What’s the difference between the NYS WCB and NYSIF?
There’s a big difference between the New York State Workers Compensation Board (“NYS WCB”) and the New York State Insurance Fund (“NYSIF”), although I understand why the difference is not immediately apparent.
The NYS WCB is the state regulatory agency that administers claims by employees who are injured in the course and scope of their employment or become ill due to their work. In addition to workers compensation claims, it also ensures compliance with coverage requirements and issues penalties to employers who fail to provide mandatory coverage.
“The Board” also administers claims by employees who are unable to work because of an illness or injury that occurred outside of work. These disability (“DB”), or short-term disability (“STD”), claims include Paid Family Leave (“PFL”).
The NYSIF is a quasi-state insurance company that provides WC, DB, and PFL insurance to employers who have workers in New York. This includes out-of-state employers who have employees (or misclassified independent contractors) working in New York.
Usually, if you have received a notice from the NYS WCB, it relates to a potential claim or penalty against your business. If you have received a notice from the NYSIF, it probably relates to your premiums or a claim filed by an injured or ill employee.
What’s the difference between the NYS WCB and the DOL?
First, note that there is a federal Department of Labor (“DOL”) and a NYS DOL. As their names suggest, these regulatory agencies, or departments, ensure employers comply with federal and state labor and employment laws. They also administer unemployment insurance (“UI”) benefits programs.
The NYS WCB ensures employers with employees in New York comply with a very specific set of laws relating to workplace injuries and illnesses. It also administers employee claims and adjudicates controversies about those claims.
Why am I being audited (or penalized) if all my workers are independent contractors?
It depends. I highly recommend you consult an attorney to ensure you have properly classified your workers. In the simplest description, independent contractors are independent business owners with contracts. In New York City, you (the client) might even be the one responsible for ensuring there is a contract between you and your vendor. If you are being audited or penalized, you may have misclassified a worker the state believes is your employee—regardless of whether there was a contract. Commonly misclassified workers are:
- Actors and other performers
- Administrative assistants
The government agencies have broad discretion to find an employment relationship, and their determinations are very subjective. I do not recommend you try to handle audits or fight penalties without legal counsel.
This post is a general overview of employee protection agencies in New York. It is not legal advice and could be deemed attorney advertising. If you require information or advice applied to your unique situation, please consult counsel in each of the jurisdictions where you pay workers.
Want to check your classifications?
Nance L. Schick, Esq., is a workplace attorney, ethno-religious mediator, and conflict resolution coach based in New York City. Her goal is to keep managers and small business owners out of court and build their conflict resolution skills so everyone has a better work experience. She is creator of the Third Ear Conflict Resolution process, author of DIY Conflict Resolution, and an award-winning entrepreneur acknowledged by Super Lawyers (ADR, 2018, 2019 & 2020), the New York Economic Development Corporation/B-Labs (Finalist, Best for NYC 2015 & 2016), U.S. Chamber of Commerce (2015 Blue Ribbon Small Business), Enterprising Women Magazine (Honorable Mention, 2014 Woman of the Year awards).