A large portion of the labor force of this State annually is disabled from pursuing gainful employment by reason of nonoccupational sickness or accident and as a result suffers serious loss of income. In approximately ten per cent of the cases such sickness or accident can be expected to cause disability of more than one week's duration. More than two-fifths of the employees in private employment have either no fixed legal protection against wage loss from disabling nonoccupational sickness or accident, or only protection for a period of one workweek or less; more than one-third of the workers covered by formal sick leave plans are not protected against disability extending beyond two workweeks. Since the hardship for workers and their families mounts with the extension of the duration of the disability from whatever cause, there is a need to fill the existing gaps in protection and to provide benefits to individuals in current employment that will afford to them reasonable compensation for wage loss caused by disabling nonoccupational sickness or accident where the disability is temporary in nature and exceeds the period of one workweek. This legislation is designed not to impede the growth of voluntary plans which afford additional protection.
This chapter shall be liberally construed in the light of the stated reasons for its enactment and its declared purpose.
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