Both the New York State House and Senate have passed the Justice for Injured Workers Act* which will make it easier for injured workers to seek additional benefits while they recover. Under this Act, a partially disabled worker because of a workplace injury, would receive the full benefit awarded to them as an employee with a total disability throughout their recovery. The exception would be if an employer can provide suitable light duty work until the employee is fully recovered.
Typically, the benefit for a totally disabled injured worker is two-thirds of their average weekly pay for a set period of time. Their benefit will likely be reduced to a percentage of the original amount depending on the severity of the injury before being cleared to return to work at their normal job.
This Act would prohibit a court from using the Wage Compensation Board’s prior decision about an injured worker’s case to deny them an additional hearing regarding their claim.
Business leaders believe these changes would devastate small businesses. They oppose workers who settled their claims being allowed to go to court for additional money which would likely delay their return to work. In addition, the partially disabled worker would not be required to search for other employment to receive their benefits.
The Act would clarify the definition of temporary total disability under New York State law. It will also encourage employers to offer light duty work rather than terminating an employee while they are unable to perform their full duties.
*As of this writing, the Act has not been given to the governor for her signature.