by Karin Umfrey
Today, we’d like to share with you part 1 of 2 for updates on bills we are supporting this year.
SB 553 (Cortese): Workplace Violence
SB 553 is a strong occupational health and safety bill which would create a new Labor Code section which requires that “every employer shall establish, implement, and maintain, at all times in all of the employer’s facilities, a workplace violence prevention plan for purposes of protecting employees and other personnel from aggressive and violent behavior at the workplace. The workplace violence prevention plan may be incorporated into the written injury prevention program as a separate chapter or may be maintained as a separate document, and shall include” twelve specified elements.
The new Labor Code provision would also require certain information to be recorded in a violence incident log, and would require the employer to establish and implement a system to review the effectiveness of the workplace violence prevention plan. The new section also requires the employer to involve employees and their collective bargaining representatives in the development of the training.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there were approximately 20,790 reported cases of serious workplace violence incidents in the United States in 2019. It’s important to note that workplace violence statistics can vary based on the reporting methods, definitions, and sources of data. Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic has had significant effects on the workplace dynamics, and its impact on workplace violence is an area of ongoing research and analysis. Furthermore, workplace violence is underreported for a variety of reasons, including fear of retaliation, lack of awareness and training, organizational cultures that downplay or dismiss workplace violence, and lack of accessible or effective reporting mechanisms.
Workplace violence can begin with early warning signs. When such behaviors are not addressed properly, they can become normalized or accepted as part of the work environment. These behaviors may then start to escalate. An in-depth and effective workplace violence prevention plan, as recommended by SB 553, would acknowledge and quickly respond to these early warning signs to prevent physical violence.
At times, the legislature must step in to facilitate the expediency of OSH regulations. Cal/OSHA can take many years, sometimes up to a decade, to finally pass a regulation. The first move Cal/OSHA made towards a WPV regulation was six years ago, in 2017, and it’s not even close to being presented to the Standards Board. Even if prioritized by the agency, it would still take another two to three years to finalize.
Please reach out if you’d like updates on how to support this bill.
SB 227 (Durazo): Unemployment: Excluded Workers’ Program — Safety Net 4 All
SB 227 is a bill to create and fund an Excluded Workers Program that provides a crucial safety net for immigrant workers who lose their jobs but are ineligible for Unemployment Insurance and other safety net programs. This would provide temporary wage replacement for undocumented workers who cannot work. Undocumented immigrant workers contribute $3.7 billion in state and local tax revenue, and taxes on their wages contribute an estimated $302 million to the unemployment insurance system in California every year. Link to action
The Governor’s May Revise did not include SB 227, and excludes funding to provide a basic safety net for California workers who lose their jobs, are undocumented, and cannot access unemployment insurance benefits due to their immigration status. However, the Senate Budget plan does still include extending UI benefits to these workers.
There is a floor vote TODAY, 5/25. Call your Senator!
Please check our CA Budget Center’s breakdown and explanation of the May Revise for more information.
The California Work & Family Coalition has a few priorities this year:
SB 616 (Gonzalez): Paid Sick & Safe Days
This bill requires employers to provide seven paid sick days per year. Current California state law requires employers to provide only three paid sick days a year. While there are a few local ordinances in the Bay Area and Los Angeles area that provide more than three paid sick days, not all cities have such ordinances.
This bill would exclude railroads and their employees and would instead allow railroad employees to take at least seven days of unpaid sick leave annually. It also excludes employees who are covered by a valid collective bargaining agreement. SB 616 is off suspense and is headed to the Senate floor.
AB 518 (Wicks): Paid Family Leave for Chosen Family
Currently there is a restrictive family model for California’s paid family leave program (PFL). CA’s PFL provides partial income replacement for qualifying California workers who must take time away from work to care for a seriously ill family member or to bond with a new child. Almost all private sector and some public sector California workers are deducted a certain amount to pay the State Disability Insurance fund, which funds the PFL program. However, LGBTQ+ workers and others are unable to access PFL as many have family relationships with those who may not be biological relatives.
AB 518 would ensure that workers can access the PFL benefits they already pay for to care for a member of their chosen or extended family. AB 518 is off suspense and is headed to the Assembly floor.
AB 524 (Wicks): Family Caregiver Anti-Discrimination Act
California workers are currently protected from discrimination based on race, gender, gender identity, and marital status. The law does not protect workers from being discriminated against because they are family caregivers. That means employees do not have legal protection if their employer treats them unfairly (by denying them an opportunity or promotion) due to assumptions about their ability to do their job because they are a family caregiver — on “the mommy track,” for example, or caring for an aging parent.
The term “mommy track” refers to a phenomenon where oftentimes, women — those who are mothers — face challenges in career advancement and professional growth due to the biases and stereotypes of the demands of motherhood and that the employee is not dedicating sufficient time to the workplace. It is important to note that the mommy track is a reflection of societal and cultural norms rather than a biological limitation. It primarily affects women, perpetuating gender disparities in the workplace and hindering their career progression in an unjust manner.
AB 524 would prohibit employment discrimination on account of family caregiver status. Family caregiver status is defined as a person who contributes to the care of one or more family members, meaning a spouse, child, parent, sibling, grandparent, grandchild, domestic partner, or any other individual related by blood or whose association with the employee is the equivalent of a family relationship. The bill also protects someone’s opportunity “to seek, obtain, and hold employment without discrimination because of family caregiver status as a civil right.” AB 524 is off suspense and is headed to the Assembly floor.
AB 575 (Papan) : Paid Family Leave Improvements
The Work & Family Coalition is also supporting AB 575 (Papan) which would make Paid Family Leave Improvements such as allowing more than one caregiver from receiving Paid Family Leave to care for the same family member at the same time and make PFL available for child bonding when a guardian newly assumes responsibility for a child “in loco parentis.” AB 575 is off Suspense and is headed to the Assembly floor.
Link to action for all CA Work & Family Coalition priority bills.