The Business Council of New York State, Inc., a broad-based, statewide membership organization of over 4,000 companies, chambers of commerce and trade associations has reviewed the aforementioned legislation and opposes its enactment.
This proposed legislation would force employers to pay workers' compensation benefits while a case is being appealed. Decisions, made by Administrative Law Judges, are often appealed to the Workers' Compensation Board which has the authority to overturn such decisions. In overturning these decisions, the Workers' Compensation Board may rule that a case in non-compensable. Therefore, this legislation would prematurely mandate employers to pay claims that are on appeal, which may later be determined non-compensable. This proposal runs contrary to our system of due process.
Further, this legislation would create significant costs for employers. Once an award is made to a claimant, payment cannot be recouped from the claimant. The payment is made from the Workers' Compensation Board's administrative expense fund. This fund is financed by the employer community who pays assessments into the fund. When a payment is made from the administrative expense fund, all employers share that cost and pay a higher assessment.
If the issue is to expedite the Workers' Compensation Board's decisions, that goal has already been achieved. The Workers' Compensation Board has made tremendous improvements in the area of timeliness of their decisions. It must be stated however, that
even if this were an issue, the solution should not be requiring the pre-payment of awards.
Regarding the interest provisions, the current statutory provisions pertaining to interest are sufficient and need not be changed. We urge that this bill be held.