I attended a Pennsylvania Bureau of Workers’ Compensation continuing legal education seminar today to get an update on the “new Workers Comp Normal .” It was a much anticipated seminar for attorneys to determine where workers’ compensation is headed in Pennsylvania, given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Pennsylvania workers’ compensation system is administered through the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation within the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry. PA Department of Labor & Industry is an executive government agency operating under the jurisdiction of the Governor of Pennsylvania. What we know right now is that Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation will remain virtual through at least June 30, 2021. There is indication that may be extended. That directive comes from the Office of the Governor. Many employees within the Bureau and Workers’ Compensation Judges are teleworking. Since March 2020, Workers Compensation hearings have proceeded by telephone or video. It does not appear that will end anytime soon.
With reference to how proceedings will occur, the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation will transition to Microsoft Teams on March 1, 2021. Our law firm is moving quickly to implement Microsoft Teams in our Workers Comp department. I suspect more and more hearings will transition from telephone to video. Therefore, it is imperative that our clients become comfortable with accessing and using Microsoft Teams. Our staff is committed to working with our clients on any technical issues that may arise during their case. We will work with our clients to create a comfort level with Microsoft Teams for hearings and mediations.
It is still unclear exactly how Workers’ Compensation in Pennsylvania will move forward in the post-Pandemic world. I suspect there will be some permanent modifications in that certain non-testimony proceedings may remain virtual through telephone or Microsoft Teams, even after COVID-19. It is a new era of practice upon us all that will likely lead to a more efficient adjudication system in Pennsylvania. We will continue to update our prospective and current clients as details continue to develop.