TRENTON – Senator Paul A. Sarlo, Chairman of the Senate Labor Committee, today made the following comments after the panel collected testimony from those involved with the workers’ compensation system in New Jersey.
Senator Sarlo, D-Bergen, Essex and Passaic, said legislative reforms would be forthcoming based on the testimony.
“Overall, this is a good system that could use some fine-tuning to make it even better. After all, the system’s been around for nearly a hundred years. I have the sense there will be bipartisan support for whatever reforms we enact.
“In general, I would favor giving more teeth to the workers’ compensation judges when it comes to imposing sanctions on insurance companies for non-compliance. There can be no tolerance of foot dragging by insurance companies in making payments to workers.
“As far as the workers’ comp judges themselves are concerned, I believe it makes good sense to have their nominations vetted by the State Bar Association in the same manner as other State judicial nominees.
“We also have to take a hard look at punishing employers who refuse to obtain workers’ comp insurance which puts a greater financial burden on those who do comply.
“It’s important that we don’t malign the good insurance companies that service their policyholders in a prompt and efficient manner. I’m referring to companies like New Jersey Manufacturers which has been around almost as long as the workers’ comp system itself.
“We also intend to improve the classification system of employees to insure that companies all pay their fair share to support the system.
“It’s also apparent that we can eliminate red tape on the administration and paper-work ends of the system so no workers fall through the cracks.”