BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                       AB 915


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          ASSEMBLY THIRD READING


          AB  
          915 (Holden)


          As Amended  March 19, 2015


          Majority vote


           ------------------------------------------------------------------- 
          |Committee       |Votes |Ayes                 |Noes                 |
          |                |      |                     |                     |
          |                |      |                     |                     |
          |----------------+------+---------------------+---------------------|
          |Insurance       |13-0  |Daly, Beth Gaines,   |                     |
          |                |      |Travis Allen,        |                     |
          |                |      |Calderon, Cooley,    |                     |
          |                |      |Cooper, Dababneh,    |                     |
          |                |      |Frazier, Gatto,      |                     |
          |                |      |Gonzalez, Grove,     |                     |
          |                |      |Mayes, Rodriguez     |                     |
          |                |      |                     |                     |
          |                |      |                     |                     |
           ------------------------------------------------------------------- 


          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.








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          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:  


          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 two-thirds of the employee's average weekly pay, subject to a  
            current maximum weekly benefit of $1,066.  Because disability  
            benefits are tax-free, the two-thirds 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  








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            employing school or community college district board.


          FISCAL EFFECT:  Unknown.  This bill is keyed non-fiscal by the  
          Legislative Counsel.


          COMMENTS:  


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








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            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 Labor  
            Code Section 4850 ever raised out-of-state travel as an issue of  
            concern.  


            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  








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            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.




          Analysis Prepared by:                                               
          Mark Rakich / INS. / (916) 319-2086  FN: 0000360