Definition of workers' compensation
workers' compensation (uncountable)
- Insurance that pays medical costs of personal injuries sustained by working.
Workers compensation (colloquially known as workers' comp in North America or compo in Australia) is a form of insurance that provides compensation medical care for employees who are injured in the course of employment, in exchange for mandatory relinquishment of the employee's right to sue his or her employer for the tort of negligence. The tradeoff between assured, limited coverage and lack of recourse outside the worker compensation system is known as "the compensation bargain." While plans differ between jurisdictions, provision can be made for weekly payments in place of wages (functioning in this case as a form of disability insurance), compensation for economic loss (past and future), reimbursement or payment of medical and like expenses (functioning in this case as a form of health insurance), and benefits payable to the dependents of workers killed during employment (functioning in this case as a form of life insurance). General damages for pain and suffering, and punitive damages for employer negligence, are generally not available in worker compensation plans.
Employees' compensation laws are usually a feature of highly developed industrial societies, implemented after long and hard-fought struggles by trade unions. Supporters of such programs believe they improve working conditions and provide an economic safety net for employees. Conversely, these programs are often criticised for removing or restricting workers' common-law rights (such as suit in tort for negligence) in order to reduce governments' or insurance companies' financial liability. These laws were first enacted in Europe and Oceania, with the United States following shortly thereafter.
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