Senator John Flanagan (2nd Senate district) today announced that historic new legislation to reform workers’ compensation insurance has been signed into law, resulting in increased benefits for injured workers and reduced costs for businesses in New York State.
"This historic workers’ compensation reform law provides much-needed financial assistance for injured workers and substantially reduces the financial burden on businesses", said Senator Flanagan. "With the implementation of aggressive anti-fraud measures, the workers’ compensation system will be more effective and help protect both employees and employers."
Senator Flanagan noted that benefits for injured workers have not increased in more than a decade, and that New York employers currently pay some of the highest workers compensation premiums in the nation. These newly enacted insurance reforms are estimated to save businesses over $1 billion and reduce employer costs by 10-15%. The new law also includes provisions to implement vigorous anti-fraud measures against businesses and workers.
Highlights of the Workers’ Compensation Reform Law include:
-Increasing the maximum weekly benefit for injured workers from $400 to $500 in the first year, $550 in the second year, $600 in the third year, and to two-thirds of the average weekly wage in New York in the fourth year. Once the maximum benefit reaches two-thirds of the average weekly wage, the maximum benefit will be indexed annually.
-Increasing the minimum weekly benefit from $40 to $100.
-Reducing employer costs for workers’ compensation insurance premiums by 10-15%, an estimated savings of nearly $1 billion.
-Strong anti-fraud measures including the ability to stop work on a job site where a company has failed to purchase workers’ compensation insurance for its workers, and higher criminal penalties for violators.
-The Second Injury Fund, initially set up to help injured World War II veterans, will be closed due to its high employer costs and costly loopholes.
In addition to the reforms addressed in the legislation, a legislative Task Force will work with the Superintendent of Insurance, the Department of Labor and Workers’ Compensation Board to pursue additional reforms and make recommendations about additional legislation.
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