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Legislative Memo

518.465.7511

BILL:

S.1501-A (Morahan)

Support

SUBJECT:

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

 

DATE:

May 19, 2006

 

This is an amended version of S.1501 which would change the New York State's Workers' Compensation Law and permit non-disabled persons on voluntary leave to receive disability benefits. While some changes were made which could be viewed as less harmful to New York State businesses, other changes were added which not only further interfere in employer/employee relationships but also interfere in employer/union collective bargaining relationships.

The Business Council opposes enactment of this legislation:

Interference in Employer/Employee and Employer/Union relations
This amended version now requires employers, who voluntarily offer sick time pay or sick days as a fringe benefit, to allow the use of this voluntary paid time for attending educational meetings at their child's school and for other family and household member's illnesses.

It also requires employers, who collectively bargain sick time pay or sick days as part of a collective bargaining agreement, to allow the use of this collectively bargained paid time for attending educational meetings at their child's school and for other family and household member's illnesses, even if the union never included it in its collective bargaining proposals. This is unacceptable to businesses and should be unacceptable to labor unions.

Legislators need to stay out of employer/employee and employer/union relationships.

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.

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 decades, 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.

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 overtime. 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.

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