Last Updated: January 9, 2023

Proposed Change in New York Workers’ Comp law Leaves Business Leaders and Attorneys Divided   

New York is set to change the workers’ compensation insurance law, which would make it easier for employees to seek additional benefits during recovery from injuries. Bill S768/A1118 recently passed the state senate and the assembly and is headed to Governor Kathy Hochul’s desk for approval. 

The bill could change workers’ comp requirements by defining employees as having “temporary total disability” if they cannot perform their previous duties due to an injury or if the employer cannot arrange another duty that considers the limitations of the injury. 

“The new bill will make it more accessible for the injured employees to receive the benefits that they deserve, “said Sen. Andrew Gournardes, a bill sponsor. It will clearly define temporary total disability under New York state law and encourage employers to offer lighter work to the injured employees rather than terminating them when they are unable to perform their duties,” he added.

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Under the new bill, even employees who are partially disabled can qualify for full benefits if their employer can’t find lighter jobs for them. Full employee benefits are typically two-thirds the average employee wage in New York. 

But the proposed bill has also received criticism from business leaders who are worried that the change would add more pressure on businesses already struggling due to the pandemic and inflation. 

According to Neil Cunningham, a senior claim management consultant at Lawley, the bill is expected to affect small businesses more than the bigger ones in the state. “Our clients are concerned, as it could mean more expensive claims and increased insurance spending for them, “he said. “We haven’t come up with a percentage yet, but we believe it’s going to be significant.” 

“Gov. Hochul is currently reviewing the legislation,” said Avi Small, the governor’s spokesperson. The state of New York currently ranks 29th in maximum benefit levels for injured workers despite the high cost of living there. 

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