to the fund and no longer benefit from payments from the fund either.

Pre-Employment Health Questionnaires: AS 23.30.247 allows employers to mandate a post-job offer health questionnaire as long the sole purpose of, “Determin[ing] whether the employee has the physical or mental capacity to meet the documented physical or mental demands of the work.”

Independent Contractors now have a detailed definition to differentiate them from employees. The difference being an organization needs to provide workers’ compensation coverage for employees, but not for independent contractors. The full details can be found in AS 23.30.230.

LLC Members and Executive Officers as of August 1 need to own at least 10% of their organization to qualify as exempt from workers’ compensation coverage requirements. Be sure you still cover employees who want and/or need to be covered. The Workers’ Compensation Division published bulletin 19-02 to help us all make sense of this change.

Executive Officer Waivers are now a thing of the past as of August 1. This program became unnecessary with the implementation of the 10% ownership rule mentioned previously. A point to consider for those executives now exempt from the workers’ compensation to being covered. Workers’ compensation can be some of the cheapest health insurance one can buy, especially considering executive wages can be capped for premium calculations.

Now that you have checked your work and found your program to be on a steady course with the winds at your back, go ahead and take another deep long breath and enjoy the knowledge you have deftly navigated another tumultuous sea. If any of the above is new to you, rest assured there are experienced insurance brokers ready and willing to help you get back on course.

Brian Zematis, Associate Claims Executive of Parker, Smith & Feek

Brian Zematis is an Associate Claims Executive of Parker, Smith & Feek. He helps clients navigate the claims process and works for their interests with the insurance companies. Brian’s background is rooted in workers’ compensation and branches into the various commercial lines of coverage. He can be reached at
or (907) 865-6845.

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