Bill would relieve harness industry workers of workers’ compensation premiums

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Harness industry workers such as catch drivers, blacksmiths and veterinarians would get relief from workers’ compensation premiums under recently introduced state legislation.

Such independent contractors are currently considered “employees” by State Insurance Fund auditors and are wrongly assessed workers’ compensation premiums, the Empire State Harness Horsemen’s Alliance said.

The alliance is composed of standardbred horsemen’s groups from throughout the state, including the Saratoga Harness Horse Person’s Association.

“It’s really a very frustrating situation here in New York because workers’ compensation premiums are being wrongly assessed and collected for people who are really not employees, and when they are hurt, these same independent contractors cannot collect because they never were employees to begin with,” alliance spokesman Joe Faraldo said.

The bill has been introduced by Gary Pretlow, D-Yonkers, chairman of the Assembly Racing, Wagering and Gaming Committee.

The proposed law would help the harness racing industry because owners, trainers and other harness horsemen would no longer have to pay thousands of dollars worth of premiums that help no one, Faraldo said.

— By Paul Post

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