Workers Comp Zone


The most significant 2024 workers’ comp bills are currently in the California Senate and Assembly Appropriations Committees.

That includes SB 1205 (Laird) (temporary disability and expenses while missing work to attend medical treatment), SB 1346 (Durazo) (TD from date of UR denial to date of IMR reversal to be excluded from 104 week TD cap), AB 3106 (Schiavo) requires school employers to exclude COVID cases from the workplace and pay regular earnings), and SB 1299 (Cortese) (presumption for heat illness injuries and deaths)

Given the huge budget deficit facing California and the potential that some of these measures would allegedly cost the state money, some of these bills will probably die. These are bills dear to the heart of the applicant’s bar and opposed by the employer/insurer coalition.

In the meanwhile, another interesting bill is pending. That is AB 2751 (Haney), the so called right to disconnect bill. Although it’s not a workers’ comp bill, it would have interesting collateral consequences for workers.

This bill (see links below to the bill text and April 17, 2024 Assembly analysis) requires both public and private employers to establish a workplace policy that allows their workers to disconnect from communication with the employer during non-working hours. This right would subject to exceptions for certain specifications (such as for defined emergencies or scheduling).

Employees covered by collective bargaining would be excluded. Non-working hours would be defined as hours before or after the worker’s assigned hours of work. Non-working hours would be established by written agreement between the employer and employee.

The rationale for the bill is that with many employees working remotely, some find that they are being called upon at all hours, unreasonably intruding on family and personal time. Other countries have enacted this type of legislation.

Employers have lined up against the bill, and the CalChamber has listed it in their 2024 Job Killers list.

To my knowledge there has been no study of how work from home trends have impacted the frequency and severity of California workers’ comp claims. But with many employees now working out of their homes or in other remote locations, incidents at home may often plausibly meet the AOE/COE test, i.e. arise out of employment and be in the scope of employment.

However, if AB 2751 is enacted and an employer has a written agreement with the employee to establish non-working hours, perhaps claims of at home work injury might be diminished. Although there’s no evidence on that one way or the other, it seems likely.

So perhaps workers’ comp stakeholders do have a dog in the hunt on this one.

I expect amendments to the bill, but here is the current text of AB 2751:

Here is the April 15 analysis of the current version of the bill:

Stay tuned.

Julius Young