Fair Play Act

Law to Prevent Misclassification of Drivers Takes Effect

New definition of "employee" in commercial goods transportation industry curbs misclassification.
By: | May 2, 2014 • 2 min read

Nearly 40,000 employers misclassified more than 700,000 workers in New York between 2002 and 2005. The findings by Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations has led to the enactment of a law aimed at curbing the practice among commercial goods transportation services employees.

“This new law amends the Labor Law and the Workers’ Compensation Law to establish a presumption of employment in the commercial goods transportation industry,” according to a bulletin on the New York Workers’ Compensation Board’s website. “The technical amendments were signed by Governor Cuomo on March 17, 2014. The new statute will take effect on April 10, 2014, and for workers’ compensation purposes, applies to accidents which occur on or after that date.”

The new law redefines “employee” in the industry. It states “any person performing commercial goods transportation services for a commercial goods transportation contractor is presumed to be an employee of that commercial goods transportation contractor. Commercial goods transportation contractor is broadly defined to include any sole proprietor, partnership, firm, corporation, limited liability company, association, or other legal entity permitted to do business within the state that compensates commercial vehicle drivers who possess any state-issued commercial driver’s license to transport goods in the state of New York.”

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Because of the date of the legislation, any worker injured while performing services for a commercial goods transportation contractor on or after April 10 will be presumed to be the employee of the contractor for workers’ comp purposes. The commercial goods transportation contractor is responsible to compensate the driver for the injuries.

The Fair Play Act comes with some stiff penalties, including fines and jail time. Violators face civil penalties of up to $1,500 for a first violation and up to $5,000 for a subsequent violation within a five-year period. Those who willfully violate the law face civil penalties of up to $2,500 for the first violation per misclassified employee and up to $5,000 for each subsequent violation per misclassified employee within a five-year period.

In addition, employers who willfully violate the provisions of the law may be imprisoned for up to 30 days or fined up to $25,000. For a subsequent offense, the punishment increases to up to 60 days in jail and a fine of up to $50,000.

Nancy Grover is the president of NMG Consulting and the Editor of Workers' Compensation Report, a publication of our parent company, LRP Publications. She can be reached at [email protected]

4 Companies That Rocked It by Treating Injured Workers as Equals; Not Adversaries

The 2018 Teddy Award winners built their programs around people, not claims, and offer proof that a worker-centric approach is a smarter way to operate.
By: | October 30, 2018 • 3 min read

Across the workers’ compensation industry, the concept of a worker advocacy model has been around for a while, but has only seen notable adoption in recent years.

Even among those not adopting a formal advocacy approach, mindsets are shifting. Formerly claims-centric programs are becoming worker-centric and it’s a win all around: better outcomes; greater productivity; safer, healthier employees and a stronger bottom line.

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That’s what you’ll see in this month’s issue of Risk & Insurance® when you read the profiles of the four recipients of the 2018 Theodore Roosevelt Workers’ Compensation and Disability Management Award, sponsored by PMA Companies. These four programs put workers front and center in everything they do.

“We were focused on building up a program with an eye on our partner experience. Cost was at the bottom of the list. Doing a better job by our partners was at the top,” said Steve Legg, director of risk management for Starbucks.

Starbucks put claims reporting in the hands of its partners, an exemplary act of trust. The coffee company also put itself in workers’ shoes to identify and remove points of friction.

That led to a call center run by Starbucks’ TPA and a dedicated telephonic case management team so that partners can speak to a live person without the frustration of ‘phone tag’ and unanswered questions.

“We were focused on building up a program with an eye on our partner experience. Cost was at the bottom of the list. Doing a better job by our partners was at the top.” — Steve Legg, director of risk management, Starbucks

Starbucks also implemented direct deposit for lost-time pay, eliminating stressful wait times for injured partners, and allowing them to focus on healing.

For Starbucks, as for all of the 2018 Teddy Award winners, the approach is netting measurable results. With higher partner satisfaction, it has seen a 50 percent decrease in litigation.

Teddy winner Main Line Health (MLH) adopted worker advocacy in a way that goes far beyond claims.

Employees who identify and report safety hazards can take credit for their actions by sending out a formal “Employee Safety Message” to nearly 11,000 mailboxes across the organization.

“The recognition is pretty cool,” said Steve Besack, system director, claims management and workers’ compensation for the health system.

MLH also takes a non-adversarial approach to workers with repeat injuries, seeing them as a resource for identifying areas of improvement.

“When you look at ‘repeat offenders’ in an unconventional way, they’re a great asset to the program, not a liability,” said Mike Miller, manager, workers’ compensation and employee safety for MLH.

Teddy winner Monmouth County, N.J. utilizes high-tech motion capture technology to reduce the chance of placing new hires in jobs that are likely to hurt them.

Monmouth County also adopted numerous wellness initiatives that help workers manage their weight and improve their wellbeing overall.

“You should see the looks on their faces when their cholesterol is down, they’ve lost weight and their blood sugar is better. We’ve had people lose 30 and 40 pounds,” said William McGuane, the county’s manager of benefits and workers’ compensation.

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Do these sound like minor program elements? The math says otherwise: Claims severity has plunged from $5.5 million in 2009 to $1.3 million in 2017.

At the University of Pennsylvania, putting workers first means getting out from behind the desk and finding out what each one of them is tasked with, day in, day out — and looking for ways to make each of those tasks safer.

Regular observations across the sprawling campus have resulted in a phenomenal number of process and equipment changes that seem simple on their own, but in combination have created a substantially safer, healthier campus and improved employee morale.

UPenn’s workers’ comp costs, in the seven-digit figures in 2009, have been virtually cut in half.

Risk & Insurance® is proud to honor the work of these four organizations. We hope their stories inspire other organizations to be true partners with the employees they depend on. &

Michelle Kerr is associate editor of Risk & Insurance. She can be reached at [email protected]