N.H. Promises to Fix Workers’ Compensation Law for Contractors

December 7, 2007

New Hampshire state lawmakers from both parties said this week they hope to quickly fix a workers’ compensation law when they return to the Statehouse in the new year.

Earlier this year the Legislature closed a loophole that had allowed some contractors to avoid paying workers compensation fees by hiring workers as independent subcontractors.

But the reform had unintended consequences, because it forced the owners of small contracting companies to pay for workers compensation for themselves at construction industry rates, even if the owners rarely visited job sites, said Sen. Maggie Hassan.

“What was wrong with our reform was it cast its net too wide,” Hassan said. The proposed fix would refund most of what the affected contractors paid for policies for their owners under the current law.

Hassan said the proposed fix also would exempt independent snowplowers and lawn mowers from being required to have workers compensation coverage to get state highway department contracts.

Two state senators from each party, including Senate President Sylvia Larsen, along with Republican State Rep. Gene Chandler, said they will take up the issue on Jan. 2 when the Legislature convenes.

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