Workers Comp Zone


Just when the comp community thought furloughs were over, they’re back again.

The California Supreme Court has agreed to hear the legality of last year’s furloughs. But that case will not be decided for some time.

With efforts to reduce state worker pay to minimum wage levels tied up in Sacramento County Superior Court and with the state budget negotiations at an impasse, Schwarzenegger has reverted to state worker furloughs.

This time SCIF employees will be exempted. Also to be exempted are employees of some agencies that bring in money, like the Franchise tax Board. And some workers who recently agreed to contract concessions
in bargaining are excluded from furloughs.

Noticeably absent from those exempted are employees of the Department of Industrial Relations, including employees of the California Division of Workers’ Compensation. Yet again the Governor has refused to acknowledge that employer assessments supposedly create a user funded system.

In January 2010 the Legislative Analyst Office (LAO) questioned salary reductions of state personnel funded through targeted and user funded mechanisms. The LAO noted that “the administration has not put forth a credible rationale” why reductions should be extended to personnel expenses funded by special funds, federal funds or other non-governmental funds”.

A bill was introduced to address this issue. SBX8 29, carried by California Senate Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, proposed to exempt employees funded at least 95% by sources other than the General Fund. The bill was vetoed by the Governor: … =steinberg

So unless there’s a quick budget agreement, it’s likely we’ll be back to furloughs soon. Despite court battles over their legality, no court order was able to stop the furloughs during the 2009 budget cycle.

Most DWC personnel prefer the furloughs to pay cuts. At least they can use the time off.

I was told by several DWC employees that they made up in overtime pay what they would have been paid but for the furloughs. So some employees may do OK.

Some attorneys have told me that they have coped with the furlough days be scheduling depositions, informal settlement conferences and mediations on furlough blackout days.

But the undeniable effect of the furloughs is that the doors of the hosue of justice are blacked out three days per month. Trial time is reduced, and the wait for getting a case on calendar will be longer.

All of this in a user funded system….

Here’s a link to a post I did, “Assessing Assessments”, which quotes extensively from a piece done by David DePaulo, publisher of Workcompentral…..In trenchant comments, DePaulo rails against the disconnect between large increases in assessments and furloughs…
Check it out: … 129-222117

Stay tuned.

Julius Young

Category: Political developments