Legislative Memo


A. 1301 (Nolan)/ S.1501 (Morahan)



Allows Disability Benefits for Non-Disabled Persons and other Time Off



April 21, 2006


This legislation would amend New York State's Workers' Compensation Law and permit non-
disabled persons on voluntary leave to receive disability benefits, mandate up to ten days of
school visit leave for employers of ten or more employees, mandate bereavement leave for
employers of ten or more employees, authorize up to seven full or partial days of paid disability
leave for situations not covered under the federal family and medical leave act, and eliminate the
seven day waiting period for receiving disability benefits.

The Business Council opposes enactment of this legislation:

Disability benefits are not designed for non-disabled persons
New York State is one of only six states in the country with a program requiring partial income
replacement benefits for employees out of work due to injuries or illnesses not related to work.
This bill takes the six decade long compact of providing partial income replacement benefits to
workers ill or injured and unable to work and stands it on its head. Providing benefits to workers
who are able to work but are on a voluntary leave from work for personal reasons is a disservice
to those in real need of the benefits, is unnecessary, and is an unjustified incursion by the
government into private, voluntary issues of paid time off between an employer and its employees
or its unions.

Greater use brings higher costs
Providing for broader use of disability benefits beyond their original intention will increase actual
use of the benefit and, as a simple economic issue, increase costs for everyone's disability
insurance. This additional cost will be recouped from either increasing the cost of the goods or
services provided by the employer to its customers or by reducing the level of existing or
anticipated employee fringe benefits.

Give employers and employees choice and flexibility
Regarding the mandating of school visit leave, bereavement leave and family emergency and
medical care leave, there is a much simpler way, besides intrusive government mandates, to deal
with the majority of these legitimate time-off needs. At the federal level, there has been a move
toward the allowing of compensatory time for private sector employees who work overtime and
would like the choice of additional paid time off instead of the current required payment of

Employees constantly request this option from their employers but the federal Fair Labor
Standards Act does not permit it for private sector employers. This approach would provide more
choices to employees to satisfy their particular time-off requirements and leave the government
out of an area where they do not belong. Supporters of this bill should urge the New York State
Congressional Delegation to support amending the FLSA and permitting compensatory time-off.

Changing the DBL law into a government mandated sick-day plan
This bill would eliminate the seven day waiting period for receiving disability benefits, which has
been part of the program for fifty years, and allow the receipt of benefits beginning with the first
day of disability. Aside from the obvious avalanche of additional administrative record keeping,
this provision would remove a key provision which has recognized that an occasional absence due
to illness or injury does not measure up to the definition of a disability, the core reason for
creation of the program years ago. It ignores the foundations of the disability program and turns
it into another government entitlement, a simple paid time-off program.

For these reasons, The Business Council opposes this legislation and respectfully urges that it not
be enacted.