First, revisions narrowed the qualifications for those appointed to the Commission. All Commissioners appointed on or after this amendatory Act must be authorized to practice law in Illinois, by the Illinois Supreme Court, and must maintain this authorization throughout his or her term of employment. Now that a law license is required, other previous qualifications to be a Commissioner, such as having served as an arbitrator at the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission for at least 3 years, or having at least 4 years of professional labor relations experience, are no longer eligibility factors. Presumably, this change was made so that a Commissioner’s transition into a quasi-judicial role is more linear, coming from an attorney background.
Revisions also made some changes for arbitrators. First and foremost, for downstate Arbitrators, rotations are moving from a maximum of two years in each three-year term to a maximum of four consecutive years. This means that possible Arbitration changes this year may not occur. The bill also removed the specific authorization for the Commission to appoint arbitrators. This change aligns with the practice of how arbitrators have actually been appointed. Additionally, the bill mandates performance reviews by the Chairman every other year, or more often at the discretion of the Chairman, rather than on an annual basis. This change mandates less frequent performance reviews, but allows for the possibility of performance reviews more often than once per year. This change will promote efficiency, so that seasoned arbitrators will have the opportunity to hit their stride in familiar jurisdictions, while balancing the interest of rotating arbitrators regularly due to ethical considerations.
Finally, there were also administrative changes for Self-Insurers, including changing the Self-Insured Administration Board to the Self-Insurers Security Fund.
We expect that these new revisions will benefit both employees and employers, promoting efficiency and increasing transparency at the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission.