The Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) program implements its own system for managing claims and resolving disputes. It can provide numerous benefits for California employers who have signed certain types of collective bargaining agreements with their employees’ union.
The benefits of an ADR program may include:
The primary objective of the program is to give employers and their employees the opportunity to handle and resolve workers' compensation disputes themselves with the professional assistance of an expert called an ombudsperson. The ombudsperson’s sole function is to aid and counsel union employees regarding claims, complaints, and inquiries, and to explain the effects of the law so that disputes are resolved at the earliest possible time. By resolving problems early, employers can lessen the risk that claims will escalate to expensive lawsuits.
In Massachusetts in 1992, Bechtel Construction Company and the Pioneer Valley Building Trades received legislative authorization for an experiment in a jointly managed workers' compensation program using an alternative dispute resolution process. The program was so successful that it served as a model for other states' legislation.
As part of 1993 workers’ compensation reform, the California Legislature added Labor Code Section §3201.5 authorizing ADR programs for construction contractors. In 1996, State Fund wrote its first ADR group program. Under Labor Code Section §3201.7, ADR programs were extended to all industries other than construction, effective January 1, 2004.
Note: State Compensation Insurance Fund is not a branch of the State of California.