House Bill No. 442

Introduced By _______________________________________________________________________________

A Bill for an Act entitled: "An Act providing that a state employee who is injured by a client or other person under state supervision as a result of aggressive behavior by the client or person is eligible to receive workers' compensation benefits from the date of the injury; amending section

39-71-736, MCA; and providing an effective date."

WHEREAS, certain state employees are required on a daily basis to work with clients or persons under state supervision who are dangerous and violent; and

WHEREAS, the inmate population at the Montana State Prison has increased beyond prison capacity, creating a dangerous atmosphere for inmates and employees; and

WHEREAS, there has been an increase in violence among residents and inmates at state institutions, including the Montana State Hospital, the Swan River Boot Camp, and the Montana State Prison; and

WHEREAS, violence by an inmate at the Swan River Boot Camp resulted in severe and permanent injury to a department of corrections employee; and

WHEREAS, the employees working at state institutions are increasingly faced with violent situations while performing their jobs; and

WHEREAS, current state law requires a 5-day waiting period before an employee is eligible to file a workers' compensation claim; and

WHEREAS, state employees, who are already suffering psychologically as a result of dealing daily with aggressive clients and violent inmates, suffer additional injury when they are forced to wait for compensation for injuries that occurred while working as an employee in a state institution.

Be it enacted by the Legislature of the State of Montana:

Section 1.  Section 39-71-736, MCA, is amended to read:

"39-71-736.   Compensation -- from what date paid. (1) (a) No Except as provided in subsection (5), compensation may not be paid for the first 48 hours or 6 days' loss of wages, whichever is less, that the claimant is totally disabled and unable to work due to an injury. A claimant is eligible for compensation starting with the 7th day.

(b)  However, separate benefits of medical and hospital services must be furnished from the date of injury.

(2)  For the purpose of this section, except as provided in subsection (3), an injured worker is not considered to be entitled to compensation benefits if the worker is receiving sick leave benefits, except that each day for which the worker elects to receive sick leave counts 1 day toward the 6-day waiting period.

(3)  Augmentation of temporary total disability benefits with sick leave by an employer pursuant to a collective bargaining agreement may not disqualify a worker from receiving temporary total disability benefits.

(4)  Receipt of vacation leave by an injured worker may not affect the worker's eligibility for temporary total disability benefits.

(5) An employee of a state agency who is injured by a client or other person under state supervision as a result of aggressive behavior by the client or other person is eligible to receive compensation from the date of the injury."

NEW SECTION. Section 2.  Effective date. [This act] is effective July 1, 1997.