Following years of outcry from business and labor leaders, Assemblyman Tom McKevitt (R,C,I-East Meadow) today secured passage of long-awaited workers’ compensation reform legislation. Assembly passage of the legislation comes a week after a bipartisan agreement was reached.
“For nearly a decade, the workers’ compensation system in our state was outdated and out of touch with the needs of business leaders and employees throughout the state,” McKevitt said. “The system was broken and in need of desperate repairs, and with today’s passage of these sweeping reforms we have taken a balanced approach that will benefit all who are affected by workers’ compensation.”
For years, business leaders cited the failure to change the workers’ compensation system as a leading factor in poor business growth that has forced countless businesses to leave New York. New York has the second-highest workers’ compensation cost per case while being ranked near the bottom in benefits.
The bipartisan agreement will:
- Provide cost savings to businesses by capping permanent partial disability benefits, while providing continued medical care and establishing a safety net to assist injured workers’ return to employment;
- Increase the current maximum weekly benefit rate for injured workers from $400 to $500 with increases over a period of four years to two-thirds of the state’s average weekly wage;
- Annually index the maximum benefit for injured workers to provide further increases to counter the effect of inflation and increased cost-of-living;
- Increase penalties for workers’ compensation insurance fraud; and
- Empower the New York State Insurance Department, Workers’ Comp, and the Department of Labor to collaborate to enact additional reforms that will streamline the existing system.
"Once signed into law by Governor Spitzer, the reforms included in this legislation will greatly benefit small businesses right here in our community," said McKevitt, a newly-appointed member of the Assembly Small Business Committee. “I am hopeful that this will be the first in many reforms that will help lessen the burden of high cost for small businesses struggling to meet their bottom line.”