new york 31503 640

N.Y. Gov. Hochul Signs Bill Increasing Minimum Benefits for Injured Workers

04 Oct, 2023 Liz Carey

new york 31503 640

Albany, NY ( – Earlier this month, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul signed legislation that will increase the minimum workers’ compensation benefits, as part of a package of legislation designed to protect workers.

S1161-A2034 will increase the minimum benefits for workers’ compensation to $275 per week in 2024, and $325 in 2025. By 2026, the benefit will be increased to one-fifth of the state’s average weekly wage.

If an employee’s wages when they are injured are less than $275 per week, the employee would receive his or her full wages. If a $275 per week equals less than $7 per hour for a full 40-hour work week. The new compensation would be for permanent or temporary total disability due to an accident or disablement resulting from an occupational disease.

According to the New York State Workers’ Compensation Board’s 2022 Annual report, the maximum weekly benefit rose to $1,125.46. The board received nearly 11 million claims documents, the report said, with the highest number of claims came from public administration, health care and social assistance, and the transportation and warehousing industries.

Officials said the legislation was designed to protect low wage workers who are injured and can’t work.

“This legislation will help to ensure that all New Yorkers receive the benefits and protections that allow them to work with dignity,” Hochul said. “My administration is committed to making our state the most worker-friendly state in the nation, and I thank the bill sponsors for their partnership in our mission to establish the strongest and most robust protections right here in New York.”

Officials said the new legislation furthers to grand bargain.

“No worker should be left destitute because of a workplace injury and, as the rising cost of living squeezes the budgets of New York’s families, it is essential to raise the minimum benefit injured workers receive while they are disabled,” Assembly member Latoya Joyner, chair of the Assembly Labor Committee, said. “Gov. Hochul’s signature of the Worker’s Compensation Benefit Modernization Act ensures a more secure future for those living with workplace injuries and I appreciate her support.”

Hochul signed the legislation at the NYC Central Labor Council Labor Day breakfast reception.

“We applaud Governor Hochul for signing into law three critical pieces of legislation that ensure New York State leads the way when it comes to protecting workers’ rights,” Mario Cilento, President of the New York State AFL-CIO said. “We are pleased the Governor signed another law that addresses the needs of injured workers. The new law not only provides a much-needed increase to the minimum workers’ compensation benefit, but the benefit will now be indexed resulting in injured workers being treated more fairly moving forward.”

Hochul also signed legislation that would make wage theft a form of larceny which lets prosecutors seek stronger criminal penalties against employers who steal wages from their employees, and a last piece of legislation that would prohibit employers from disciplining employees who elect not to participate in meetings about the employer’s religious or political views.

“Wage theft is a problem that is rampant, especially within the non-union construction industry,” Gary LaBarbera, president of the New York State Building & Construction Trades Council said. “By strengthening the criminal penalties associated with this corrupt activity, we believe the new law provides important tools to help deter the continuing problem of wage theft as it adds another enforcement option for victims. The Building Trades will always fight on behalf of union and non-union workers against unscrupulous contractors that seek to exploit labor.”

Hochul reaffirmed her support to labor.

“To me this is personal,” she said during her speech. “I saw the labor movement lift my grandfather and his brothers out of great poverty, gave them a whole new lease in life…I saw what this did to their families, no one thought about the poverty anymore. They said, ‘We've made it. We've arrived. We can buy a house. We can get a car. We can raise eight kids – in an attic in a small house, but at least we have a house.’ That's what we had. And my family benefited from that. And one generation after my father, we're in the Governor's Office standing with labor because I know what it means.”

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    • Liz Carey

      Liz Carey has worked as a writer, reporter and editor for nearly 25 years. First, as an investigative reporter for Gannett and later as the Vice President of a local Chamber of Commerce, Carey has covered everything from local government to the statehouse to the aerospace industry. Her work as a reporter, as well as her work in the community, have led her to become an advocate for the working poor, as well as the small business owner.

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