BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    

                             Senator Ricardo Lara, Chair
                            2015 - 2016  Regular  Session

          AB 2493 (Atkins) - Firefighters:  disability
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          |Version: May 31, 2016           |Policy Vote: L. & I.R. 5 - 0    |
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          |Urgency: No                     |Mandate: No                     |
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          |Hearing Date: August 1, 2016    |Consultant: Robert Ingenito     |
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          This bill meets the criteria for referral to the Suspense File.


          Summary: AB 2493 would extend "4850 leave" to firefighters  
          employed by the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection  

          Impact: CalFIRE indicates that would incur increased annual cost  
          of $4.7 million (special fund) to implement the provisions of  
          the bill, related to higher disability payments, overtime, and  
          increased staffing needs.

          Background:  Current law establishes a workers' compensation system that  
          provides benefits to an employee who suffers from an injury or  
          illness that arises out of and in the course of employment,  
          irrespective of fault. Generally speaking, under current law an  
          injured worker who is unable to work is entitled to two years of  


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          temporary disability benefits. These benefits are designed to  
          partially offset the loss of wages for workers unable to work in  
          the aftermath of an injury. The benefit amount is 67 percent of  
          a worker's average weekly wage during the past 12 months. 
          Labor Code Section 4850 provides specified categories of peace  
          officers with a higher wage loss benefit. An eligible public  
          safety officer who becomes disabled while performing his or her  
          duties is entitled to a one-year leave of absence without loss  
          of salary in lieu of temporary disability payments. These  
          employees include:

           City police officers.

           City, county, or district firefighters.


                 Inspectors, investigators, detectives, or personnel with  
               comparable titles in any district attorney's office.

                 County probation officers, group counselors, or juvenile  
               services officers.

                 Lifeguards employed by a county of the first class or  
               the City of San Diego.

                 Airport law enforcement officers.

                 Harbor or port police officers, wardens, or special  
               officers of a harbor or port district or city or county  
               harbor department.

                 Police officers of the Los Angeles Unified School  


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                 State firefighters employed by the Department of  

          Proposed Law:  
          The bill would extend "4850 leave" to rank-and-file and  
          supervisorial firefighters employed by CalFIRE, whose principal  
          duties include active fire suppression or prevention services.

          Legislation: SB 527 (Block), Statutes of 2013, Chapter 66,  
          extends "4850 leave" to lifeguards employed by the City of San  

          Staff Comments: CalFIRE indicates that the bill could cost the  
          department $4.7 million annually, based on the increment between  
          costs currently paid to firefighters under Enhanced Industrial  
          Disability Leave (100 percent of the net salary) and the amount  
          that would be required for those same claims under this bill  
          (100 percent of the gross salary). This amount is approximately  
          a 50 percent increase over existing costs.
          Overtime would be necessary to help backfill the fire  
          suppression positions that are on leave. Currently, CalFIRE is  
          unable to determine how many employees are eligible for Enhanced  
          Industrial Disability Leave. However, the department indicates  
          that the approximate cost for the overtime for every 100  
          firefighters would cost $3.5 million to cover the increment  
          between current Enhanced Industrial Disability Leave and the one  
          year afforded under this bill. The overtime costs would increase  
          to the extend that pay increases are provided. 

          Additionally, the department would require 1.0 Associate  
          Governmental Program Analyst position at a cost of $136,000,  
          annually, and 2.0 Staff Services Analyst positions at a cost of  


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          $238,000 annually, resulting from the increase in workload  
          arising from the need to provide close management of the claims  
          with the goal of returning injured employees to work as quickly  
          as possible. 

          Finally, at the end of the one year period of the leave of  
          absence, if an employee remains temporarily disabled, then the  
          employee would be eligible to receive Temporary Disability  
          payments for an additional year. The increased cost of the  
          benefit itself is further compounded by the cost of overtime to  
          fill behind the injured employee while the employee recovers.  
          The magnitude of these costs is unknown.

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