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SELECTED INDICATORS IN WORKERS’ COMPENSATION:  A REPORT CARD FOR CALIFORNIANS

Impact of Senate Bill 228

SB 228 adds Labor Code Section 3201.7, establishing the creation of a new carve-out program for any unionized industry that meets the requirements. This is in addition to the existing carve-out in the construction industry already covered in current law by Labor Code Section 3201.5.  

Only the union may initiate the carve-out process by petitioning the AD.  The AD will review the petition according to the statutory requirements and issue a letter allowing each employer and labor representative a one-year window for negotiations.  The parties may jointly request a one-year extension to negotiate the labor-management agreement.  

In order to be considered, the carve-out must meet several requirements including:

The union has petitioned the AD as the first step in the process.

A labor-management agreement has been negotiated separate and apart from any collective-bargaining agreement covering affected employees.

The labor-management agreement has been negotiated in accordance with the authorization of the AD between an employer or groups of employers and a union that is the recognized or certified as the exclusive bargaining representative that establishes any of the following:

o

An alternative dispute resolution system governing disputes between employees and employers or their insurers that supplements or replaces all or part of those dispute resolution processes contained in this division, including, but not limited to, mediation and arbitration.  Any system of arbitration shall provide that the decision of the arbiter or board of arbitration is subject to review by the WCAB in the same manner as provided for reconsideration of a final order, decision, or award made and filed by a workers' compensation administrative law judge.

o

The use of an agreed list of providers of medical treatment that may be the exclusive source of all medical treatment provided under this division.

o

The use of an agreed, limited list of QMEs and agreed medical evaluators (AMEs) that may be the exclusive source of QMEs and AMEs under this division.

o

A joint labor-management safety committee.

o

A light-duty, modified job or RTW program.

o

A vocational rehabilitation or retraining program utilizing an agreed list of providers of rehabilitation services that may be the exclusive source of providers of rehabilitation services under this division.

The minimum annual employer premium for the carve-out program for employers with 50 employees or more is $50,000, and the minimum group premium is $500,000.  

Any agreement must include right of counsel throughout the alternative dispute resolution process.

Impact of Senate Bill 899

Construction industry carve-outs were amended per Labor Code Section 3201.5 and carve-outs in other industries were amended per Labor Code Section 3201.7 to permit the parties to negotiate any aspect of the delivery of medical benefits and the delivery of disability compensation to employees of the employer or group of employers who are eligible for group health benefits and non-occupational disability benefits through their employer.

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