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New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu has vetoed a bill that would have required injured workers who return to the job to be paid at the same salary they previously earned.
S.B. 99, introduced in January by Sen. Kevin Cavanaugh, D-Manchester, would have altered the state’s current definition of “gainful employment” as it related to workers compensation partial disability claims. The bill, vetoed Friday, would have required that employees returning to work after a partial disability be placed in “gainful employment” that “reasonably conforms” to the employee’s age, training and capacity, and is “similarly remunerative” as the employee’s pre-injury work.
A spokesperson for the governor could not be immediately reached for comment.
The Senate passed the bill by a 14-10 margin in March. The bill passed the state’s House in May with a 204-152 vote.
Several industry groups criticized the change in the definition of “gainful employment” to require employers to pay partially disabled workers the same salary, even if the job they have been placed in is of far less value than their former position.
"SB 99 upsets the careful balance between employers and injured employees,” Jim Roche, president of the Concord, New Hampshire-based Business and Industry Association of New Hampshire, said in a news release in July. “Now is not the time to be adding to employer costs in the form of higher workers' compensation insurance premiums.”
The Oklahoma Supreme Court ruling in April that deemed it unconstitutional for employers to suspend workers compensation benefits for employees who went back to work after experiencing a work injury could make workers comp rates increase.