The COVID Crisis: NY Workers’ Compensation Alliance Wants To Expand Workers Compensation

April 21, 2020

The New York Workers’ Compensation Alliance today called on Albany to guarantee workers’ compensation to include COVID-19 workplace exposure for all workers.

The New York Workers’ Compensation Alliance is calling on Albany to:

Amend Section Three of the Workers’ Compensation law to include all work that results in exposure to COVID-19.

Amend the Workers’ Compensation Law to provide for full benefits until the injured may return to their at injury job, create a presumption that those on SSDI have a permanent total disability, amend the administration of the system so as to guarantee that no case is closed without a hearing and a decision in the injured workers language.

Amend the Volunteer Ambulance and Firefighter’s law to provide coverage to volunteers who are exposed to COVID-19 while in the line of duty.

Amend multiple elements of the General Municipal Law, to create a registration system similar to 911 for essential employees, that a COVID claim arising from essential work is presumed to arise from essential work and extends the notice provisions beyond 30 days as well as amending section 207 to enhance benefits for police, peace and correction officers.

Amend the Retirement and Social Security Law to create presumptions for those who become disabled or die due to COVID-19 as a result of the performance of their duties, and thereby make them eligible for a 75% pension benefit.

“New York needs stronger protections for all workers and especially essential and frontline workers who are being exposed to this deadly virus while on the job,” said William Crossett, Co-Chair of the New York Workers’ Compensation Alliance. “These necessary amendments will help essential workers from volunteer firefighters to healthcare workers to transit workers get the protections they need and deserve.”

This push to help COVID-19 victims comes on the heels of a new study by James A. Parrott of The New School’s Center for New York City Affairs. The report details how New York State once had a fair workers’ compensation system, but changes have reduced payments to workers but super-charged insurance company profits.

“This report sounds the alarm that there is a need for a real look at workers’ compensation in New York following years of eroding benefits, high rates of workplace injuries and fatalities and skyrocketing workers’ comp profits,” said report author James A. Parrott, Director of Economic and Fiscal Policy at the Center for New York City Affairs.

Profits have soared for New York’s workers’ compensation insurance companies while payments to help workers and their families lag those in many states. The report found that the actual dollar amount of worker benefits fell 28 percent from 2014-18 while insurance profits tripled.

To read the full report, see here.

The Workers’ Compensation Alliance is a statewide coalition of injured workers and other stakeholders committed to protecting the rights of injured workers under the New York State Workers’ Compensation Law.

Photo credit: Harlem Watchtower construction workers.

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