Advocates for the workers’ compensation bill that passed the Senate in May and the Assembly on the last day of the most recent legislative session say that the bill will benefit workers. Some members of the business community argue that the bill may put small businesses out of business if it becomes law.
What would change if the governor signs this new legislation?
What the bill does
If the governor signs the bill into law, it will redefine temporary total disability as a person’s inability to perform a job. Currently, employees who qualify for total disability because of a workplace injury receive two-thirds of their weekly salary. Employees receiving partial disability payments receive a lesser amount. The law would award the full two-thirds payment to any person who has a partial disability unless the employer provides that person with alternative light-duty work. Employees will not have to seek other employment that they can do while partially disabled.
What the disagreement is
The bill’s sponsor says that he backed the legislation because of concerns in the workers’ compensation community that the existing law on partial disability is being interpreted too narrowly. Critics claim that the bill will drive up insurance rates and harm small employers. While advocates believe the change provides injured workers with a fair wage during their disability, critics insist it encourages employees who could return to work to continue to collect disability instead.
The governor must decide on the bill by the end of the year. Lobbyists for both sides of the argument are likely to continue to attempt to sway the governor until then.