California Supplemental Sick Leave Extended


January 26th, 2022

Eric De Wames, Managing Partner Employment Law Division, Michael Sullivan & Associates, LLP.

On Tuesday a deal was struck between Gov. Newsom and California lawmakers to provide a new Supplemental Sick Leave similar to the one that expired on September 30.  Although not yet in final form, here are the components we expect:

  • Applies to employers with 26+ employees;
  • Provides up to 2 weeks (80 hours) of paid leave to care for yourself or family with COVID and other qualifying reasons (e.g. children school closures) as the previous leave permitted;
  • The first 40 hours are flexible, but to be eligible for the additional 40, proof of a positive test will be required;
  • Potential tax credits for employers to absorb the financial burden;
  • Retroactive to 1/1/22 – not 9/30/21;
  • Expires 9/30/22.

This would be an additional 80 hours, so employees who exhausted the prior sick leave would still be eligible. These are only anticipated components to the law, but the final version is not yet available and may be quite different in its final form. We will provide a complete analysis of the law once available, which will also be included in our free e-book “Navigating COVID-19”.

Until then, take a deep breath and prepare for the latest COVID hustle to get compliant!

Eric De Wames

Eric H. De Wames is the Managing Partner of the Employment Law Department with Michael Sullivan and Associates, LLP. View Mr. De Wames full bio here.

DWC Announces Virtual Hearings Starting Jan. 12, 2022


Urgent Report

DWC Announces Virtual Hearings Starting Jan. 12, 2022

On Jan. 11, 2022, the Division of Workers’ Compensation (DWC) announced that all hearings would be conducted virtually as of Jan. 12, 2022. That means that all trials, lien trials, expedited hearings and Special Adjudication Unit (SAU) trials will be heard telephonically. Mandatory settlement conferences, priority conferences, status conferences, SAU conferences and lien conferences will continue to be held on the individually assigned judges’ conference lines.

The decision to pause in-person hearings was made because of the recent surge in COVID-19 cases. The pause will continue through the end of the month and is to be re-evaluated then. DWC hearing notices will not change, but parties are given notice that as of Jan. 12, 2022, if a trial, expedited hearing, lien trial or SAU trial is set at a district office, all parties should call the judges’ assigned conference line and not appear in person.

The conference lines are found on the DWC webpage. All division offices will remain open. If parties have questions on a specific case, they are instructed to contact the DWC call center at (909) 383-4522.

Effective Jan. 1, 2022, new regulations were adopted regarding electronic hearings, and, per CCR 10815, a party may object to an electronic hearing by filing a written objection showing good cause. During the prior period when in-person testimony was suspended, the WCAB issued a significant panel decision in Gao v. Chevron Corp. (2021) 86 CCC 44 stating that it would be “inappropriate to institute a blanket rule that it is per se unreasonable to continue a case to allow for in-person testimony,” but that “the default position should be that trials proceed remotely, in the absence of some clear reason why the facts of a specific case require a continuance.”

So, a party still may request that a trial be conducted in person but must present good cause for it –– a clear reason for an in-person hearing must be given. Even if good cause is established, however, it’s unlikely that the DWC will allow in-person testimony during the current pause of in-person hearings. Instead, it probably will continue the matter until it believes in-person hearings can be conducted safely.

For a detailed discussion of the impact of COVID-19 on appearances before the board, review the section on Court Appearances from our partners at Michael Sullivan & Associates’ Navigating COVID-19: A Legal Guide For California Employers.

I am text block. Click edit button to change this text. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut elit tellus, luctus nec ullamcorper mattis, pulvinar dapibus leo.

IEA Logo

About IEA

IEA is the leading provider of professional training and education in workers’ compensation, disability management, risk management and human resources. To learn more about our programs and services, visit our website at www.ieatraining.org.

Absence & Disability Management – Convincing Your Senior Leadership to Invest


Absence & Disability Management
Convincing Your Senior Leadership to Invest
.

December 15th, 2021, by ShaunTeah L. Radcliffe, CPDM

$6.2 million, $8.6 million, $20 million, $125 million, $125 million, $175 million, what do all these numbers have in common?  Are they lottery jackpot payouts?  Close but not quite. These are dollar amounts that medium to large corporations have paid out as settlements for missteps in the absence and disability space.

Absence and disability management is a highly regulated area with many loopholes and plenty of opportunities not to get it right. Unfortunately, many organizations may follow that adage, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” As a result, the absence and disability area, although an essential part of organizational compliance, flies under the radar and is overlooked until the EEOC comes a-knocking.  Just remember, even a well-oiled machine requires some form of maintenance to keep it in working order, and it can’t be overlooked forever. Otherwise, as we have proven in the introduction, a blind eye may have dire dollar consequences.

How do you get your senior leaders excited about investing in this area? How do you ensure that you have the correct size team to meet your organization’s absence and disability demands?  How do you educate your managers to spot potential exposure and engage absence and disability professionals early in the process? Finally, how do you ensure that your team and your organization can quickly adapt to the ever-changing federal, state, and even local regulations in this area?

You can use attention grabbers like I did because money definitely talks.

However, the more profound question is beyond the dollar signs. It is often difficult to justify spending when you cannot quantify actual dollar savings because regular payroll expenses often mask absence and disability costs.  Absence and Disability Professionals are in a unique situation. They are at the level where they can gather valuable information and insight from a diverse group of managers, human resources representatives, and employees to detect when processes may not work or where there are gaps in synergies.  So how do we take these learnings and feed them up the chain so that this valuable information becomes useful to senior leaders?

Does your organization support a culture where ideas can be presented up the chain?  If not, what’s the workaround?  How will improving the absence and disability space in your organization improve employee morale, reduce wellness and benefits costs, reduce temporary labor costs and increase and maintain productivity when those unplanned absences occur so that the business continues without missing a beat?

We can’t answer all of the absence and disability management questions in this short blog post, but have I piqued your interest?  Have you started to ask yourself questions about available resources to assist with solving how to get senior leadership’s attention?

The three-part Certified Professional Disability Management (CPDM) course explores these questions and many more.

ShaunTeah Radcliffe

ShaunTeah L. Radcliffe, CPDM is a subject matter expert in absence and disability management with more than 10 years of professional experience in managing and training professionals to ensure compliance and resolution of complex leave of absence and workplace accommodation requests. ShaunTeah is a contributor to the development of IEA’s newly revamped Certified Professional in Disability Management (CPDM) curriculum

About IEA
The Insurance Education (IEA) is the leading provider of professional development programs in Workers’ Compensation, Disability Management, Risk Management and Human Resources.

Reasonable Accommodation Process


Workplace Accommodations – Year End is the The Perfect Time to Review Company Policies and Procedures.

December 2021, by ShaunTeah L. Radcliffe, CPDM

What exactly is a reasonable workplace accommodation? A reasonable accommodation is a temporary or permanent change to the job or hiring process that allows an employee or applicant to perform the job’s essential functions and enjoy equal access to employment opportunities that do not cause undue hardship or direct threat to the employer or employee. You are probably saying, well, that’s a mouthful, give it to me in laymen’s terms.

How about we discuss some examples of reasonable workplace accommodations instead? Some examples include the following:

  • Allowing a service/support animal to accompany the employee to work to aid with anxiety triggers.
  • Providing a stool for an employee with a knee problem to take sitting breaks while they still work the register
  • Allowing a pregnant employee to take additional breaks for hydration
  • Providing reserved parking for an employee with a heart condition because the regular walk from the employee parking aggravates the employee’s condition
  • Aiding a vision-impaired applicant with the application process
  • Providing alternate methods for online training or presentation of materials

So how do we execute a process to ensure that our workplace accommodations are reasonable and support the organization’s needs and allow the employee to perform the essential functions of their job without causing undue hardship?

  1. Identify the potential workplace accommodation request – Disability disclosure should always be acknowledged. Managers and HR Professionals should be trained regularly to identify potential accommodation concerns. The employee does not have to explicitly request an accommodation. Managers should be aware of behavior changes or dialogue that may indicate a concern. (see my previous blog on this topic here)
  2. Initiate an interactive dialogue – now that we have identified a concern, we need to initiate a conversation to understand any potential barriers and how they may be addressed. This conversation should include both the manager and the employee. The discussion should be an information gathering session to understand the barriers and the job functions and inform the manager, employee, or applicant what to expect during the process.
  3. Obtain documentation – some accommodations are quick, simple, and easy if the accommodation is obvious. If the accommodation is not obvious, you may need to request documentation from the employee’s medical provider.
  4. Continue interactive dialogue – Accommodations are not one size fits all, and requests should be reviewed individually. Once medical documentation has been received, continue interactive discussions with the manager, employee, or applicant to clarify any questions and discuss potential accommodations. Agree on an accommodation that is reasonable and effective. A best practice is always to ensure that the parties understand what to expect as you move through the process.
  5. Implement and monitor the accommodation – Accommodations may be implemented on a trial basis and adjusted as changes to the workplace or the employee’s condition changes. Interactive dialogue should be ongoing to ensure that the accommodation remains effective. Make adjustments to the approved accommodation as new information becomes available.
  6. Document, Document, Document – Maintain accurate and detailed records of discussions regarding the accommodation.

If you still need assistance, many resources are available for navigating workplace accommodations, such as the Job Accommodation Network (JAN) that provides free expert and confidential guidance for workplace accommodations.  

ShaunTeah Radcliffe

ShaunTeah L. Radcliffe, CPDM is a subject matter expert in absence and disability management with more than 10 years of professional experience in managing and training professionals to ensure compliance and resolution of complex leave of absence and workplace accommodation requests. ShaunTeah is a contributor to the development of IEA’s newly revamped Certified Professional in Disability Management (CPDM) curriculum

About IEA
The Insurance Education (IEA) is the leading provider of professional development programs in Workers’ Compensation, Disability Management, Risk Management and Human Resources.