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New Telework Stipend Program Policy Effective October 1; Retroactive Payments Likely

Posted: 10/7/2021 Tags: legislation policy representation Tags Views: 2396

The Department of Human Resources (CalHR) and the Department of General Services (DGS) have implemented a new Telework Stipend Program and a new statewide Telework Policy – each effective on October 1, 2021. Although the new statewide DGS Telework Policy is now effective, emergency telework provisions still remain in effect.

CalHR confirmed to ACSS that telework stipends for excluded employees are intended to be effective October 1, 2021, but that the payment of the stipends most likely requires a legislative appropriation. This means payments are not expected to begin until the Legislature passes a measure approving the appropriation of funds after returning to session in January 2022. CalHR confirmed that with a legislative appropriation, the telework stipend payments for excluded employees will be retroactive to October 1.

The major provisions of the new Telework Policy and Telework Stipend Program include:

  • An encouragement of teleworking, with management/departments retaining the discretion to find that positions or job classifications are not appropriate for telework
  • Dependent care and personal responsibilities cannot affect work duties or professionalism
  • For employees who telework, they will be either remote-centered (50% or more at home) or office-centered (more than 50% at the office)
    -  Remote-centered employees will receive a $50 per month stipend
    -  Office-centered employees will receive a $25 per month stipend
    -  As employees need to provide adequate internet coverage to perform the job, this is the main basis for the stipend
  • Other equipment and office supplies may be provided or reimbursed (pens, paper, printer ink, etc.)
  • The state will provide equipment for a single dedicated work station for employees
    -  Remote-centered teleworkers shall have their dedicated work station at their designated alternate work location. Remote-centered teleworkers shall use a shared work station when working in the office
    -  Office-centered teleworkers shall have a dedicated work station in the office and utilize their own equipment or department provided mobile equipment for teleworking at their designated alternate work location
  • Each department will have to adopt its own telework policy by October 1, 2022, but cannot alter the CalHR Standard 200 Telework Form

Departments are encouraged by the Administration to determine the maximum level of telework appropriate based on their operational needs with the goal of maximizing telework. ACSS will meet and confer as appropriate over proposed departmental telework policies to protect the interests of supervisors and managers.

ACSS’ legislative advocates will work to ensure the Legislature approves an appropriation to fund the telework stipends for excluded employees. We will keep you apprised of the progress and expected timing of retroactive telework stipend payments for eligible excluded employees.

If you have questions about telework, contact your ACSS Labor Relations Representative.


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Health and Human Services Agency Secretary Urges State Employees to Get Vaccinated; ACSS to Meet with CalHR Over COVID-19 Testing Direction to State Agencies

Posted: 9/30/2021 Tags: COVID-19 health policy representation Tags Views: 294

On September 28, 2021, the California Department of Human Resources (CalHR) shared a letter with ACSS drafted by Dr. Mark Ghaly, Secretary of the California Health and Human Services Agency. Dr. Ghaly’s letter urges all state employees who have not yet been vaccinated to reconsider and get a COVID-19 vaccine. Click here to read Dr. Ghaly’s letter.

State departments continue to develop protocols and provide notice to ACSS over the weekly mandatory COVID-19 testing of unvaccinated employees working on site. The statewide roll-out of this mandatory testing is slower than expected because of the limited availability of testing kits.

ACSS has consistently taken the position that no excluded employee should be mandated to be a COVID-19 “Test Administrator”, responsible for handling potentially infectious swabs, over their objection. The current policy direction of CalHR to state departments is to “highly recommend” the use of supervisors and above to perform these testing duties. ACSS has requested to meet and confer with CalHR over the COVID-19 Test Administrator selection process. ACSS has made a series of proposals to CalHR to strengthen the testing process and protect the interests of excluded employees. We await the scheduling of a meeting with CalHR to discuss ACSS’ proposals.

While awaiting clarification of statewide policy direction from CalHR, ACSS is requesting that all departments select only volunteers to perform the COVID-19 testing functions and that the volunteer pool not be limited to only excluded employees.

If you have questions about vaccine verifications or mandatory COVID-19 testing, contact your ACSS Labor Relations Representative.


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Vacancies Filled and Issues Discussed at ACSS Board Meeting in Sacramento

Posted: 9/29/2021 Tags: Board Meeting compaction meeting policy salary Tags Views: 242

On September 11, 2021, ACSS held an in-person Board of Directors meeting in at the Sheraton Grand Hotel in Sacramento. The first order of business was to fill two vacancies on the ACSS Board of Directors, and a vacancy for a Chapter President. Amal Kattan-Handal was Nominated by Chapter 503 President Jim Teahan and confirmed as the new Board Member for Chapter 503 (Sacramento area). Bret Blaydes was confirmed as the new Board Member for Chapter 509 (Southern Central Valley area). Nicole Stewart was confirmed as President of Chapter 507 (South Bay Area and Monterey). ACSS President Todd D’Braunstein swore in the new Board Members and Chapter Officer by reciting the Oath of Office.

The Board of Directors reviewed information from the PAC/Legislative Committee, the President’s Forum, and other Association business. They discussed the new roll out of virtual Chapter Zoom meetings as a new method of communication. So far, three virtual Chapter meetings have successfully occurred and ACSS plans to continue scheduling virtual meetings as an effective way to conduct Chapter business.

ACSS Assistant Director of Representation Gerald James discussed the many achievements and efforts of the Representation Program that have helped ACSS Members. Throughout the pandemic, ACSS has continued to meet with CalHR to review many long-standing salary inequity issues, address salary compaction and to provide salary proposals and supporting information to CalHR. In spring of 2021, ACSS fought for Special Salary Adjustments (SSA) for excluded employees related to Bargaining Unit 19 (Health and Social Services/Professionals) while Unit 19 was at the bargaining table. Because of ACSS’ advocacy on behalf of supervisors and managers, some classes will receive an 8% SSA, which is the highest salary adjustment for classes related to Unit 19.

Gerald James also talked about the end of the Personal Leave Program salary reductions, which ACSS heavily advocated for and puts more money back into the pockets of ACSS members. Contrary to previous practices and at ACSS’ request, CalHR confirmed the end of the PLP Program and confirmed salary increases for excluded employees in writing to ACSS in mid-June 2021, before official “Pay Letters” went out. In prior years excluded employees had to wait for the state budget to be signed and the pay letters to issue in mid-July. This is proof that CalHR Director Eraina Ortega and Chief Deputy of Labor Relations Paul Starkey are willing to listen to ACSS and to change the status quo for the benefit of ACSS Members. There is still much work to do, but the relationship between CalHR and ACSS will ensure the long-standing issues are fairly evaluated and resolved for the benefit of ACSS Members.

Salary compaction issues remain in many classifications and ACSS continues to fight for equitable pay on behalf of ACSS Members. Among the ACSS proposals being evaluated by CalHR, the most egregious salary compaction classes in need of resolving are within the CDPH Health Facilities Evaluator Classes, Food Service Supervisors, and the Program Director, Program Assistant and Unit Supervisors classes at the Department of State Hospitals and California Correctional Health Care Services.

ACSS continues to fight for special salary adjustment increases for Right-of-Way Agents, Transportation Planners, and Environmental Planners at Caltrans. In addition, we are advocating for safety retirement for Nursing Consultants and reorganizing classifications for Department of Developmental Services for Peace Officers.

Talks between ACSS and CalHR include the teleworking policies and related stipends and vaccine mandates and testing. ACSS and CalHR meet on a quarterly basis and as needed between those standing meetings to discuss and resolve issues that affect ACSS Members. As always, ACSS will keep you informed on policy changes and important issues that affect our Members and all excluded employees.


Bret Blaydes (Chapter 509 Board Member) with ACSS President Todd D'Braunstein.


Amal Kattan-Handal (Chapter 503 Board Member) with ACSS President Todd D'Braunstein.


Nicole Stewart (Chapter 507 President) with ACSS President Todd D'Braunstein.


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Open Enrollment for Health, Dental and Vision Begins September 20, 2021

Posted: 9/17/2021 Tags: benefits health policy Tags Views: 438

Open Enrollment for health, dental and vision coverage starts September 20 and ends October 15. This is your opportunity to evaluate your health care selections and make any changes to your health, dental or vision plans and add or drop dependents effective January 1, 2022.

Dental and vision premiums remain unchanged, but health premiums are increasing. Basic Health Maintenance Organization health plans will increase by an average of 4.69% while Basic Preferred Provider Organization plans will see an average increase of 8.67%. The good news is that these increased premiums are accompanied by a significant increase in the state employer contribution for excluded employees.

The 2022 employer contribution through the Consolidated Benefits (CoBen) allowance to be used for health, dental and vision benefits effective January 1, 2022 will increase by approximately 7 percent to $739 (Single)/$1428 (2-Party)/$1845 (Family). The 2022 excluded employee “Family” employer contribution is an increase of $122 per month over the 2021 amount. With the increased employer CoBen contribution, some excluded employees will actually see a decrease in the employee contribution for the 2022 calendar year, depending on their health plan enrollment.

The employer contribution is calculated based on the weighted average premium of the four largest enrolled health plans. The new 2022 CoBen amount for supervisors, managers, and confidential employees is $55 per month higher than the state employer contribution for most rank-and-file employees.

CalHR has updated the “Benefits Calculator” portion of the CalHR website for comparison of plan costs and calculating your exact out of pocket costs, or your CoBen cash back if your selections are lower than the CoBen Allowance. Visit the CalHR Benefits calculator and select “2022” and “Excluded Employee” before entering your options.

If you would like to explore different health plan options, CalPERS has a tool that allows you to search plan availability and premium rates based on your zip code. Visit the CalPERS website.

Be on the lookout for Open Enrollment forms from your department. If you are not making changes, no action is needed.


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Vaccine Mandates: Ordered for Health Care Facilities; Under Review by Federal Court for CDCR Institutional Settings

Posted: 8/11/2021 Tags: COVID-19 policy representation Tags Views: 691

ACSS has been informed of two recent developments concerning COVID-19 vaccination mandates for employees in “health care facilities” and employees at CDCR institutions.

Emergency Order Requiring Vaccinations in Health Care Settings

On August 5, 2021, the California State Public Health Officer ordered mandatory vaccinations for employees in all “health care facilities” in the state by September 30, 2021. ACSS has requested information from CalHR clarifying the scope of this order as applied to excluded employees. ACSS has also requested information from CalHR regarding the expected employment status of any employee who does not establish proof of vaccination or receive an exception for religious beliefs or a qualified medical exemption by the September 30 deadline.

Court Considers Mandatory Vaccinations for CDCR Employees

On August 9, 2021, a U.S. District Judge ordered briefing over whether COVID-19 vaccinations should be mandatory for CDCR institutional staff. The underlying lawsuit involves medical care in state prisons. The Federal Receiver overseeing medical care in state prisons recommended to the court “that access by workers to CDCR institutions be limited to those workers who establish proof of vaccination (or have established a religious or medical exception to vaccination).” The court has asked the parties whether they agree or disagree with the public health conclusions supporting the Receiver’s recommendation.

There is also some uncertainty over which CDCR employees are covered by the August 5th order of the State Public Health Officer saying that all workers in “health care facilities” must be vaccinated. The court has asked the parties to weigh-in on whether the August 5th order applies to some or all of CDCR’s employees. The matter is tentatively set for a hearing on September 16, 2021.

As additional information is received from CalHR and the courts regarding mandatory vaccination orders, ACSS will continue to evaluate the orders and exception process to ensure the interests of supervisors and managers are protected.

If you have questions about vaccine mandates, contact your ACSS Labor Relations Representative.


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Update on CalHR Vaccine Verification and COVID-19 Testing Direction to State Agencies

Posted: 8/4/2021 Tags: COVID-19 policy representation Tags Views: 985

On July 26, 2021, the California Department of Human Resources (CalHR) announced a policy requiring state departments to have a process for vaccine verification and requiring mandatory COVID-19 testing of unvaccinated employees working on site. On August 3, CalHR Director Eraina Ortega provided a vaccine verification and testing update.

CalHR and the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) are developing a testing program that will be implemented first in four departments - CHP, CalFire, Caltrans and DMV. CalHR and CDPH will meet with those departments later this week. Following the implementation in those departments, CalHR will create the “playbook” for state departments to expand the testing program to all departments. Based on that schedule, it may take some time for testing to be done in all state departments.

CDPH has developed a draft “Antigen Testing Playbook” which is expected to form the basis for the state employee testing process. As the testing protocols are developed for state departments, ACSS will review the testing process (e.g., self-collecting swabs, test results, next steps related to positive tests, data collection) to protect the interest of members. Testing roles and responsibilities and are likely to differ based on the size of departments or worksites.

State departments will receive instructions for reporting both the percentage of employees who have verified their vaccine status and how many employees working on-site are anticipated to be tested at least weekly. Employees without a vaccine verification who telework full time will not be required to test unless they come into the office.

CalHR has confirmed to ACSS that as testing protocols are developed, departments will provide notice to ACSS and an opportunity to meet and confer over the impact to ensure the interests of supervisors and managers are protected.

If you have questions about vaccine verifications or the testing requirements, contact your ACSS Labor Relations Representative.


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CalHR Issues COVID-19 Testing Direction to State Agencies

Posted: 7/27/2021 Tags: COVID-19 policy representation Tags Views: 1730

The California Department of Human Resources has provided direction to state departments requiring mandatory COVID-19 testing of unvaccinated state employees working on site. The CalHR direction follows an increase in case rates tied to low vaccination rates in some communities and the increased transmissibility of the Delta variant.


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CalHR Issues Pay Letters Ending the PLP 2020 Reduction and Implementing Salary Increases

Posted: 7/9/2021 Tags: benefits budget legislation policy representation salary Tags Views: 2088

This week CalHR issued two pay letters impacting excluded employees. Pay Letter 21-18 ends the pay reductions (generally 9.23%) from the Personal Leave Program 2020. Pay Letter 21-19 increases salaries for most excluded employees through General Salary Increases and includes a number of Special Salary Adjustments. The State Controller’s Office is implementing these changes with the July 2021 pay period warrants.

All excluded employees are receiving the same General Salary Increases as related rank-and-file employees and from ACSS’ initial review, it appears all Special Salary Adjustments have been passed along to related supervisors and managers.

ACSS awaits a pay letter for the July 1, 2021 General Salary Increase (5.06%) and Special Salary Adjustments for S19 and M19 employees. ACSS will keep impacted employees apprised of the expected timing of these salary adjustments.

CalHR has informed ACSS that the resumption of the “OPEB/CERBT” employee contribution is now expected to also take effect with the July pay warrant. This employee contribution to prefund retiree health care benefits was suspended during the PLP 2020 pay reductions with the state picking up the employees’ portion. The employee contributions generally range from 2 percent to 4.6 percent of salary.

With salaries restored, ACSS now looks forward to working in earnest with CalHR and impacted departments to address a number of supervisory and managerial pay and classification issues.

Pay Letter 21-18 ending the PLP 2020 reductions can be read here.

The portions of Pay Letter 21-19 affecting excluded employees can be read here. (page 14 through 45.)

If you have questions about the salary increases or the prefunding of retiree healthcare, please contact your ACSS Labor Relations Representative.


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CalHR Issues Face Covering Direction to State Agencies

Posted: 6/22/2021 Tags: COVID-19 policy representation Tags Views: 1099

On June 21, 2021, California Department of Human Resources (CalHR) Director Eraina Ortega provided updated requirements for the use of face coverings to state departments. The CalHR direction follows June 17, 2021 amendments to the California Occupational Safety and Health Board regulations.

Face coverings are not required for fully vaccinated individuals except in certain settings including correctional facilities, health care settings, school and childcare settings and public transit.

Face coverings are required for unvaccinated individuals in state offices, with exceptions for employees who cannot wear a face covering due to a medical condition or disability, employees who are hearing impaired where the ability to see the mouth is essential to communication, or wearing a face covering creates a workplace safety guideline risk. Face coverings are limited to surgical masks, medical procedure masks, a respirator, or at least two layers of tightly woven or non-woven material. Scarfs, bandanas, and single layers of fabric are excluded.

Upon request, departments must provide unvaccinated employees with an N95 respirator. Departments are directed to establish a procedure to provide N95 coverings to employees requesting one.

Documenting Vaccination Status

“Fully vaccinated” means the employer has documented the employee has received, at least 14-days prior, the second dose of a two-dose vaccine or a single dose vaccine.

Departments are directed to implement a procedure where employees can self-attest to their vaccination status. No verification is required and the voluntary attestation record will not reside in an employee’s personnel file. No medical information should be revealed and departments should not ask questions of employees who choose not to provide vaccine status information.

Departments are directed to update policies on workplace bullying/violence to address issues such as commenting about mask/non-mask wearers or not respecting a request for social distance.

As departmental policies are developed, ACSS will meet-and-confer where appropriate to ensure the interests of supervisors and managers are protected. If you have questions about face covering policies, contact your ACSS Labor Relations Representative.

The CalHR direction can be read here.


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ACSS Meets with CalHR: PLP 2020 to End, Excluded Employee Salary Increases July 1, 2021

Posted: 6/16/2021 Tags: bargaining benefits budget policy salary Tags Views: 5107

ACSS met with the Department of Human Resources (CalHR) on June 15, 2021 to discuss pay and benefits for the state’s supervisory, managerial, confidential and exempt employees.

Excluded Employee Pay Plan for 2021-2022

CalHR has confirmed to ACSS that the Personal Leave Program (PLP) salary reductions of 9.23% will end effective June 30, 2021. Full salaries will be restored for all excluded employees and accrual of PLP days will end. CalHR has also confirmed that generally, excluded employees will receive the same percentage salary increases as the bargaining unit to which they are affiliated.

The Exempt and Excluded Employee Pay Plan includes:

  • An end to the Personal Leave Program salary reduction of 9.23%
  • General Salary Increases effective July 1, 2021:

    EXCLUDED EMPLOYEES AFFILIATED WITH BARGAINING UNIT: GSI
    1, 3, 4, 11, 14, 15, 17, 20, 21 (SEIU Units)  4.55%
    2 (+1.33% additional salary adjustment for all)  4.04%
     5  4.90%
     6  5.58%
     7  5.06%
     9  5.58%
     10  7.63%
     12  5.06%
     13  5.83%
     16  5.06%
     18  5.58%
     19*  5.06%
  • Special Salary Adjustments and Pay Differentials will be extended to exempt and excluded employees where appropriate.
  • Employees will resume the “OPEB” contribution to pre-fund retiree health care (the amount varies from 1.4% to 4.6% of salary). The deduction is expected to resume with the August 2021 pay warrant.
  • All exempt and excluded employees associated with the SEIU bargaining units will continue to receive the $260 taxable cash benefit (health affordability payment) through June 30, 2022.

Exempt and Excluded Employees not directly tied to a bargaining unit (such as many employees who have an “E” Collective Bargaining Identifier) are expected to receive the 4.55% GSI.

CalHR is working on the “Pay Letters” and expects the salary adjustments to be reflected in the July pay warrants. As the pay letters are developed, ACSS will continue advocacy with CalHR to ensure excluded employees receive all appropriate special salary adjustments.

Negotiations between CalHR and the representatives for rank-and-file bargaining unis 8, 10 and 19 for new labor contracts continue. ACSS has proposed that any increases in those MOUs also be provided to related excluded employees.

Other Salary and Benefit Advocacy for ACSS Members Continues

At the June 15, 2021 meeting, CalHR and ACSS continued the discussion of salary inequities and classification issues for excluded employees.

CalHR has again committed to providing substantive responses to many ACSS proposals including:

  • Allocating Nursing Consultant, Program Review employees to State Safety Retirement
  • Salary inequity adjustments for Program Directors, Program Assistants, and Unit Supervisors
  • Salary inequity adjustments for excluded Environmental Planners, Transportation Planners and Right-of-Way Agents
  • Reclassification and salary adjustments for the excluded employees in the Health Facility Evaluator Series
  • Salary inequity adjustments for the Food Service Supervisor excluded classes for fiscal year 2020-2021.

ACSS will continue to keep impacted members apprised of the status of potential increases to pay and benefits.

* BU 19 UPDATED as of 7/1/2021


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