New York Governor Eliot Spitzer has released details of an agreement reached with lawmakers to reform the state's workers' compensation system.
Spitzer says that under the agreement, benefits for injured workers will be increased for the first time in more than a decade, and employer costs would be reduced by 10 to 15 percent.
The maximum weekly benefit for injured workers would increase from $400 to $500 in the first year, $550 in the second year, $600 in the third year, and to two-thirds of the average weekly wage in New York in the fourth year. Once the maximum benefit reaches two-thirds of the average weekly wage, the maximum benefit would be indexed annually. The minimum weekly benefit will be increased from $40 to $100.
Cost savings would be achieved by setting maximum number of years that some injured workers can receive cash benefits.
The agreement also includes new anti-fraud measures, such as the ability to stop work on a job site where a company has failed to purchase workers' compensation insurance for its workers, higher criminal penalties for violators, and debarment provisions.
Under the deal, a fund known as the Second Injury Fund, which is now financed by assessments passed through to employers, would also be closed.