Article by William J Emanuel, Robert Ford, Patricia Kinaga, Allison Michael, Sue Stott
The California Legislature once again has made sweeping changes in the state's employment laws. The new laws and amendments described in this report generally became effective on January 1, 2003, except where other effective dates are noted.
Cal-WARN (AB 2957)
California has enacted its own version of the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act ("WARN"), the federal law that requires employers to give 60-day notices before ordering a plant closing or mass layoff. A detailed description of this new state law is available at the Publications section of Jones Day's Web site, www.jonesday.com.
Family Temporary Disability Leave (SB 1661)
California has long maintained a State Disability Insurance ("SDI") program for employees who are unable to work because of sickness or injury that is not work-related. The program is financed by employees through payroll deductions. This new law expands SDI to include a Family Temporary Disability Insurance ("FTDI") program. The new program will provide up to six weeks of wage replacement benefits to workers who take time off from work to care for a seriously ill child, spouse, parent, or domestic partner, or to care for a new child. As under the SDI program, these benefits will be financed by employees through payroll deductions. The new program will be effective on January 1, 2004, but benefits will be payable for FTDI leave starting on July 1, 2004.
Eligibility for Benefits. Employees will be eligible for FTDI benefits if they are unable to perform their customary work because of a need to care for (1) a new child during the first year after birth or after placement for adoption or foster care, or (2) a seriously ill child, parent, spouse, or domestic partner. However, there will be a waiting period of seven consecutive days before benefits are payable. In addition, an employee will not be eligible for these benefits if another family member is available to provide the care, or if the employee is entitled to receive other benefits specified in the statute.
Maximum Benefits. Benefits will be capped at 55 percent of wages, but they will not exceed the maximum temporary disability benefit under the state workers' compensation law. No more than six weeks of benefits will be paid within any 12-month period.
FMLA/CFRA. The new law states that an employee who is entitled to a leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act ("FMLA") or the California Family Rights Act ("CFRA") must take FTDI leave concurrently with leave taken under those statutes.
Employer's Vacation Option. As a condition of the initial receipt of FTDI benefits during any 12-month period, the employer can require the employee to take up to two weeks of earned but unused vacation leave before receiving the benefits. In that event, the first week of the vacation will be applied to the seven-day waiting period.
Notice to Employees. A notice informing workers of their rights under the SDI and FTDI programs will be provided to employers by the state Employment Development Department ("EDD"). The notice must be given to (1) employees hired on or after January 1, 2004, and (2) employees leaving work on or after July 1, 2004, due to pregnancy or nonoccupational sickness or injury, or the need to provide care for a sick or injured family member or a new child.
Benefit Claims. As under the SDI program, an employee will be required to establish FTDI eligibility by filing a claim for benefits with the EDD. The claim must be supported by a medical certificate establishing the condition of the family member that warrants the care of the employee. In addition, the EDD will develop a certification form for an employee taking leave for the birth or placement of a child. Employees falsely certifying a medical condition are subject to the assessment of a penalty by the EDD.
Voluntary Plans. As under the SDI program, employers will have the option of adopting a "voluntary" plan in lieu of participating in the state FTDI program, provided that the rights accorded to covered employees are greater than those available under the state FTDI program.
Leaves of Absence. The new law does not expressly provide a right to a leave of absence for employees who are eligible to receive FTDI benefits. However, it does include a definition of "family care leave." Moreover, as noted above, it states that an employee who is entitled to leave under the FMLA and the CFRA "must take Family Temporary Disability Insurance (FTDI) leave concurrent with the leave taken under" those statutes. In addition, it requires the EDD to develop a certification form for an employee "taking leave" related to the birth or placement of a child. But it does not state that an employer must grant a leave of absence when an employee is absent for reasons that entitle the employee to benefits under the law. Nevertheless, employers should be cautious not to run afoul of other legal obligations under these circumstances. In many cases, an employee will be entitled to a leave of absence under the FMLA or the CFRA, or under a union contract or the employer's personnel policies. In addition, if an employee is terminated for taking time off while receiving FTDI benefits, it could lead to a claim of wrongful termination in violation of public policy.
Payroll Deductions. The new program is financed by an increase in the worker SDI contribution rate, as determined each year by the EDD, of 0.08 percent for 2004 and 2005. The cap for worker contributions is raised to 1.5 percent, up from 1.3 percent.
Sick Leave (SB 1471)
Under California law, an employer that provides paid sick leave must permit an employee to use, in any calendar year, the amount of sick leave that accrues over six months to attend to an illness of the employee's child, parent, spouse, or domestic partner. This amendment provides that it will be a per se violation of the statute if an employer maintains an absence control policy that counts sick leave taken for that purpose as an absence that may lead to discipline, discharge, demotion, or suspension. In addition, the amendment generally provides that an employee "working under" such a policy is entitled to appropriate relief under the statute. One of the penalties for a violation is actual damages or one day's pay, whichever is greater. Since any employee "working under" the policy is entitled to relief, plaintiffs are likely to contend that, if an employer maintains such a policy, every employee on its payroll would be entitled to one day's pay as a penalty.
Fair Employment And Housing Act
Age Discrimination (AB 1599). Under previous California law, it was a violation of the Fair Employment and Housing Act ("FEHA") for an employer to refuse to hire or employ, or to discharge, dismiss, reduce, suspend, or demote, any individual over 40 because of age. However, it was not a violation for an employer to discriminate against a person in compensation, or in terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of age. Thus, unlike the federal law, an employer could discriminate on the basis of age in granting benefits without violating the state law. The California Supreme Court so held last year in Esberg v. Union Oil Co. of Calif., 28 Cal. 4th 262 (2002).
This amendment was enacted to overrule the Supreme Court's decision in the Esberg case. Under the amended statute, employers may not discriminate in compensation, or in terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, on the basis of age. However, in the process of making that change, the Legislature also reorganized the FEHA, and in doing so it made several other substantive changes.
First, the previous law contained a broad exception for cases where the law compelled or provided for action on the basis of age. This exception has been narrowed by the amendment. Under the amended version of the FEHA, an employer is not prohibited from (1) refusing to employ an individual because of age, if the law compels or provides for that refusal, or (2) inquiring into the age of an applicant, or specifying age limitations, if the law compels or provides for that action.
Second, the prior law provided that it was not unlawful to reject or terminate employment on the basis of age if the applicant or employee failed to meet bona fide requirements for the job or position sought or held. There is no comparable statement in the amended law, except the general exception in the FEHA for bona fide occupational qualifications.
Third, it is now unlawful for an employer to refuse to select a person for a training program leading to employment, or to bar or discharge a person from such a program, because of age.
Fourth, the prior law stated that the ban against age discrimination did not preclude physical and medical examinations of applicants and employees to determine fitness for the job sought or held. This language has been deleted.
Finally, the prior law stated that it did not limit the right of an employer to select the better-qualified person from among all applicants for a job, and it further stated that the burden of proving a violation was on the person claiming that it occurred. This language has also been deleted.
Statute of Limitations (AB 1146). As a general rule, a person who wishes to file a lawsuit under the FEHA must do so within one year after a "right-to-sue" notice is issued by the Department of Fair Employment and Housing ("DFEH"). The amendment generally provides that this statute of limitations will be tolled in cases where (1) the DFEH has deferred its investigation to the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"), or (2) after the DFEH investigates the complaint, the EEOC either performs a "substantial weight" review of the DFEH's determination, or conducts its own investigation.
Job References — Defamation (AB 2868)
The California law of defamation (libel and slander) includes an exception, known as a "privilege," for certain types of statements specified in the law. One of the privileges applies to a statement about the job performance or qualifications of an applicant for employment made by a current or former employer to a prospective employer. The statement is privileged if it (1) is based on credible evidence, (2) is made without malice, (3) is made upon the request of the prospective employer, and (4) does not relate to speech or activities of the applicant that are protected by law.
This amendment adds further protection from liability for an employer that makes such a statement. First, it clarifies that the privilege applies if the employer reasonably believes that the person to whom the statement is made is a prospective employer. Second, it authorizes the employer (or its agent) to answer whether or not it would rehire that individual.
Covenants Not To Compete (AB 601)
California law permits the enforcement of covenants not to compete only under very limited circumstances. This amendment slightly liberalizes the law that restricts these agreements in two respects. First, the law has been broadened somewhat by providing that a covenant not to compete will be enforceable if it is entered into in conjunction with the sale of an ownership interest in any type of "business entity." The enforcement of such a covenant previously was limited to the sale of shares in a corporation and certain other specified transactions. The amendment extends the law to include certain other business entities, including limited partnerships, limited liability partnerships, and limited liability companies. Second, the amendment states that a covenant not to compete can be applied to the entire "geographical area" in which the business being sold has been carried on. Previously, the scope of the covenant was limited to the "county or counties, city or cities" where the business had been carried on. While this language had generally been construed broadly by the courts, the ambiguity in the permissible geographical scope of such an agreement has been eliminated.
Local Labor Standards (AB 2509). The California wage-hour law provides that it is not intended to restrict the exercise of local "police powers" in a more stringent manner. This amendment expands that concept by providing that, where a local jurisdiction expends funds provided by a state agency, operates a program that receives assistance from a state agency, or engages in an activity that receives such assistance, local labor standards will apply as long as they are not in explicit conflict with, or explicitly preempted by, state law. In addition, the state agency cannot require that the local jurisdiction refrain from applying its own labor standards as a condition of receiving the state funds or assistance. This labor-sponsored amendment is designed to prevent state agencies from prohibiting the enforcement of local "living wage" ordinances on projects that are funded by the state, such as job training services.
Inspection/Copying of Payroll Records (AB 2412). Under California law, a private employer is required to (1) furnish its employees with an itemized wage statement, either semimonthly or at the time of each payment of wages, and (2) give current and former employees the right to inspect or copy the payroll records from which this information is taken. This amendment provides that an employer must comply with a request to inspect or copy these records as soon as practicable, but no later than 21 days from the date of the request. The employer may designate the person to whom the request will be made. A violation of this requirement is an infraction under state law. In addition, the employer will be liable for a penalty of $750. An employee can also sue for an injunction to ensure compliance with this requirement and is entitled to an award of costs and reasonable attorney's fees. Impossibility of performance, not caused by the violation, will be a defense for an employer accused of violating this requirement.
Victims of Sexual Assault (AB 2195)
Under state law, an employer may not discharge, or discriminate or retaliate against, a victim of domestic violence for taking time off from work to obtain a restraining order or other relief. Moreover, an employer with 25 or more employees may not take any of these actions against such a victim for taking time off to obtain medical attention or certain other services relating to the domestic violence. This amendment extends these legal protections to victims of sexual assault.
Disclosure of Wages/Working Conditions (AB 2895)
Under prior California law, an employer could not (1) require employees to refrain from disclosing the amount of their wages, (2) require an employee to sign a waiver or other document denying the right to disclose that information, or (3) discharge, formally discipline, or otherwise discriminate against, for job advancement, an employee who discloses it. This amendment expands the scope of the law by eliminating the requirement that the discrimination relate to "job advancement." In addition, the amendment extends the law beyond disclosure of wages, to include the disclosure of information about the employer's working conditions. However, the amended law does not protect the disclosure of trade secrets or other proprietary information, or information that is subject to a legal privilege, without the employer's consent.
Illegal Immigrants (SB 1818)
The California Legislature has amended various state codes in response to the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Hoffman Plastic Compounds, Inc. v. NLRB, 535 U.S. 137 (2002). In that case, the Supreme Court held that federal immigration policy, as expressed by Congress in the Immigration Reform and Control Act, foreclosed the National Labor Relations Board from awarding back pay to an undocumented alien who had never been legally authorized to work in the United States. The purpose of the California Legislature in enacting this bill, as reflected in its legislative history, was to reject the Supreme Court's decision in the enforcement of state law.
The legislation provides that the protections, rights, and remedies available under state law are available to all individuals, regardless of immigration status, who have been employed, or have applied for employment, in California. The only exception is a reinstatement remedy prohibited by federal law. In addition, it provides that a person's immigration status is irrelevant to the issue of liability under state labor, employment, civil rights, and employee housing laws. Moreover, in proceedings or discovery to enforce those laws, no inquiry will be permitted into a person's immigration status, except where it is shown by clear and convincing evidence that the inquiry is necessary to comply with federal immigration law.
Employment Background Investigations (AB 1068, AB 2868)
California law extensively regulates the collection of background information on employees and job applicants, including information obtained in an "investigative consumer report." In the employment context, this is a report that includes information on an individual's character, general reputation, personal characteristics, or mode of living for the purpose of evaluating the individual for employment, promotion, reassignment, or retention as an employee. (The "consumer" terminology used in this law is confusing when applied to employment, because the law has nothing to do with consumers in that context; it relates instead to information collected on employees and applicants.)
Contents of Report. The law prohibits an "investigative consumer reporting agency" from including various types of information in an investigative consumer report, including certain criminal records and information relating to bankruptcies and tax liens. However, this amendment provides an exception if the employer is explicitly required by a governmental regulatory agency to check for such records when reviewing an individual's qualifications for employment.
Disclosure and Authorization. Under the previous law, if an investigative consumer report was sought for employment purposes — other than suspicion of wrongdoing — the employer was required to notify the individual in writing that a report would be made on his or her character, general reputation, personal characteristics, and mode of living. The law also required the employer to include in the notice the name and address of the agency, the nature and scope of the investigation, and a summary of the provisions that give the individual a right to inspect files maintained by the agency. The amendment broadens these requirements in several respects.
First, it provides that the report can be obtained only if the employer has a "permissible purpose." In the employment context, this means a report used to evaluate the individual for employment, promotion, reassignment, or retention.
Second, the employer must give a "clear and conspicuous" disclosure to the individual who is the subject of the investigation, in a document that consists solely of the disclosure. The disclosure must (1) state that an investigative consumer report may be obtained; (2) identify the purpose of the report; (3) state that it may include information on the individual's character, general reputation, personal characteristics, and mode of living; (4) identify the agency's name, address, and telephone number; (5) notify the individual of the nature and scope of the investigation; and (6) include a summary of the provisions that give the individual a right to inspect files maintained by the agency.
Third, the individual must give written authorization to procure the report.
These requirements do not apply if the employer obtains the report because of suspicion of wrongdoing or misconduct. This exception has been broadened somewhat by the amendment. Under the prior law, the exception applied only if the employer's purpose was to determine whether to retain an employee when it had a good faith belief that he or she was engaged in criminal activity likely to result in a loss to the employer.
Availability of Report. State law previously provided that if an employer requested an investigative consumer report, it was required to provide the individual with a copy of the report and information on who issued it and how to contact that agency. This requirement is changed by the amendment. The law now requires that the employer provide a box on a written form for the individual to check if he or she wishes to receive a copy of the report. If the individual elects to receive a copy of the report, the employer is required to send a copy to the individual within three business days after the employer receives the report. The notice that the report may be requested can be contained in the disclosure form discussed above, or in a separate consent form. In addition, the report must contain the name, address, and telephone number of the person who issued it, and information on how to contact that person. These requirements do not apply if the employer obtains the report because of suspicion of wrongdoing or misconduct.
Denial of Employment. The amendment also provides that, if employment is denied after an investigative consumer report is obtained, the employer must so advise the individual against whom the adverse action is taken and must supply the name and address of the agency making the report.
Information Collected Without Using an Agency. As a result of a controversial amendment that became effective last year, if an employer collected information on an individual's character, general reputation, personal characteristics, or mode of living to evaluate that individual for employment, promotion, reassignment, or retention as an employee, it was required to provide that information to the individual, even if it did not use the services of an investigative consumer reporting agency. However, the new amendment limits this requirement to information obtained on matters of public record. For this purpose, a "public record" is a record of an arrest, indictment, conviction, civil judicial action, tax lien, or outstanding judgment. The employer is required to provide a copy of the public record to the individual within seven days after receipt of the information. However, if a public record is obtained in an investigation because of suspicion of wrongdoing or misconduct, the employer may withhold the information until the investigation is completed.
The amendment also requires the employer to provide on a job application form, or on another form, a box that the individual can check to waive the right to receive a copy of a public record. However, if the employer takes adverse action as a result of the information, it must provide a copy of the record to the individual, regardless of whether he or she waived the right to receive it.
In addition, the amendment states that an employer is not required to provide the same information to an individual more than once.
Relation to Other Laws. The amendment provides that the law regulating investigative consumer reports is not intended to (1) modify the Labor Code provision that entitles employees to inspect personnel records; (2) modify laws on information obtained by employers or employment agencies without the use of an investigative consumer reporting agency for employment reference checks, background investigations, credential verifications, or employee investigations (except as discussed above); or (3) change laws relating to the attorney-client privilege or attorney work product, or require the disclosure of such information.
Litigation Procedures (SB 688)
Two changes in general litigation procedures will significantly increase the burden on employers in defending against lawsuits brought by disgruntled employees or former employees:
Statute of Limitations. The limitation period for most employment-related torts has been extended from one to two years. It appears that this change will apply, for example, to claims for wrongful discharge in violation of public policy.
Summary Judgment. The procedure has been changed to make it more difficult for an employer to obtain summary judgment or summary adjudication of claims in employment-related lawsuits. Specifically, the employer's motion for summary judgment or summary adjudication must now be filed at least 75 days before the hearing on the motion, instead of 28 days, as under the previous law. In addition, the employee's attorney may request the court to continue the hearing to allow additional discovery at any time on or before the date on which the opposition to the motion is due. And if the court determines that the employer has unreasonably failed to allow discovery, it can grant a further continuance or deny the motion. In addition, related changes have been made in appellate procedures that apply if an employer's motion for summary judgment or summary adjudication is granted.
Workers' Compensation (AB 749, AB 486)
The California workers' compensation law has been substantially revised. This summary is limited to an overview of some of the numerous changes in the law.
Benefit Increases. Weekly disability payments have been substantially increased and are expected to result in significant premium increases for compensation insurance. The maximum weekly benefit will be $602 for injuries in 2003, increasing to $840 in 2005. Increases thereafter will be indexed to the percentage of increase in the statewide average weekly wage. In addition, there have been increases in the number of weeks of disability payments and in the amount of death benefits.
Uninsured Employers. The State Labor Commissioner has been directed to maintain a program for targeting employers in industries with the highest incidence of uninsured employers. Other departments and agencies of the state government are required to cooperate with the Labor Commissioner and provide information necessary to carry out the program. Moreover, the Labor Commissioner's field enforcement unit, previously created to ensure compliance with minimum labor standards, will now be responsible for requiring employers to secure compensation insurance. In addition, an employer that fails to obtain coverage can now be assessed a civil penalty of twice the amount it would have paid in premiums for coverage or $1,000 per employee, whichever is greater.
State law requires an annual assessment of California employers to finance a fund that is used to investigate and prosecute workers' compensation fraud. This fund will now also be used for the investigation and prosecution of employers that fail to obtain workers' compensation insurance coverage.
Workers' Compensation Fraud. The minimum civil penalty for engaging in workers' compensation fraud has been increased to $4,000, and the maximum penalty has been increased to $10,000. Additional penalties can be assessed if the person has a related prior felony conviction.
Return-to-Work Program. Subject to funding by the Legislature, the state will establish a program to promote the early and sustained return to work of employees following a work-related injury or illness. The program, if funded by legislative appropriations, will become effective on July 1, 2004. Under the program, the state will provide wage reimbursement, workplace modification expense reimbursement, and premium reimbursement.
Vocational Rehabilitation. The law was also amended to permit employers and injured workers who are represented by an attorney to settle prospective rights to vocational rehabilitation services.
Medical Issues. The amendment generally repeals the presumption that the treating physician's report is correct. However, that presumption still applies if the physician was predesignated by the employee prior to the injury. In addition, the amendment provides for a pharmaceutical fee schedule and an outpatient surgery facility fee schedule.
Alternative Dispute Resolution. Previous law permitted employers in the construction industry that were subject to a collective bargaining agreement to adopt an ADR program for workers' compensation in lieu of the usual administrative procedure. The new law allows a similar ADR "carve-out" for the aerospace and timber industries.
Insurance Rates (AB 1985). This amendment requires that insurance companies charge rates for workers' compensation insurance that are adequate to cover their losses and expenses. The Insurance Commissioner is authorized to disapprove rates if premiums would be inadequate to cover an insurer's losses and expenses, or if they would impair or threaten the solvency of an insurer.
Licensed Contractors — Temporary Employees (AB 2816). This amendment establishes requirements for workers' compensation insurance if a temporary employment agency, employment referral service, labor contractor, or similar company supplies a licensed contractor with employees to perform work for which the license is required, and the contractor is responsible for supervising their work. Under these circumstances, the temporary agency or similar company is responsible for providing workers' compensation insurance, and it is required to pay the premiums for that coverage based on the contractor's experience modification rating. However, it is allowed to pass the cost of the coverage through to the contractor.
Physician Referrals (SB 1907). The provision in the workers' compensation law that prohibits referrals of patients by physicians and other healing arts practitioners to business entities in which they have a financial interest has been amended to conform to federal law. The amendment provides an exception where the referral arrangement meets specified requirements.
Rebuttable Presumptions (AB 2125, AB 1847). The law has been amended to provide a rebuttable presumption that Lyme disease is a compensable injury if it develops or manifests itself during the employment of peace officers or forestry employees. In addition, there is a new rebuttable presumption if a peace officer or firefighter is injured or dies due to exposure to any biological or chemical agent that may be used as a weapon of mass destruction while in the employer's service.
Continuation Coverage (AB 1401). A state law known as Cal-COBRA makes benefit continuation coverage available to employees of small employers that have from two to 19 eligible employees and therefore are not covered by federal COBRA. This statute has been amended to increase the continuation coverage to 36 months for all qualified beneficiaries. The change applies to individuals who begin receiving continuation coverage on or after January 1, 2003.
Under another amendment of Cal-COBRA, a health care service plan or health insurer must offer an individual who has exhausted continuation coverage under federal COBRA the opportunity to continue coverage for up to 36 months from the start of the coverage, if the individual is entitled to less than 36 months of coverage under the federal law. The amendment provides that notification of this coverage's availability must be included in the "notice of the pending termination of COBRA coverage that is required to be provided to COBRA beneficiaries." However, there is no such notice requirement in COBRA. Therefore, it should be sufficient for employers to include a description of the extended coverage under Cal-COBRA with the notice of eligibility for federal COBRA that is sent to all qualified beneficiaries upon the occurrence of a qualifying event. This change becomes operative on September 1, 2003 and applies to individuals who begin receiving COBRA coverage on or after January 1, 2003. The requirement does not apply to specialized plans providing coverage for vision or dental care, or to self-insured plans. These notice requirements imposed on employers may be preempted by federal law.
Conversion Coverage (AB 1401). State law obligates employers to notify an employee of the right to convert group health insurance coverage to individual coverage under most circumstances when the individual's coverage under the group contract is terminated. This amendment increases the time available for an employee to apply for the individual coverage and pay the first premium from 31 days to 63 days. The change will become effective on September 30, 2003, and it does not apply to group contracts entered into, amended, or renewed before that date. As with conversion coverage, the notice obligation imposed on employers may be preempted by federal law.
Health Care Plans — Small Employers (AB 2178). California laws provide access to health care coverage for "small employers," as defined in those laws. In addition, some local governments have adopted so-called "living wage" ordinances, which require employers that do business with the local government entity to pay employees an hourly wage that is higher than the legal minimum wage. These ordinances typically permit a lower hourly rate if the employer provides health care coverage to its employees.
As a result of this amendment, an employer that is subject to a "living wage" law, or other local legislation that regulates minimum hourly compensation, will qualify under state law as a "small employer" for health care coverage purposes. However, the employer may not obtain coverage under those provisions for employees who are not covered by the "living wage" ordinance or other local legislation, with certain exceptions specified in the statute. These changes do not apply if the employer provided health care coverage before January 1, 2003, to employees who were subject to a "living wage" law or other local legislation regulating minimum hourly compensation. The provisions added by this amendment are scheduled to be repealed on January 1, 2007.
Multiple Employer Trust Funds (SB 1880). The state insurance law permits the members of a trade association to create a trust fund for the purpose of providing health care benefits to their employees. This amendment deletes a "sunset" section that would have repealed this authority on January 1, 2004. It also increases the amount of the cash surplus that an association must maintain in such a fund, and it requires the filing of an annual actuarial opinion.
State Disability Insurance — Voluntary Plans (SB 467)
The State Disability Insurance ("SDI") law described above permits an employer, or a majority of employees who work in California for the same employer, to elect to be covered under a voluntary disability insurance plan in lieu of coverage under the state plan. This amendment requires that voluntary plan trust funds be maintained separately, and it forbids commingling of these funds with the employer's assets. In addition, the amendment authorizes the Employment Development Department to assume the payment of benefits if it terminates an employer's voluntary plan.
Job Training Programs (SB 1591)
This amendment provides that certain public job training programs in the construction industry may not result in the filling of a work assignment that results in not rehiring a seasonal employee who has a history of regular seasonal employment with the employer.
In addition, the Employment Development Department is required to include standards and criteria in its regulations for ensuring that no participant in a job preparation or training program will be employed, and no job opening will be filled, if (1) any other individual is on layoff from the same or a substantially equivalent job; (2) the employer has terminated the employment of a regular employee, or otherwise reduced its workforce, with the intention of filling the vacancy by hiring a participant whose wages are subsidized by the Workforce Investment Act; or (3) an employer in the construction industry has not rehired a seasonal employee who has a history of regular seasonal employment with that employer.
Volunteer Firefighters (AB 2118). The coverage of Cal-OSHA was extended to volunteer firefighters on January 1, 2002. This amendment delays the effective date of that coverage until January 1, 2004, except as to claims that arose between the original date and the effective date of the amendment.
Reorganization of State Agencies (SB 1236)
This amendment implements a reorganization of state labor and employment agencies announced last year by Governor Davis. The reorganization includes the creation of a Labor and Workforce Development Agency, headed by a cabinet-level official, the Secretary of Labor and Workforce Development. The new agency includes the following:
- Office of the Secretary of Labor and Workforce Development.
- Agricultural Labor Relations Board.
- California Workforce Investment Board.
- Department of Industrial Relations (including the California Apprenticeship Council, California Occupational Safety and Health Appeals Board, California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board, Commission on Health and Safety and Workers' Compensation, Industrial Medical Council, Industrial Welfare Commission, State Compensation Insurance Fund, and Workers' Compensation Appeals Board).
- Employment Development Department (including the California Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board and the Employment Training Panel).
Health Care Industry
Clinical Laboratories (SB 1809). In response to a shortage of licensed personnel to work in clinical laboratories, California has created a new license category known as Medical Laboratory Technician. Employees with this license may perform clinical laboratory tests or examinations that are classified as waived or of moderate complexity.
Mental Health Facilities (AB 1454). The State Department of Mental Health regulates psychiatric health facilities and mental health rehabilitation centers. This amendment requires that agency to submit fingerprints to the Department of Justice for a criminal background check upon the employment of any member of a facility's direct care staff, and to "disapprove" the employment of any individual who has been convicted of, or incarcerated for, one of the crimes specified in the law within the preceding 10 years. Similar provisions apply to direct services contractors, licensees, and applicants for a license to operate such a facility.
Cardcheck Agreements — University Of California Contractors (AB 1788)
This new statute is designed to deprive employers that provide goods or services to the University of California of the right to a secret ballot election to determine whether their employees want to be represented by a labor union. Instead, these employers would be forced to enter into a "cardcheck" agreement upon the request of any union.
The new law applies to any "service contractor," which includes any company (other than a collection agency) that provides goods or services to the University under a service contract. A "service contract" is a lease, management agreement, service agreement, loan bond, guarantee, or similar agreement to which the University is a party and in which it has a "proprietary interest." (The "proprietary interest" terminology is used throughout the statute to buttress the argument of labor unions against the anticipated preemption challenge mentioned below.)
As defined in the new law, a "cardcheck" agreement is a written agreement between an employer and a union that provides a procedure to determine whether employees wish to be represented for collective bargaining, and if so, by which union. The law requires that the agreement provide for (1) a cardcheck procedure conducted by a neutral third party in lieu of a formal election conducted by the National Labor Relations Board; (2) binding arbitration of disputes under the agreement or over cardcheck procedures; (3) an agreement by the union to refrain from economic action against the employer in relation to the organizing campaign; and (4) procedures to prohibit the employer or the union from coercing or intimidating employees in their decision whether to select a bargaining representative.
The law requires a service contractor to enter into and comply with a cardcheck agreement with any union that requests the agreement for the purpose of representing employees who perform services covered by the service contract. If a contractor enters into such an agreement with a union, it must offer the same agreement to any other union that seeks to represent its employees. However, the other union can reject the terms agreed to by the first union and negotiate for a different agreement.
The requirement to sign a cardcheck agreement does not apply to a contractor that is signatory to a binding union contract covering the terms and conditions of employment for employees who perform services under the service contract, if it includes a no-strike provision, and if it extends at least through the term of the service contract.
The University is required to include in any service contract a provision requiring the contractor to abide by the cardcheck requirement as essential consideration for the contract. In addition, a request for proposal or similar document regarding a service contract must include a description of these requirements. However, a failure to do so will not provide an exemption for a contractor.
The University or any other interested party (for example, a labor union) may sue for an injunction or specific performance to secure compliance with these requirements. Furthermore, the University has the right to terminate a service contract upon 30 days' written notice if the contractor fails to comply with these requirements. However, the University's contractual obligations will not otherwise be impaired by a contractor's noncompliance.
The new law states that it will "apply to the University of California only to the extent that the Regents of the University of California act by resolution to make it applicable." However, even if the Regents do not do so, it can be anticipated that labor unions will seek to enforce the law as "interested parties," as discussed above. Whether a union could enforce the law in an action against a contractor even if the Regents have not acted to make it applicable to the University is an open question.
In addition, the new law states that it will not be applied if that would cause the loss of federal or state funding of University activities.
It is likely that this law will be challenged on federal preemption grounds, because employers generally have a right under the National Labor Relations Act to a secret ballot election to determine questions of union representation.
Agricultural Labor Relations — Binding "Mediation"
(SB 1156, AB 2596)
In the guise of "mediation," the California Legislature has imposed mandatory arbitration on agricultural employers to establish the terms of a union contract when collective bargaining negotiations do not result in a voluntary agreement. Although this new law gives either party the right to invoke the "mediation" procedure, as a practical matter it was enacted to give a union the ability to do so when it is unable to achieve a negotiated agreement with an agricultural employer. The law applies to agricultural employers in California that have 25 or more employees.
The new law provides that, within designated time limits, the union (or the employer) can file with the Agricultural Labor Relations Board ("ALRB") a declaration that the parties have failed to reach agreement and can request that it issue an order directing the parties to mandatory mediation. The ALRB is required to issue such an order upon request. Following a procedure specified in the law, the parties are required to appoint a mediator, and to share the costs of the mediation. The law also establishes a procedure to be followed in the mediation.
If the mediation does not produce a resolution of the issues to the mutual satisfaction of the parties, the mediator is required to file a report with the ALRB that "resolves all of the issues between the parties and establishes the final terms of a collective bargaining agreement." Moreover, the report must include the basis for the mediator's determination of the disputed issues. In other words, if mediation does not produce a contract, the mediator will become an "interest" arbitrator and impose a contract on the parties.
The statute contains an elaborate procedure under which the employer (or the union) can file with the ALRB either a petition for review of the mediator's report or a petition to set aside the report. However, while this procedure may create the appearance of due process, the grounds for review of the report by the ALRB, or for setting aside the report, are so limited that the contract devised by the mediator will rarely be disturbed. Thus, the mediator will have virtually unlimited discretion to impose a binding union contract on the employer.
After the conclusion of the ALRB's proceedings, the contract imposed by the mediator will take effect as a final order of that agency. At that point, either party or the ALRB can file an action in the state Superior Court to enforce the order. Or, in the alternative, either party can file a petition for a writ of review in the state Court of Appeal or Supreme Court. However, the standards for judicial review of the order are extremely limited.
If a demand for mediation involves a union that was certified before the new law became effective on January 1, 2003, this procedure will apply only if (1) the parties have failed to reach agreement for at least one year after the union's initial request to bargain, (2) the employer has committed an unfair labor practice, and (3) the parties have not previously had a binding contract. The law is scheduled to be repealed on January 1, 2008, unless extended.
This law has been challenged in a lawsuit filed by a growers' association. The suit alleges that the law violates the state and federal constitutions.
Private Investigators (SB 1422)
The California Private Investigator Act imposes licensing requirements on any person who conducts an "investigation," as defined in that law. The amendment creates an exception from these requirements for a joint labor-management committee established under the federal Labor Management Cooperation Act of 1978, or its employees, if they are performing a function authorized by that statute. This includes monitoring public works projects to ensure that employers are complying with federal and state public works laws.
Private Patrol Operators (AB 2780)
California law provides that, with limited exceptions, an employer cannot (1) prevent an employee from disclosing information to a government or law enforcement agency, where the employee has reasonable cause to believe that the information discloses a violation of a state or federal statute, or a violation or noncompliance with a state or federal regulation, or (2) retaliate against an employee for disclosing such information. This amendment provides that it will be a violation of that law for a private patrol operator to discharge, demote, threaten, or discriminate against an employee for disclosing to a government or law enforcement agency information that is related to conduct prohibited by the state's Private Security Services Act. A private patrol operator that intentionally violates this law will be liable in an action for damages brought by the injured party within three years after the violation.
Prevailing Wage Law
Payroll Records (AB 1448). California law requires that contractors and subcontractors involved in public works projects pay their employees the "prevailing wage," as determined by the Director of Industrial Relations, and that they keep accurate payroll records. The prevailing wage law contains certain provisions that were to be repealed on January 1, 2003, including a requirement that payroll records be verified under penalty of perjury, a requirement that certified copies of the records be filed, and an exemption from penalties for a contractor if a subcontractor fails to provide the records. The amendment deletes the repeal of these provisions, thus keeping them in effect indefinitely.
Penalties (AB 1448). Under the prevailing wage law, a contractor or subcontractor that employs a worker in violation of limits on hours worked in a day or week is subject to a financial penalty. This provision was to be repealed on January 1, 2003, and replaced by a provision under which a contractor would be subject to a penalty not only for its own violation of the limits on employee hours, but also for any violation by its subcontractors. The amendment deletes the repeal, and thus keeps the current provision in effect indefinitely.
Privately Owned Residential Property (SB 972). This amendment excludes the construction or rehabilitation of privately owned residential projects that meet certain criteria from the requirements of the prevailing wage law, unless otherwise required by a public funding program. However, local ordinances that require the payment of prevailing wages on housing projects are not preempted by this amendment, or by a related one enacted in 2001.
School Districts/Public Colleges and Universities (AB 1506). As a result of this amendment, a school district or a public college or university that uses funds from the Kindergarten-University Public Education Facilities Bond Act of 2002 or 2004 for a public works project is required to maintain a "labor compliance program" for that project. The object of the program is to ensure that contractors and subcontractors comply with all federal and state labor law requirements applicable to the contract. The prevailing wage law contains detailed requirements for the enforcement of the program, including payroll audits and withholding contract payments when payroll records are inadequate or delinquent, or when wage underpayments occur. In addition, the awarding body must submit a written "finding" that the labor compliance program has been initiated and enforced.
Meyers-Milias Brown Act
San Bernardino Probation Officers (AB 105). The statute permits peace officers to be represented in a bargaining unit composed entirely of peace officers. This amendment, which overrules a court decision and applies only to San Bernardino County, allows probation officers to be included in the same unit as other peace officers.
Public Agency Rules (AB 2908). Under this statute, a complaint alleging a violation of a public agency's rules and regulations concerning union representation and related issues is to be processed as an unfair labor practice charge by the Public Employment Relations Board ("PERB"). The amendment clarifies the law by providing that it will not be an unfair labor practice for a union to violate such a rule or regulation if the rule or regulation itself violates the statute.
Judicial Review (AB 2908). The amendment also establishes procedures for judicial review and enforcement of decisions of the PERB. It provides that a party aggrieved by a final PERB decision in an unfair labor practice case (except a decision not to issue a complaint), or in a case involving an issue of union representation, can file a petition for a writ of extraordinary relief in the Court of Appeal within 30 days. However, a PERB order directing an election will not be stayed pending judicial review. In addition, if a petition for a writ is not filed, PERB can seek enforcement of the decision in the Court of Appeal or the Superior Court. In such cases, the court can not review the merits of the PERB decision.
Higher Education Employer-Employee Relations Act (AB 2883). This statute regulates labor relations for employees of the University of California, the California State University, and the Hastings College of Law. The amendment provides that when a fact-finding panel is appointed because of a dispute in faculty negotiations, the employer must make the panel's findings and recommendations public after 10 days, and act upon them at an open meeting within 90 days.
Disability Payments (AB 2149). Existing law provides for partial compensation for wage losses suffered due to unemployment resulting from sickness or injury from the State Unemployment Compensation Disability Fund ("Fund"). This bill permits the state and trustees of the California State University to elect to become employers whose employees are eligible for disability payments from the Fund.
Cal State Temporary Faculty (AB 2549). The Public Employees Retirement Law excludes from Public Employees' Retirement System ("PERS") membership part-time employees except under specific circumstances — a temporary faculty member of the California State University who works two consecutive semesters or three consecutive quarters at least half-time may be eligible for PERS enrollment at the next consecutive semester or quarter if the appointment requires at least half-time service. The new law allows temporary faculty members who work two consecutive semesters or three consecutive quarters at a minimum teaching load of six weighted units, to be entitled to membership in PERS on or after July 1, 2004, if agreed upon pursuant to a collective bargaining agreement or otherwise authorized by the trustees.
Collective Bargaining (SB 2011). This amendment prohibits inducements or benefits of any kind to persuade trial court employees to oppose an agency shop arrangement, or to withdraw support from a recognized employee organization. In addition, it provides procedures for trial courts to conduct representation elections and resolve disputes regarding representation. It also provides that a layoff of trial court employees must be on the basis of seniority, unless an agreement with a recognized employee organization provides otherwise.
Workers' Compensation (SB 2011). The amendment also exempts the Superior Courts from the requirement to provide workers' compensation insurance for trial court employees. Instead, it establishes the Judicial Branch Workers' Compensation Fund for the purpose of funding compensation claims for judicial branch employees. Thus, county governments will no longer be responsible for the payment of workers' compensation premiums for these employees.
Interpreters (SB 371). This new law establishes the Trial Court Interpreter Employment and Labor Relations Act, which governs union representation and collective bargaining for interpreters in the state's Superior Courts. Among many other detailed requirements, the new law requires, with certain exceptions, that trial court interpreters, who previously had been retained as independent contractors in most cases, must now be hired as employees of the courts. The apparent purpose of the law is to encourage union organizing campaigns for interpreters, with provisions for recognition by cardcheck.
School Districts and Community Colleges
Personal Services Contracting (SB 1419). This union-sponsored law establishes strict limitations on the ability of a school or community college district to use personal service contracts to provide services that would otherwise be performed by classified employees. Among many other requirements, the law prohibits the use of such contracts under most circumstances if the contractor's wages would undercut district pay rates, or if the contract would cause the displacement of district employees.
State Teachers' Retirement Plan (SB 1318). State law requires teachers who are members of the Defined Benefit Program of the State Teachers' Retirement Plan to contribute 8 percent of their creditable compensation to the retirement fund. This amendment would authorize the teacher's employer to pay all or a portion of those contributions under certain conditions.
Whistleblower Protection (AB 2034). State law protects a whistleblower employed by a community college from retaliation by the college. This amendment provides that a hearing on a claim of retaliation will be conducted under statutes that govern community colleges and the rules of the State Personnel Board, and that the costs of the hearing will be charged to the community college district that employs the complaining employee.
Part-Time Instructors (AB 2146). State law provides that a faculty member working for a community college district cannot acquire regular classification status as a result of employment during summer school. The amendment changes the collective bargaining process for part-time faculty so that a community college can negotiate whether faculty members can teach during winter intersession terms without qualifying as permanent part-time employees.
Equal Employment Opportunity (SB 2028). State law previously required each community college district to maintain an affirmative action employment program. That law, which was found to be unconstitutional, has been replaced by a new law that requires community colleges to implement programs for ensuring equal employment opportunity in their employment practices. The legislation also establishes an Equal Opportunity Fund to support these activities.
State Teachers' Retirement System Vendors (AB 2506). This new law would require the Teachers’ Retirement Board to establish a registration process for vendors seeking to offer retirement investment products to employees of local school districts, community college districts, and county offices of education. The initial process must be completed by July 1, 2004. The board must provide access to an information bank to compare registered vendors and the investment options being offered.
Part-Time Playground Employees (AB 2849). Existing law requires school districts that have adopted a merit (civil service) system to classify all non-certificated positions; however, part-time playground positions were exempt from the classified service. The new law states that part-time playground positions shall be considered a part of the classified service when the employee also works part-time in the same school district in a classified position. Proponents had argued that due to exclusion of part-time playground positions from the classified service, some employees who work in other positions in the classified service (e.g., food service workers) do not receive rights or protections while they are working in playground jobs.
Short-Term Employment (AB 500). Existing law excludes from the classified service short-term employees who are employed for less than 75 percent of a school year. The new law requires that school districts and community college districts desiring to hire a short-term employee first specify the service required to be performed by the employee and certify the estimated ending date of service. The bill is intended to clarify the use of short-term employees and prevent schools from hiring short-term employees in long-term jobs without pay and benefits equivalent to long-term employment.
Disclosure of Violent Crimes (AB 2198). Existing law requires each school district and county office of education to develop comprehensive school safety plans. The new law authorizes a principal or principal designee to notify parents and school employees in writing of the general nature of a violent crime that occurs at the school. If a local law enforcement agency determines that disclosure would hinder an ongoing investigation, the notification will occur within a reasonable time of the crime, as determined by the law enforcement agency and the school district.
In-Home Supportive Services — Collective Bargaining (AB 2235). County governments are responsible for the In-Home Supportive Services ("IHSS") program, under which aged, blind, and disabled persons receive services enabling them to remain in their own homes. Under this program, the recipients of services retain the right to hire, fire, and supervise the work of the IHSS personnel. However, in order to allow collective bargaining for these self-employed individuals, the law was amended in 1999 to require all counties to establish an "employer of record" for IHSS employees. In response to a union complaint that some counties were not complying with this requirement, the Legislature passed this amendment, which requires each county to provide the state with documentation to demonstrate compliance. In addition, the amendment requires the State Controller to deduct union dues from the wages of IHSS workers and transfer the deducted funds to the applicable unions.
Domestic Partners (AB 2777). Death benefits, optional retirement allowances, or survivor's allowances accorded to a spouse under the County Employees Retirement Law may now be accorded to a domestic partner in Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, and Marin Counties, if approved by the county board of supervisors and if certain other requirements are satisfied.
Los Angeles County Physicians (AB 2006). This special-interest legislation, sponsored by the Union of American Physicians and Dentists, prohibits Los Angeles County from discriminating against employees by removing them from a health benefit plan because they have selected or supported a union. The legislation will apply retroactively. The UAPD had complained to the Legislature that Los Angeles County retaliated against the physicians employed by the county for selecting that union by removing them from a popular benefit plan and replacing it with an inferior plan.
County Employees Retirement — Death Benefits (AB 2060). The County Employees Retirement Law of 1937 states that no amendment to that law shall affect the right to or amount of any retirement allowance payable to a member, or spouse or beneficiary of a member, who retired or died prior to the effective date of the amendment. This bill provides that notwithstanding this provision, certain alternative death benefits may be made operative as of the date specified by the County Board of Supervisors.
Probationary Period (AB 1950). State law requires a probationary period of at least six months for new employees of a state agency. The amendment extends the probationary period under certain circumstances for employees who allege that they have a disability.
Personal Services Contracts (AB 1357). Under existing law, a personal services contract entered into by a state agency for janitorial and housekeeping employees, custodians, food service workers, laundry workers, window cleaners, and security guards must include health, dental, and vision benefits worth at least 85 percent of the cost of the same benefits for state employees who perform similar duties. The amendment expands this requirement to include retirement benefits, holiday pay, sick pay, and vacation pay. In addition, it requires that the contract also include wages that are valued at no less than 85 percent of the cost of wages provided to state employees performing similar duties. These changes apply to contracts entered into, renewed, or extended on or after July 1, 2003.
Timely Payment of Wages (AB 1684). The Labor Code generally requires that if an employee is discharged, earned wages must be paid immediately; and if an employee not having a written contract quits, wages must be paid within 72 hours, or at the time of quitting if the employee has given the employer 72 hours' notice of the resignation. This amendment provides that a state employer will be deemed to have made an immediate payment of various types of accrued leave if the employee authorizes it in writing to contribute the leave on a pre-tax basis to a state-sponsored supplemental retirement plan, provided that the contribution is tendered no later than 45 days after the employee's separation from employment. Furthermore, under certain specified circumstances, the employee can authorize the employer to defer all or part of the payment into the next calendar year.
The Labor Code also provides that various provisions requiring the timely payment of wages can not be set aside by a private agreement, whether written, oral, or implied. The amendment provides that a state employer does not violate this provision by authorizing employees who quit or are discharged to take payment for various types of accrued leave in the manner provided above.
Active Military Duty (SB 1801). This new law provides a subsidy for state employees who, as members of the California National Guard or a United States military reserve organization, are ordered to active duty as a result of the War on Terrorism. Under most circumstances, these employees will, for the duration of the event, but not to exceed 365 calendar days, receive the difference between the amount of their military pay and allowances and the amount they would have received as state employees, including any merit raises that would otherwise have been granted during the time the individual was on active duty.
Highway Workers (SB 1984). This amendment provides special disability benefits for state highway workers who become disabled because of a work-related injury and a special death benefit for their survivors if they are killed as a result of an injury incurred at work, provided that a memorandum of understanding has been agreed to by the state employer and the recognized employee organization to that effect.
State Special Schools and Diagnostic Centers (AB 2444). This new law requires the Department of Personnel Administration to consider making salaries for teachers, specialists, and administrators of the state's special schools and diagnostic centers competitive with the salaries of similarly qualified school teachers, specialists, and administrators who are employed by the encompassing school districts.
Peace Officers and Firefighters
Disability Retirement (AB 1847). This amendment provides that, if a peace officer or firefighter becomes ill or dies due to exposure to a biological or chemical agent that may be used as a weapon of mass destruction, there will be a rebuttable presumption that the injury arose out of and in the course of employment. Therefore, unless the presumption is rebutted, the employee will receive a service-connected disability retirement if he or she becomes permanently incapacitated as a result of the exposure.
Public Safety Officers Procedural Bill of Rights (SB 1516). This law establishes procedures that must be followed whenever a public safety officer is subject to an investigation and interrogation for alleged misconduct that may result in punitive action. This amendment provides for damages and civil penalties if a public safety department, or its employees or agents, willfully and maliciously violate that law with the intent to injure the officer. The amendment also provides for sanctions if cases are filed frivolously or in bad faith.
Health Care for Survivors (AB 2059). Existing law provides that, upon the death of a firefighter or peace officer from injury or disease relating to his official duties, the uninsured surviving spouse and uninsured family members may enroll in a health benefits plan, part of which shall be paid by the state. This bill states if family members of a deceased firefighter or peace officer are validly enrolled in a health benefits plan on the date of the employee’s death, the contracting agency will be required to continue the employer’s contribution for the continued enrollment of those family members for a specified period.
Retirement Benefits (SB 183). This bill enhances retirement benefits for certain state peace officers and other public safety officers such as investigators, Department of Justice agents, criminal technicians, firefighters, CHP dispatchers, fish and game wardens, park rangers, and support personnel. Included now as state safety members, entitled to higher benefits under PERS than state miscellaneous members, are employees in State Bargaining Unit 7, as well as managerial and confidential employees related to Unit 7 employees; the bill also increased the normal rate of contribution for certain state peace officers and firefighters, modified the pension benefits for certain state peace officers and firefighters, and amended the definition of peace officer set forth in the Penal Code.
Firefighters (AB 1748). This amendment provides for a special one-time lump-sum death benefit for the eligible survivors of pilots who die while flying firefighting aircraft. The death benefit is in addition to workers' compensation benefits.
Miscellaneous Public Employment
PERS: Participation Cost Quote (AB 2909). Existing law authorizes the governing body of a public agency to ask PERS for a quotation of the approximate contribution that would be required if the agency elects to participate in the system. The bill authorizes a recognized employee organization to ask for the quotation. It also authorizes the governing body of the public agency to ask for the approximate contribution to be required of the agency if a specific change were made to the agency’s contract with the system (an employee organization is already so authorized), and eliminate the requirement that an employee organization seeking such information pay for such quotation.
Public Employees’ Retirement: State and Local Prosecutors and Public Defenders (AB 2023). Existing law provides that state and local prosecutors, public defenders, and local public defender investigators are classified as miscellaneous members of PERS or general members of retirement systems established pursuant to the County Employees Retirement Law of 1937. Such members are entitled to generally lower benefits and subject to lower contribution rates than state or local safety members.
The bill authorizes state prosecutors and public defenders to be included within the state safety member classification under PERS, if agreed to in a memorandum of understanding. The bill also authorizes contracting agencies and counties and districts to include within the local public safety classification, prosecutors, public defenders, and public investigators so employed on or after January 1, 2002. The bill also authorizes such members to elect not to become safety members. Such state and local prosecutors and public defenders, and local public defender investigators, shall be eligible for the same retirement benefits applicable to safety members, except industrial disability or special death benefits as safety members.
Public Employees – Health Care (SB 1464). Existing law provides for public employees’ health benefits. The statute specifies that the public employer’s contribution for each employee shall be the amount necessary to pay the employee’s enrollment, including any family members enrolled in the plan, or if less, $16 per month. The amendment increases the payment to $97 per month for the next five years, commencing January 4, 2004, to be adjusted annually thereafter by the CalPERS board to reflect any change in the medical care component of the Consumer Price Index.
PERS – Long-Term Care Insurance (AB 1908). Existing law requires that the full cost of enrollment in a long-term care insurance plan for active and retired public employees, spouses, parents, siblings, and spouses’ parents be paid by the enrollees. The bill deleted that requirement. Long-term care is defined to include home, community, and institutional care. The PERS board and each employer are authorized to recover the administrative costs of the long-term care insurance program from insurance carriers and premiums.
Retirement for AmeriCorps (SB 2094). Existing law provides that service retirement allowances are calculated based, in part, on years of credited service. Members may elect to receive service credit for public service as a Peace Corp or AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer. This bill states that members of PERS may elect to receive service credit for public service as a volunteer in any other AmeriCorps program.
Public Agencies – Payroll Deductions (AB 1243). This amendment authorizes public agencies to establish payroll deduction programs for (1) payment for the support, maintenance, or care of an employee’s child, family, or former spouse, (2) payment of a legal judgment, (3) garnishment or deduction of wages under a court order, or (4) payment of a loan or obligation to a commercial lending institution.
Civil Service Hearings – Transcripts (AB 1889). This bill requires that where an audio or stenographic recording is permitted at a hearing before a civil service commission or a personnel officer, a copy of the recording shall be provided, upon request, to the employee bringing an appeal, at a fee covering direct duplication costs. The city must notify the employee of the right to a transcript.
The content of this article does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied on in that way. Specific advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.