This bill would change the New York State's Workers' Compensation Law and permit non-disabled persons on voluntary leave to receive up to 14 weeks of disability benefits. The Business Council opposes enactment of this legislation:
Disability benefits were never designed for non-disabled persons New York State is one of only five states in the country and Puerto Rico 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 by 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. This bill would more than double the maximum disability benefit from the current $170 per week to $380 per week in 2008. It is a recipe for significant increases in the cost of creating and retaining (and losing) jobs in New York State.
For these reasons, The Business Council opposes this legislation and respectfully urges that it not be enacted.