Assembly approves Rep. Casimiro and Sen. Ciccone’s legislation protecting workers’ access to health insurance coverage

 

            STATE HOUSE – The General Assembly today passed legislation (2024-H 7795B, 2024-S 2901B) sponsored by Rep. Julie A. Casimiro and Sen. Frank A. Ciccone that prohibits contractors and subcontractors from paying employees the cash equivalent of any applicable health care benefit in lieu of actually purchasing the health care benefit.

            “This piece of legislation is about ensuring that employees receive the critical benefits that they are rightfully owed.  If health insurance is part of an employees benefit package, then the employer must provide that coverage.  Anything less is unacceptable.  This bill will protect employees from employers who are trying to circumvent their labor agreements and it will keep our employees supported and healthy through vital and promised health insurance coverage,” said Representative Casimiro (D-Dist. 31, North Kingstown, Exeter).

            “If a contractor is promised health benefits, they deserve those benefits and the cash equivalent of the cost of those benefits will do nothing to support and protect the health of the contractor.  There’s a reason why unscrupulous employers try offering cash instead of health care benefits and it’s because it saves them time and money and this practice is in no way for the benefit of the employee.  This bill will end this scam and protect employees from this shameful practice,” said Senator Ciccone (D-Dist. 7, Providence, Johnston).

            Beginning on July 1, 2024, the legislation states that a contractor or subcontractor is not permitted to make a payment of the cash equivalent of any applicable health care benefit directly to the employee in lieu of actually purchasing the health care benefit for the employee for the applicable time period. The contractor or subcontractor must actually purchase the health care benefit for the employee for the covered period of time from a licensed third-party health care provider.

            An exemption would be provided for any employee currently receiving a health care benefit because of their relationship as a child, spouse or domestic partner of a covered person and for any employee who is employed on a “short term basis,” which would mean a period of 90 days or less.

            The contractor or subcontractor must provide proof of purchase for the health care benefit to the employee and the employee’s bargaining agent, if applicable. 

            Any contractor or subcontractor who fails to comply with the requirements would be required to pay a civil penalty to the director of Labor and Training in an amount of not less than $1,000 and not greater than $3,000 per violation. Penalties would be recoverable in a civil action pursuant to the legislation by the director of Labor and Training.

            Any employee or bargaining agent who has been aggrieved by the failure of a contractor or subcontractor to actually purchase the health care benefit for employees and provide the employee and/or their bargaining agent with proof of purchase under the legislation would be able to pursue a private right of action, as well.

            The bill now heads to the governor for consideration.

 

 

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