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A report released Tuesday by New York Inspector General Lucy Lang details patterns of “egregious workers compensation abuse” by unions representing state correctional officers.
The office concluded that a lost wage benefit of six months at full pay for claims afforded to Security Services Unit members provides a “monetary incentive” for statewide corrections officers to abuse the comp system, something Ms. Lang says is buoyed by existing employment contract terms.
According to the report, employees with the Security Services Unit, which includes corrections officers, are entitled to up to six months of full pay if they become ill or injured on the job without having to choose between using accrued leave time or receiving less than their full pay through the New York State Insurance Fund, the state’s comp insurer.
After the first six months of a claim, a worker can charge their accrued leave credits to continue receiving full pay, after which the worker can receive lost wage benefits paid by the state fund.
The inspector general says that since the enactment of a 2015 collective bargaining agreement, the office received complaints about corrections officers abusing the lost wage benefits, and that the comp abuse led to workplace safety concerns and “significant workers’ compensation-driven staffing shortages” in prisons.
The inspector general recommended revising the lost wage benefit in any future labor agreements.
Ms. Lang said unlike in this situation, the lost wage benefits for other state employees are typically financially capped or otherwise limited.