The New York Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB) released a draft of impairment guidelines on September 1 that outline changes that would reduce payments specifically to workers that have suffered the diminished use of an arm or a leg while on the job. The labor leaders also believe that the new proposals would make it harder on the injured workers to prove that their injuries can affect their future earning capacity.
Around the country, workers’ compensation insurance covers more than 140 million workers, which is 94% of employees nationwide. But each state has their own laws concerning the details of workers’ compensation, meaning a broken leg could receive different compensation amounts in Arkansas and Oregon.
These new proposed regulations actually come as a result of a legislation signed by Governor Cuomo back in April, which requires the WCB to include advances in medical technologies that can help get workers back to work faster than in previous years. The guidelines are meant to replace laws created back in the early 1900s that focus on establishing the method of evaluating medical impairment and how long it will take to recover from the injury, as reported on Business Insurance.
But according to the labor leaders, these regulations will actually make it harder for the workers to contest their awards. The labor unions believe that this is an unnecessary hurdle the injured will have to go through, as it will standardize the process that decides what compensation is fair, without looking at other factors such as missing work due to the injury. And considering that the average number of days away from work due to occupational injuries was eight days back in 2015, the last time data was available, the cut wages due to lost work could be significant for some.
For example, back in 2015, state employees along with city and local governments paid $1.3 billion towards workers’ compensation in the state. Of that, a full $9 million was used to help people who missed less than two weeks of work.
NY AFL-CIO President Mario Cilento explains to the New York Daily News that overall, these proposals exceeded what was required by Cuomo’s April legislation and should be tossed. In his statement, he said:
“If enacted, this package would drastically reduce awards for workers that lose the use of a body part and introduce changes to the process that would lead to ever increasing uncertainty, delay and litigation for injured workers.”