Supplemental job displacement bill repeated

By CMTA Staff

Capitol Update, March 21, 2008 Share this on FacebookTweet thisEmail this to a friend

On March 26th the Senate Labor and Industrial Relations Committee will hear SB 1189 (Gil Cedillo, D-Los Angeles) which requires employers to provide an injured employee with a voucher for supplemental job displacement (SJDV) benefits under the workers' compensation system within 74 days of the determination that the disability is permanent and stationary.  The voucher is based on a "reasonable estimate" of that injured worker’s level of permanent disability.  

This bill is identical to last year’s AB 1636 (Tony Mendoza, D-Artesia) which was vetoed by Governor Schwarzenegger.  Since then, the Governor directed the Division of Workers’ Compensation to work with all interested parties to find a more appropriate solution to this problem.

As did AB 1636, SB 1189 overrides the workers’ compensation reforms made in 2004 and creates additional financial burdens on employers.  It would expose employers to additional litigation over when the vouchers were issued and in what amount.

Currently, SJDV benefits are awarded to injured workers whose permanent disability percentage has been determined and cannot return to employment with their at-injury employer.  SB 1189 now requires that the benefit be provided before an employer knows if there will be either of the two qualifying events – permanent disability or an ability to return to work.

SB 1189 requires an employer to provide an increased benefit to an injured worker in the event that their "reasonable estimate" is low.  However, the bill does not provide any remedy to an employer that provides a benefit for which the injured worker is not ultimately eligible.  This means that an employer would be financially penalized for complying with the law and making a "reasonable estimate" of the injured worker’s permanent disability.  

CMTA is opposed to this approach, believing it unfair to the employer.  We will continue working with the Governor’s administration to find a more comprehensive and effective solution to the complicated issue of return-to-work provisions within the workers’ compensation system.

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