LOSAP Statute Amended

 

Repeal of Exception for Activities Performed by Employees of Political Subdivions

 

When Article 11-A of the New York State General Municipal Law (volunteer firefighter LOSAP statute) was originally drafted, it included provision §217(f), that prohibited volunteer firefighters who are also paid employees of a political subdivision of the State from earning credit towards a LOSAP benefit for activities performed during the individual’s regularly assigned work periods.

The Laws of 2015, Chapter 534, has repealed §217(f) effective December 11, 2015.

Therefore, volunteer firefighters who are also employees of political subdivisions (counties, cities, villages, towns, and fire districts) will be able to receive credit for volunteer firefighter activities performed during regularly assigned work periods and after December 11, 2015. Although §217(f) was part of the original statute, it has come into the spotlight as a result of recent audits performed by the Office of the State Comptroller. While §217(f) mainly impacted a volunteer’s ability to receive credit for responding to daytime alarms, there were other situations whereby volunteers were preforming volunteer firefighter activities while on paid time-off, because that time was still during regularly assigned work periods.

LOSAP sponsors should alert the fire department/company of this change, especially those responsible for maintaining the point system records. We suggest posting this newsletter at the firehouse and announcing the change at the next monthly meeting of the fire department/company. If your written point system document includes specific language that reflects this now-repealed statute, the written point system should be modified to reflect this change.

It is important to note that this change to the LOSAP statute does not compel political subdivisions to allow employees who are volunteer firefighter to leave work to respond to routine day-to-day emergencies. There is a section of the labor law that allows members of volunteer fire departments and volunteer ambulance squads to leave work to respond to a declared state of emergency. We suggest that local governments contact their attorney about what steps should be taken to implement a formal policy to address the conditions under which employees will be allowed to leave work to respond to emergencies.

Finally, this bill only repeals §217(f) and not the complementary sections of the volunteer ambulance squad LOSAP statute, which are §219-e(6) and §219-m(6). Therefore, volunteer ambulance workers who are also paid employees of political subdivisions continue to be prohibited from receiving credit for volunteer ambulance worker activities performed during regularly assigned work periods. Penflex has notified several interested parties about this apparent inequity in the hopes that legislation repealing these sections of the volunteer ambulance worker statute will be introduced next year.