Workers Comp Zone


The 2018 California legislative session is over.

My last post, “Home Stretch”, detailed the California workers’ comp bills that were under consideration as the session neared its close:

All of those bills have passed and are now with Governor Brown.

To recap, that includes the following:

• AB 479 (Gonzalez Fletcher) (addresses rating criteria in breast cancer cases & forbids apportionment to childbearing age)

• AB 1749 (Daly) (coverage for peace officers injured responding to events out of state)

• SB 1086 (Atkins) (prevents sunset of public safety officer death claim time limits)

• SB 899 (Pan) (precludes race, gender or national origin based apportionment)

• AB 2046 (Daly) (requires inter-agency sharing of fraud information)

• SB 880 (Pan) (allows pilot program use of debit cards to pay indemnity benefits)

• AB 2334 (Thurmond) (allows release of certain self-insured data)

• AB 553 (Daly) (requires the DIR to pay out $120 million each year from the Return to Work Supplemental Benefit program established as part of the 2012 comp reforms)

• AB 2496 (Gonzales Fletcher) (applies a “Dynamex” type definition of employment for janitorial workers)

Several of these bills were extensively amended to where they are smaller in scope than the initial version (SB 899 and AB 2046, for example). AB 479 takes a different approach to a subject that resulted in several Brown vetoes.

If I were betting, I’d say the most likely to get nixed are AB 553 and AB 2496.

Applicant attorneys and many labor union advocates feel strongly that there was a deal to pay $120 million each year to workers with disproportionately high earnings losses. AB 553 would change how the RTW fund payments are administered and calculated, but require the full $120 million be paid each year. The fund is paid out of employer assessments. Some employer groups have a different perspective on the 2012 deal, and there is certainly opposition to AB 553 among groups that have been allied with Brown’s administration, so Brown will have to choose whether to sign AB 553.

AB 2496 comes to Governor Brown at a time when many businesses are demanding that the legislature intervene to modify or overturn the California Supreme Court decision in Dynamex. They failed to get any traction at the end of this session.

I explored this in a recent post, “AB 2496 and Dynamex”:

I’ve yet to see Brown issue any public statements on how he views the definition of employment in an economy that increasingly offers gig-based jobs, so his likely stance on AB 2496 isn’t publicly known.

But Brown can often be difficult to predict, so it is possible that there could be surprises as he looks at his last sheaf of legislation.

Stay tuned.

Julius Young