The California Legislature is back after its August hiatus. We’re heading into the legislative home stretch. A few bills of interest to the workers’ compensation community have survived Sept. 1 suspense file votes in the Assembly Appropriations Committee.
As of Labor Day, the following bills continued to run the legislative gantlet:
- AB 1213, which extends the potential duration of temporary disability up to 90 days if an injured worker prevails in IMR; would be effective after Jan. 1, 2024 and sunsets Jan. 1, 2027.
- AB 700, which establishes a California Firefighter Cancer Prevention and Research Program to be administered by the University of California.
- AB 336, which requires contractors to certify workers’ comp insurance policy class codes when renewing their contractor licenses.
- AB 621, which expands special death benefit, allowing PERS special death benefit and workers' comp death benefit.
- SB 391, which extends a skin cancer presumption for state Fish and Wildlife and Parks and Recreation workers.
- AB 1145, which provides an industrial presumption for post-traumatic stress disorder for certain employees of state hospitals and the Department of Corrections.
- SB 623, which expands rebuttable PTSD presumption for additional categories of public safety personnel; listed as in the third reading as of Aug. 31.
Assuming information on the Legislature website has been accurately updated, bills that do not appear to be moving as of Tuesday are:
- SB 636, which would require California licensing of utilization review psychologists). As of Aug. 28, this bill was listed on inactive file at the request of an Assemblymember.
- SB 631, which, upon an appropriation for a study, would mandate that the UC Berkeley Labor Center conduct a study of differences in workers’ compensation provided to employees of different genders. As of Tuesday, this bill is noted as held in committee and under submission.
Other bills of collateral interest to the workers’ comp community that advanced out of Assembly Appropriations on Friday include the following:
- AB 594, which expands and strengthens the right of public prosecutors to enforce California labor laws dealing with labor standards, wage theft, worker misclassification, etc., but not workers’ comp laws.
- AB 1356, which revises the WARN Act to include a “client employer” or a labor contractor in the definition of an employer and, among other provisions, increases from 60 days to 90 days the length of notice an employer must provide to employees prior to terminations, relocations or mass layoffs.
- SB 627, which creates a Displaced Worker Retention and Transfer Rights Act and prohibits chain employers from closing without giving a 60-day notice and requires a chain employer to provide transfer opportunities to other chain locations within 25 miles as positions become available.
- SB 553, which requires employer workplace violence prevention plans, prohibits retaliation if an employee seeks assistance from law enforcement or emergency services after a violent incident and allows a collective bargaining representative to file for a temporary restraining order on behalf of an employee who has suffered unlawful violence or a credible threat of violence. Sponsored by the UFCW, this bill reflects rising concern about workplace violence against workers, including retail employees.
- SB 731, which requires an employer, before requiring an employee who is working from home to return to work in person, to provide at least 30 calendar days' written notice to the employee along with a statement about the right to seek an accommodation.
- SB 723, which modifies recall and reinstatement rights for laid-off employees in the hospitality, service and travel industries and deletes a prior sunset date.
- SB 616, which increases the number of paid sick days available to specified employees under the Healthy Workplaces Healthy Families Act of 2014.
Julius Young is an applicants' attorney and a partner for the Boxer & Gerson law firm in Oakland. This column was reprinted with his permission from his Workers Comp Zone blog on the firm's website.