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 September 1 suspense file votes in Assembly Appropriations.
As of Labor Day, the following bills continued to run the legislative gauntlet:
• AB 1213 (Ortega) (extends the potential duration of temporary disability up to 90 days if an injured worker prevails in IMR; would be effective after 1/1/24 and sunsets 1/1/27)
• AB 700 (Grayson) (establishes a California Firefighter Cancer Prevention and Research Program to be administered by University of California)
• AB 336 (Cervantes) (requires contractors to certify workers’ comp insurance policy class codes when renewing their contractor licenses)
• AB 621 (Irwin) (expanded special death benefit, allowing PERS special death benefit and workers comp death benefit)
• SB 391 (Blakespear) (skin cancer presumption for state Fish and Game and Parks and Recreation workers)
• AB 1145 (Maienschein) (provides an industrial presumption for PTSD for certain employees of state hospitals and Department of Corrections
• SB 623 (Laird) (expanded rebuttable PTSD presumption for additional categories of public safety personnel). Listed as in 3rd reading as of 8/31
Assuming information on the legislative website has been accurately updated, bills that do not appear to be moving as of 9/5/23 are:
• SB 636 (Cortese) (would require California licensing of UR psychologists). As of 8/28/23 this bill is listed as on inactive file at request of Assembly Member Bryan
• SB 631 (Cortese) (upon an appropriation for a study, would mandate the UC Berkeley Labor Center conduct a study of differences in workers’ compensation provided to employees of different genders) (as of 9/5/23 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 September 1 include the following:
• AB 594 (Maienschein) (expands and strengthens the right of public prosecutors to enforce California labor laws such laws dealing with labor standards, wage theft, worker misclassification etc, but not workers’ comp laws)
• AB 1356 (Haney) (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 (Smallwood-Cuevas) (creates a Displaced Worker Retention and Transfer Rights Act and prohibits chain employers from closing without giving a 60 day notice; also, requires a chain employer to provide transfer opportunity to other chain locations within 25 miles as positions become available)
• SB 553 (Cortese) (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 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 (Ashby) (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 right to seek an accommodation)
• SB 723 (Durazo) (modifies recall and reinstatement rights for laid-off employees in the hospitality, service and travel industries and deletes a prior sunset date)
• SB 616 (Gonzalez) (increases the number of paid sick days available to specified employees under the healthy Workplaces Healthy Families Act of 2014)
Stay tuned as the legislative session continues.
In my next post I’ll cover recent WCAB en banc rulings in the Nunes case that deal with the concept of vocational apportionment.