Public Safety Workers’ Comp Benefits Extension Moves Forward
April 8, 2016
SB 897 (Roth) was heard and passed by the Senate Labor and Industrial Relations Committee on April 6. The bill would allow public safety employees an additional year of a leave of absence without loss of salary (commonly known as 4850 benefits) when injured by a “severe” “catastrophic injury” at the hands of another.
This bill, while well-intentioned, creates additional burdens without offsetting benefit: CSAC believes that the current benefits available to public safety employees provide an optimal balance between providing fair treatment and rehabilitation benefits to injured workers while also maintaining a stable fiscal situation for local governments. CSAC is leading a coalition of organizations opposed to SB 897, including the League of California Cities, Rural County Representatives of California, California Special Districts Association, California Association of Joint Powers Agreements, and the CSAC Excess Insurance Authority.
Current law allows any injured worker who cannot return to normal or modified work duties as the result of a workplace injury or illness to two years of temporary disability. These benefits include a pay rate two-thirds of the average weekly wage over the previous year, with no federal or state income taxes paid on the benefits. Current law provides even more generous benefits for public safety employees who are injured on the job, including up to one year of full salary, not subject to taxes, with continued accrual of vacation leave, sick leave, and retirement benefits. Following the year of fully-paid leave, public safety employees are entitled to one additional year of temporary disability benefits. Additionally, local units of government are permitted to extend benefits on a case-by-case basis if they see fit.
CSAC will keep counties updated on any developments.