The Department of Industrial Relations released its 2014 Legislative Digest, which provides an overview of new laws and vetoed bills related to the work of DIR and its divisions, which include the Labor Commissioner’s Office, Cal/OSHA, the Division of Workers’ Compensation and the Division of Apprenticeship Standards. These bills were all reviewed during the second half of the 2013/2014 legislative session. Among the chaptered bills signed by the Governor in the digest are:
AB 1035 extends the time period to file a dependency case with the WCAB from 240 weeks to no later than 420 weeks from the date of injury for certain safety workers if the death was due to cancer, tuberculosis, a blood-borne infectious disease or methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus skin infection; Governor Brown vetoed a similar bill last year.
AB 1746 requires that cases in which an unrepresented employee who is or was employed by an illegally uninsured employer be placed on the priority conference calendar at the WCAB. It must be held within 30 days after a DOR is filed in the case..
AB 2230 allows CIGA to levy an assessment of up to two percent of direct written premiums for the payment of covered claims and expenses.
AB 2732 makes technical, non-substantive, and clarifying changes to several Labor Code provisions amended or enacted by SB 863.
It is of interest that the Governor vetoed the following bills that pertain to Workers’ Compensation.
AB 2052 would have established or expanded presumptions of injury for safety officers In the veto message Brown said “This measure seeks to expand coverage to dozens of additional categories of officers without real evidence that these officers confront the hazards that gave rise to the presumptions codified in existing law. Presumptions should be used rarely and only when justified by clear and convincing scientific evidence.”
AB 2378 would have overturned the June 2013 decision by the California Court of Appeals in County of Alameda v. WCAB (Knittel) (2013) 213 Cal.App.4th 278, 78 Cal. Comp. Cases 81, which ruled that the period of salary continuation must be counted as part of the 104-week limit on TD benefits.
AB 2616 would have established a statutory presumption that a MRSA infection that develops in a hospital employee who provides direct patient care in an acute care hospital is work related. Brown’s veto message said “The determination that an illness is work-related should be decided by the rules of that system and on the specific facts of each employee’s situation. While I am aware that statutory presumptions have steadily expanded for certain public employees, I am not inclined to further this trend or to introduce it into the private sector.”
Other bills of interest that were signed into law include
AB 326 modernizes reporting requirements for employers reporting serious injury, illness or death. This law provides that employers may also report such incidents via email and removes the option to report via telegraph.
AB 1522 creates the Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014, which provides that as of July 1, 2015, employees shall accrue compensated sick leave to care for themselves or for family members as defined in the bill. Under this bill, employers shall provide up to 24 hours (i.e., three days) of paid sick leave each year.
The Governor vetoed the following bill that pertains to Employment Law.
AB 2271 would have restricted employers, employment agencies, and persons who operate an Internet website from posting job advertisements that indicate an individual’s current employment is a requirement for a job. The veto message said “While I support the intent of this bill, it could impede the state’s efforts to connect unemployed workers to prospective employers as currently drafted. The problems facing our state’s long term unemployed are great. There is no doubt that those Californians want to get back to work and I want to help them get there – unfortunately this bill does not provide the proper path to address this problem.”
The 26 page DIR 2014 Legislative Report, or the website of the Legislative Counsel of California should be consulted for further more detailed information about these and other laws that take effect in January.