Employee Relations 01/14/2011
New Legislation Seeks to Cap Public Employee Retirement Benefits
AB 89 (Hill) – Pending
As Introduced on January 6, 2011
AB 89, by Assembly Member Jerry Hill, would place a limit on the amount of annual salary, compensation or payrate used to determine the retirement benefits for members of public retirement systems. The limit may not exceed the amount prescribed in Internal Revenue Service Code 401(a) 17, which places an annual maximum on total compensation used to determine retirement benefits for public retirement plan members hired after 1996. This amount is currently $245,000.
AB 89 is awaiting assignment to a policy committee.
Important New Laws for Employers Now in Effect
Serious Safety Violations Investigations
AB 2774 (Chapter 692, Statutes of 2010), established a rebuttable presumption for when an employer commits a serious violation that causes an employee to suffer or potentially suffer “serious injury or illness” or “serious physical harm.” Specifically, the new law now provides for a rebuttable presumption that a serious violation has occurred if the Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal-OSHA) shows that death or physical harm could result from the hazard created by the violation. The new law went into effect on January 1, 2011.
Employers can rebut this presumption by demonstrating that they took all necessary precautions to prevent the violation and that action was taken to eradicate employee exposure to the hazard once it was discovered.
Heat Illness Regulations
New heat illness regulations developed by Cal-OSHA and approved last October by the Office of Administrative Law went into effect in November 2010. The regulations include:
- Reminding employees to drink water throughout their work shift.
- Ensuring employees have means of contacting a supervisor when necessary.
- Supervising new employees for the first 14 days of employment.
The new regulations prohibit employees from beginning work until
they receive heat illness training and, additionally, clarify
shade requirements. Specifically, the regulations require that
shade must be present at all times when the temperature is
85-degrees Fahrenheit or higher and that the shade must be as
close as possible to a work site. The regulations further clarify
that all industries, excluding agriculture, are able to implement
alternative procedures for providing shade when it is either
unsafe or unfeasible to have a shade-producing structure.
Death Benefit Extensions for Minors
Another new law that went into effect on January 1 was AB 1696 (Chapter 396, Statutes of 2011), which extends workers’ compensation death benefits for a dependent child until the age of 19 if the child is still attending high school. Prior, such death benefits were required to be provided until the child attains 18 years of age.