Harness drivers, blacksmiths & veterinarians

As a result of the diligent efforts of the Empire State Harness Horsemen’s Alliance, consisting of the Harness Horse Association of Central New York, Vernon, New York, the Monticello Harness Horsemen’s Association, Monticello, New York, the Saratoga Harness Horsepersons Association, Saratoga Springs, New York, the Standardbred Owners Association, Inc. of New York, Yonkers, New York and the Western Harness Horsemen’s Association, Buffalo/Batavia, New York, the following result has been secured for the benefit of all New York State horsemen, including our T-bred counterparts.

As Joe Faraldo , spokesperson for the Alliance added, “The Harness Associations have been working on this reform for over two years and this new underwriting directive is meant to end the practice of adding the payments made to independent contractors – harness drivers, blacksmiths, and veterinarians – as part of the premium that our owners and trainers were paying to secure the required Worker’s Compensation coverage.”

The following is the text of a Memo dated July 26, 2011 from the New York State Insurance Fund:

TO: ALL UNDERWRITING PERSONNEL ___________________________________________ Re: Harness Drivers, Blacksmiths and Veterinarians ____________________________________________

As a result of the recent WCB decision involving a harness driver, underwriting procedures regarding certain types of individuals associated with these businesses have been amended. Also, underwriting has decided to also change its position regarding blacksmiths and veterinarians.

Effectively immediately, underwriters should no longer make premium charges for harness drivers on the policies of owners or race tracks. Based on the ruling, the WCB found the harness driver to be an independent contractor and not entitled to workers’ compensation benefits.

In addition, effective immediately, payment made by trainers and owners to veterinarians and blacksmiths should not be picked up as payroll. Veterinarians and blacksmiths are to be considered independent contractors unless they work exclusively for one operation and are considered to be a member of the operation’s staff.

This applies to both harness and thoroughbred racing.

Underwriters should be reminded to follow these instructions until further notified. The UPM chapter 46 should be updated shortly.

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