The Workers Compensation Insurance Rating Bureau of California has recommended the state’s workers’ compensation insurance pure premium rate be increased 4.2 percent for policies effective Jan. 1, 2008.

State Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner will make his own recommendation for the pure premium rate, which may or may not be in line with what the WCIRB recommended.

Although the pure premium rate is only advisory in nature and companies are not required to follow it, many will stay relatively in line with the commissioner’s recommendation.

Additionally, a public hearing will be held Oct. 23 in San Francisco on the WCIRB’s recommendation. The WCIRB has consistently advised decreases in the pure premium since the enactment of several reforms designed to give insurers greater cost certainty and thus attract more competition in the market.

The first comp reforms were enacted in 2003 during the waning days of Gov. Gray Davis’ administration, with further measures passed under his successor Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

In addition to the pure premium recommendation, the WCIRB offered several proposed amendments to the California Workers’ Compensation Uniform Statistical Reporting Plan-1995, the Standard Classification System, Miscellaneous Regulations for the Recording and Reporting of Data, and the California Workers’ Compensation Experience Rating Plan-1995.

The amendments are technical changes designed to clarify procedures for employers to obtain a review of its coverage plan, or a review of any actions or decisions taken by the WCIRB.

Also, the amendments clarify how to classify workers whose job involves activities that could fall under different workers’ comp classifications within the employer’s policy and determine hourly wages for employees who engage in different tasks for the same employer or are paid in several ways, such as commissions on sales or billed hours.

The amendments would also increase the wage threshold for certain skilled positions, such as carpentry, to reflect inflation. As an example, the maximum hourly wage for an employee’s work to be classified as an automatic sprinkler installation was increased form $25 to $26.