No one can blame an employer for trying to reduce workers’ comp costs through a return-to-work program. But an employer might run into trouble if the state workers’ comp board finds the policy to be illegal.
Erie County, NY, wanted to cut its $11 million annual outlay for workers’ comp payments.
So the County Executive, Chris Collins, announced a new policy: Injured employees would have to come to work and get their workers’ comp checks from their supervisors.
New York’s Workers’ Compensation Board ruled the policy was illegal. Specifically, the board said the Erie County policy violated the law that workers’ comp payments must be “periodic, prompt, in like manner as wages and direct.”
The Buffalo News reports Collins’ administration has backtracked a bit, but has refused to entirely end the policy. A spokesman says only workers who aren’t permanently disabled and might be fit for light duty would have to collect their checks from their supervisors.
The workers’ comp board had been deciding a challenge filed by an Erie County correctional facility officer who was injured when she broke up a fight between inmates. The worker had been awarded permanent partial disability. She had received notice that she would have to personally pick up her biweekly checks at sheriff’s headquarters.
The workers’ comp board said requiring employees in that situation to pick up their checks “overly burdens an injured worker by adding unnecessary traveling costs and potentially places an injured worker at risk of further injury.”
The injured officer had been receiving $390 a week — slightly more than $20,000 a year.
What do you think of the county’s policy and the state workers’ comp board’s ruling? You can leave a reply below.