New Workers Comp Laws In California

Governor Jerry Brown had until September 30, 2018 to sign or veto any bill passed by the California Legislature. Governor Brown signed the following workers’ comp-related bills signed into law:

PEACE OFFICERS: Assembly Bill 1749

This bill provides that a California employer may accept liability for an injury sustained by a peace officer not acting under the immediate direction of his or her employer while apprehending suspected law violators, protecting life or property, or preserving the peace outside of California. This bill specifically includes any claims for injuries sustained by peace officers during the Oct. 1, 2017 mass shooting in Las Vegas, Nev. if the employer determines providing compensation serves public purposes.

FRAUD ASSESSMENT COMMISSION FUNDS: Assembly Bill 2046

This bill authorizes, instead of requires, Fraud Assessment Commission funds appropriated but not expended in the fiscal year that have not been allocated to the district attorneys, to be applied to satisfy the immediately following fiscal year minimum total amount required or to augment funding in the immediately following fiscal year.

The bill also requires an authorized government agency that is provided with workers’ comp insurance fraud-related information to release or provide that information to an authorized government agency, upon request, unless it would violate federal law or otherwise compromise an investigation. The bill also requires an authorized government agency that seeks to disclose information obtained from the Employment Development Department to any other governmental agency that is not authorized to receive that information to obtain EDD approval prior to disclosure.

LICENSED CONTRACTORS: Assembly Bill 2705

Licensed contractors are required to have a current and valid Certificate of Workers’ Compensation Insurance or Certification of Self-Insurance on file with the Contractors’ State License Board and violation of this law is a misdemeanor that must be prosecuted within 2 years. This bill makes it a misdemeanor violation for an unlicensed contractor to fail to comply with workers’ compensation insurance requirements and makes that violation subject to the two-year statute of limitations.

DISABILITY INDEMNITY PAYMENTS: Senate Bill 880

This bill authorizes an employer, with the written consent of the employee, to deposit disability indemnity payments for the employee in a prepaid card account until Jan. 1, 2023. The bill imposes certain conditions, such as allowing the employee reasonable access to in network ATMs and allowing for withdrawal and purchases without incurring fees. The bill also requires employers to provide aggregated data on their prepaid account programs to the Commission on Health and Safety and Workers’ Compensation upon request and requires CHSWC to issue a report to the Legislature on or before Dec. 1, 2022 regarding payments made to those prepaid card accounts.

PEACE OFFICERS & ACTIVE FIREFIGHTING MEMBERS: Senate Bill 1086

With respect to peace officers and active firefighting members, existing law extends the time period for commencing workers’ comp proceedings to collect death benefits from 240 weeks from the date of injury to no later than 420 weeks from the date of injury, not to exceed one year after the date of death. Pursuant to existing law, this extension of time pertains to injuries, including but not limited to cancer, tuberculosis, or blood-borne infectious diseases and is only operative until January 1, 2019. This bill removes the Jan. 1, 2019 date of repeal.