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The history of compensation for workers in the western world started in 19th century Europe with the advent of industrialization. Germany was the first to introduce a legal doctrine for employer liability, followed by Switzerland and England. The US didn’t enact its first workers’ compensation laws until the early 20th century. The last state to enact workers’ compensation laws (Mississippi) did so in 1948—more than 75 years after Europe’s first legislation was introduced. Since US workers’ compensation laws have been heavily influence by Europe, here’s a brief comparison:
Workers’ compensation laws in Europe vary by country. They fall generally into two categories: Bismarckian and Beveridgean. Bismarckian workers’ compensation systems are based on employer contribution to the insurance program. Beveridgean systems are financed through taxes. Eastern Europe primarily follows the Bismarckian approach, whereas the UK and southern European countries such as Italy, Portugal, and the Scandinavian countries lean more towards the Beveridgean approach.
The US approach to workers’ compensation at the federal and state level descends largely from the Bismarckian approach.
While the concepts of workers’ compensation are generally very similar in most Western countries, the rate of actual compensation varies widely. In a report released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2011, the United States ranked below countries including Sweden, Belgium, France, Italy, Austria, and Spain.
In Europe, each workers’ compensation program exists at a national level. Regardless of the system approach, all employers must abide by the legislation. In the US, however, our federal and state laws vary widely. Federal laws cover government employees and tend to offer comprehensive coverage after an accident or illness.
State laws, on the other hand, have a history of benefit inconsistency and injustice. Each state has a different set of laws, and some put the majority of injury and illness costs on the shoulders of injured workers. Some reform proponents believe a public health model could remedy the vast differences between federal and state healthcare.
For further questions regarding California’s workers’ compensation laws after an injury or illness, contact the skilled legal team at DiMarco Araujo Montevideo today.