A proposal to update Guam’s worker compensation rates for injury, disability or death was introduced Wednesday.

We agree it’s time to bring this up.

The rates haven’t been updated for more than 30 years, said the legislation’s chief sponsor, Sen. Regine Biscoe Lee.

She said her proposal, Bill 200, received input from attorneys, labor advocates, businesses and insurers before it was introduced.

Some of the proposed rates would nearly double the current levels.

We agree workers who experience an injury or disability from a work-related incident should be compensated twice what the old rates were from three decades ago. The families of workers who lose their lives while on the job should be given a corresponding increase, too, and that’s the intent of the legislation.

“This measure will deliver the first meaningful raise in three decades for workers injured on the job and for families of those whose injury results in death,” Lee said in a press release.

Some of the proposed rates are from a minimum of $150 to $310 a week for a work-related disability.

The compensation for serious, permanent disfigurement that’s work-related would increase from $10,000 to $25,000.

The compensation limit for a job-related injury or death would change from $100,000 to $206,570.

And the funeral benefits for a worker’s family would increase from $3,600 to $7,435.

While still subject to further review during the lawmaking process, this is a welcome move for workers.

It’s good to know that when a job or workplace puts workers’ safety at risk, there will be an improved financial safety net for them. It might not be a lot, but it’s better than what it is now.

This is one issue that workers’ compensation advocates have hoped for.

There are other worker safety nets that are lacking on Guam, such as required unemployment insurance in the event of joblessness.

It might be time to put together an unemployment insurance legislation and a severance package legislation for long-time workers who lose their jobs, both in the public and private sectors.

Often, senators’ proposals focus on helping GovGuam employees.

Private-sector workers count on lawmakers to advocate for them, too.


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