BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



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           Date of Hearing:  May 6, 2015


                           ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON INSURANCE


                                   Tom Daly, Chair


          AB 915  
          (Holden) - As Amended March 19, 2015


          SUBJECT:  Public education employees:  industrial accident or  
          illness leaves of absence:  travel restriction


          SUMMARY:  Repeals the restriction on out-of-state travel for  
          school and community college employees who are receiving  
          statutory industrial injury leave benefits.  Specifically, this  
          bill:  


          1)Repeals a law applicable to both classified and certificated  
            K-12 school employees that prohibits, absent authorization  
            from the school board, out-of-state travel during any period  
            where the employee is receiving industrial injury leave  
            benefits.


          2)Repeals a law applicable to both academic and non-academic  
            community college employees that prohibits, absent  
            authorization from the governing board of the community  
            college district, out-of-state travel during any period where  
            the employee is receiving industrial injury leave benefits.


          EXISTING LAW:  









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          1)Establishes a comprehensive system to provide workers'  
            compensation benefits, including temporary disability benefits  
            when employees are temporarily unable to work, for any  
            employee who suffers an injury or condition that arises out of  
            or in the course of employment.


          2)Provides for most employees a temporary disability (TD)  
            benefit of 2/3 of the employee's average weekly pay, subject  
            to a current maximum weekly benefit of $1066.  Because  
            disability benefits are tax-free, the 2/3 formula is designed  
            to approximate an employee's take home pay, subject to the  
            weekly cap.


          3)Provides for most fire and police employees an industrial  
            injury leave of absence of up to one year at full pay, and  
            without a cap.


          4)Requires school districts and community colleges to adopt  
            rules granting their employees industrial injury leave  
            benefits of at least 60 days at full pay, without a cap.


          5)Provides that a school employee receiving this industrial  
            leave benefit cannot leave the State without the authorization  
            of the employing school or community college district board.


          FISCAL EFFECT:  Undetermined


          COMMENTS:  


          1)Purpose.  According to the author, the bill is intended to  
            align the rules governing full pay leaves for industrial  








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            injuries between the Education Code and the Labor Code.  Each  
            Code has a special workers' compensation-like statutory  
            benefit for certain employees, but only the Education Code  
            limits out-of-state travel for those employees while they are  
            receiving the benefit.  The author further notes that there is  
            no limitation on travel for any employee who is receiving  
            regular TD benefits.  The author argues that artificial  
            limitations on travel for injured employees who may need to  
            travel out of state for any number of valid reasons makes  
            little sense.


          2)Rationale for travel restriction.  The precursor Code section  
            to the Election Code Sections that contain the travel  
            limitation date to at least the late 1950's.  The annotations  
            do not suggest the policy rationale for placing a travel  
            restriction on an employee who is legitimately disabled, nor  
            has a rationale been suggested by any stakeholder.   
            Speculation might suggest that in an era over half a century  
            ago, if an employee travelled far away, it would be difficult  
            to recall that employee to determine whether the disabling  
            condition might have resolved.  (Although, it should be noted  
            that even with a strict application of the current rule, a San  
            Diego teacher could travel to Crescent City without  
            authorization, and still be less accessible than if that  
            employee had travelled to Las Vegas.)  However, with modern  
            communication and travel options, it is difficult to imagine  
            how a school district could in any way be prejudiced by an  
            employee who is on lawful leave temporarily leaving the state.


          3)"4850 time" and regular TD.  A far more common special full  
            salary benefit provides most public safety officers with a  
            full year of full salary disability leave for on-the-job  
            injuries pursuant to Labor Code Section 4850.  While that Code  
            Section is not without controversy, it does not have a travel  
            limitation, nor have any governmental employers who must  
            comply with Section 4850 ever raised out-of-state travel as an  
            issue of concern.  








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          In addition, as the author has noted, there is no travel  
            restriction on the vast majority of employees who can access  
            up to 104 weeks of regular TD benefits if their on-the-job  
            injury causes them to be temporarily disabled.
          4)General workers' compensation rules.  In general, injured  
            workers must comply with reasonable requests for medical  
            treatment or evaluations in order to receive benefits.  This  
            includes attending, upon reasonable scheduling, appointments  
            to determine if disabling conditions are still preventing the  
            employee from performing either the duties of his or her  
            regular job, or modified duties offered by the employer.   
            These are the rules that all employers, other than the schools  
            at issue in this bill, use for employees on temporary  
            disability leave.  If an employee fails to comply either with  
            reasonable requests by the employer, or orders of a workers  
            compensation judge, the employer is not required to continue  
            paying benefits.  


          5)Board authorization?  According to the Association of  
            California School Administrators ACSA), the key problem with  
            the existing statute is that it requires an authorization of a  
            Board - which meets infrequently - to allow out-of-state  
            travel.  It acknowledges there have been cases where employees  
            on disability leave have, for example, missed out-of-state  
            funerals of family members due to a lack of proper  
            authorization from a board that was not meeting in time.  The  
            solution proposed is to amend the statute to ensure that the  
            Superintendent, or a designee who is always available, can act  
            on authorization requests.  ACSA also argues that the travel  
            restriction ensures that an employee on leave will be  
            available to attend medical evaluations, or other appointments  
            critical to the employee's leave status.  ACSA believes its  
            proposed amendment balances this school district interest with  
            an employee's interest in travelling out-of-state during a  
            disability leave.








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          REGISTERED SUPPORT / OPPOSITION:




          Support


          California School Employees Association


          California Teachers Association


          SEIU California




          Opposition


          Association of California School Administrators


          Orange County Department of Education




          Analysis Prepared by:Mark Rakich / INS. / (916) 319-2086











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