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Minnesota marriage law impacts workers' compensation policies

One of the biggest news items out of the state legislature in St. Paul this year was the legalization of same-sex marriage. For many Minnesotans, this means that they will now be eligible for a wide variety of benefits granted to married couples. Additionally, it means that employers will now have to make considerations for spouses and dependents, including coverage under workers' compensation policies.

When a workplace accident results in a fatality, the victim's loved ones are typically entitled to survivors' benefits. If a couple was living together and had a family, but they weren't legally married, employers and insurance policies aren't obligated to provide coverage. The change in Minnesota's marriage law also changes this requirement.

The Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry reminded employers of the impact of the change in law, which went into effect on Aug. 1. State officials also reminded employees that coverage only applies to injuries that occurred while a couple was legally married. In addition, certain workers' compensation policies have exceptions for coverage, so it's important for employees to understand what to expect in the event of a work-related injury.

Losing a loved one can put a tremendous amount of stress on a family. Beyond the emotional toll, lost income can also create hardship. This is why workers' compensation laws are designed to protect employees and their families in the event of a serious work-related accident. Beyond spouses, workers' compensation policies can also provide payments to an employee's children or stepchildren.

Workers' compensation coverage is just one of several protections that can be granted through marriage. As employers work to implement changes to workplace policy, it will be important for workers to understand how the new law could provide additional coverage for them in the event of an accident at work.

Source: Business Insurance, "Minn. employers must pay comp benefits to surviving same-sex spouses," Roberto Ceniceros, Aug. 1, 2013

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