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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: 1434

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: 881

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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Leave Buy-Back Program Authorized for Excluded Employees

Posted: 4/20/2021 Tags: benefits legislation policy representation salary Tags Views: 1929

CalHR and the Department of Finance have authorized the Excluded Employee Leave Buy-Back Program for 2020-2021. Employees designated Exempt, Supervisory, Managerial or Confidential may elect to be paid at their regular salary rate in exchange for up to 80 hours of unused leave (vacation or annual leave, voluntary personal leave, personal holiday or holiday credit). Note that Personal Leave Program 2020 leave (or prior PLP leave) may not be cashed out. Payment is out of existing appropriations, so each department’s participation is subject to the availability of departmental funds.

No later than May 1, 2021, your department should notify you whether the department has funds to participate and how much leave (up to 80 hours) that you will be able to cash out. The notification will include a deadline to submit your request to cash out leave. Departments may issue payments as early as May, but no later than June 30, 2021.

Authorization of the leave buy-back program is welcome news and reflective of the vastly improved state budget situation over last year’s pandemic related budget predictions. ACSS members are encouraged to evaluate their accrued leave status and consider cashing out leave as part of an overall strategy to remain compliant with leave caps.

Click here to view the CalHR policy manual covering leave buy-back.

If you have questions regarding leave buy-back program issues, please contact your ACSS Labor Relations Representative.


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CalHR Issues Telework Update to State Agencies

Posted: 4/7/2021 Tags: COVID-19 legislation policy representation Tags Views: 1995

On April 6, 2021 California Department of Human Resources (CalHR) Director Eraina Ortega provided a telework update to state departments. Director Ortgea confirmed the Administration’s direction is to continue keeping eligible employees on telework schedules and that the emergency telework policy remains in effect. Within that framework, each department is directed to assess the appropriate level of telework that it will maintain, based on operational needs and employee safety.

Director Ortega’s message noted the Administration continues to support telework as a long-term strategy to decrease office space, allow flexibility for employees, and provide resiliency in the case of future emergencies. Departments are encouraged to think about work culture for the near future including hybrid workplaces, hoteling strategies, and ways to improve communications and collaboration. Departments are also encouraged to get feedback from employees on their telework experiences to help make decisions going forward.

Telework remains a prominent topic of decisions in ACSS’ meetings with CalHR. Director Ortega has informed ACSS that CalHR plans to introduce more telework training in the near future for supervisors and managers.

The state is continuing their effort to update the statewide Telework Policy. It is anticipated that once the statewide policy is finalized, that individual departments will adopt their own telework policies. ACSS has been involved with CalHR throughout discussions in regards to this topic. ACSS will continue to meet with the state over proposed departmental telework policies to protect the interests of excluded employees.

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


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ACSS Call with CalHR and Finance - No Federal Funds to Reverse Employee Compensation Cuts

Posted: 10/15/2020 Tags: budget COVID-19 policy representation salary Tags Views: 2015

On October 14, ACSS joined CalHR Director Eraina Ortega and Chief Deputy Paul Starkey on a call with labor unions and employee organizations providing an update from Director of Finance Keely Bosler on the efforts to secure additional federal funding.

Triggers to Restore Employee Compensation Not Met

The 2020-2021 State Budget Act (AB 89) includes trigger language that would restore 18 categories of budget cuts if additional federal funds are available by October 15, 2020.

In a surprise to no one, Finance Director Bosler reported that no additional federal money was received by the deadline and therefore none of the Budget Act cuts will be restored.

Under Section 8.28 of the Budget Act, if $14 billion were received, the restored funding for employee compensation would add up to $1.89 billion which would end the PLP 2020 program (Section 3.90) and potentially restore the suspended general salary increases for state employees (Section 3.91). With receipt of federal funds by October 15 of more than $2 billion, but less than $14 billion, the restoration among the 18 budget categories would be proportional.

Although this means the PLP 2020 program will likely remain in place at least through the end of the budget year in June 2021, no additional state employee compensation cuts have been authorized by the Legislature.

Deficits Remain and Expenditures Up, but Budget Outlook Not as Dire as Projected in April 2020

Finance Director Bosler noted the Administration is continuing the effort to obtain needed federal funds as deficits are projected for the next few years. With any funds received after the October 15 Budget Act deadline, it is likely the Administration would work with the Legislature again to allocate those funds.

The Finance April 2020 economic forecast was bad, but thankfully was wrong with several months of revenue coming in higher than anticipated. At the same time expenditures related to wildfires have been higher than expected. While deficits will continue to be projected as the Governor’s 2021-2022 proposed budget is put together, they will be smaller deficits than originally projected.

There is no hard state hiring freeze as they want to continue to have flexibility to hire where needed. State departments will be getting instructions through a Finance budget letter to plan to reduce operating expenses by 5 percent for FY 21-22.


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Paychecks and a California Supreme Court Pension Ruling

Posted: 7/31/2020 Tags: benefits legislation pension policy representation retirement salary Tags Views: 2754

Pay Warrants

Not all of the July 1, 2020 adjustments and increases have made it into state employee pay warrants. Excluded employees related to the SEIU bargaining units (1, 3, 4, 11, 14, 15, 17, 20 and 21) will see the $260 health affordability payment in a separate pay warrant, which appears to be on track to issue within approximately two weeks.

As expected, the pay warrants of excluded employees related to IUOE units 12 and 13 contain the “OPEB/CERBT” deduction for prefunding retiree healthcare. We await the pay letter and differential providing pay to offset this deduction. ACSS also expects implementation of a special salary adjustment for employees in the criminalist series and an adjustment to longevity pay for some S07 and M07 excluded employees.

An error at the State Controller’s Office resulted in too little being withheld from July paychecks for the employee portion of the required contribution toward retirement. The amount of the error varies based on salary, but is estimated to be near $100 for the highest earners and less for other employees. Next month’s paychecks will have the correct amount deducted for retirement. Next month will also include an additional one time employee deduction labeled as “*PERS ADJ” to collect the rest of the July employee retirement contribution. This means that state employees will not likely see the “correct” amount of their take home pay checks until the September pay period.

There are a very small number of ACSS members who were excluded by CalHR from expected special salary adjustments. ACSS will continue to work with CalHR to address these exclusions and other issues arising in connection with salary adjustments.

Pension Ruling Preserves the Core of the “California Rule”

The California Supreme Court issued a unanimous ruling on July 30, 2020 in Alameda County Deputy Sheriff's Association v. Alameda County Employees’ Retirement Association. This significant pension case concerned pension cuts for local public employees following the Public Employees’ Pension Reform Act of 2013 (PEPRA) where overtime, callback and vacation pay were eliminated from pension calculations.

Although it is a local pension case, the legal issues concerned the long standing “California Rule.” Since 1955, the courts have held under the California Rule that once pension benefits are granted to a public employee, they are vested and cannot be modified for the duration of an employee’s career.

ACSS joined in the requests for the high court to hear this pension case to preserve the long-standing California Rule to protect from the possibility of your pension being changed by future legislation or through an initiative measure. With this California Supreme Court ruling, that goal was largely accomplished.

Although the court allowed the pension modifications challenged by the local unions, it did so by finding the changes closed loopholes to eliminate pension spiking. This narrow approach rejected the arguments to rescind or modify the California Rule and broadly allow changes to vested pension rights.

The ruling may present an opportunity for narrow pension modifications, but any modifications still have to meet stringent constitutional standards protected by the contracts clause. In short, the core defined benefit formulas and provisions governing state employee pensions and retirement calculations remain protected and unaffected by this decision.


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CalHR Issues Pay Letters and Pay Differentials Adjusting Pay

Posted: 7/17/2020 Tags: benefits budget COVID-19 legislation policy representation salary Tags Views: 5253

This week CalHR issued a series of Pay Letters and Pay Differentials adjusting pay for excluded employees. CalHR confirmed to ACSS that the expectation remains that the State Controller’s Office will implement the major changes with the July pay period. This means the next paychecks are expected to include the following:

Personal Leave Program 2020 – a reduction in pay of 9.23% (equivalent to two days’ pay) and accrual of 16 hours of personal leave credit, to be used in the same manner as vacation/annual leave and before any other paid leave (except sick leave).

Suspension of “OPEB/CERBT” Employee Contribution – excluded employees will not pay the contribution to prefund retiree healthcare. The contributions range generally from 2 percent to 4.6 percent of salary. Excluded employees related to bargaining units 12 and 13 will continue to see the deduction, but will receive a pay differential in an equivalent amount. (This pay differential has not yet issued, but is expected to be retroactive to July 1, 2020 if not implemented with the July pay warrant.)

Although General Salary Increases effective July 1, 2020 were suspended or deferred, Merit Salary Adjustments for employees not at the top step of their classifications are unaffected and will continue.

Exempt and Excluded Employees Associated with SEIU Bargaining Units (1, 3, 4, 11, 14, 15, 17, 20, and 21)

  • $260 per month taxable cash benefit to improve access and affordability of healthcare
  • Geographic Pay of $250 per month for employees working in Orange, Santa Cruz, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo Counties
  • Special Salary Adjustments (generally 5%) for employees in nearly 100 classifications

>>Click here to review the Pay Letter listing the excluded employee classifications receiving the SSA increases.

Exempt and Excluded Employees Associated with Unit 18

  • A General Salary Increase of 2.75% retroactive to January 1, 2020
  • A Special Salary Adjustment at the top step of 2.5%, effective July 1, 2020 (S18 and M18 employees at the top step of the class for 12 months or more will receive the increase immediately; others will receive the increase through Merit Salary Adjustments when eligible)

As of today, ACSS awaits a Pay Letter implementing expected salary adjustments for S07 and M07 excluded employees related to the Criminalist series and changes to longevity pay, and a change to a pay differentials for DSH Police Officers and S16 and M16 employees for Continuing Medical Education expenses.

ACSS’ initial review has identified a few anomalies in the Special Salary Adjustments. We will pursue clarification and possible corrections or potential amendments to the Pay Letters with CalHR.


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Excluded Employee Compensation Update – Personal Leave Program


The employee compensation reductions called for by the Governor and reflected in the state budget are coming into focus. The Legislature encouraged rank-and-file groups to agree to reductions through collective bargaining. Without those agreements, the Legislature would authorize employee compensation reductions. Two groups have reached agreement, including SEIU Local 1000 representing nine of the State’s 21 bargaining units and the California Correctional Peace Officers Association (CCPOA), representing Bargaining Unit 6.

The Local 1000 agreement gives a road map to other bargaining units and sets the expectations for likely excluded employee compensation adjustments – a two-day per month “Personal Leave Program” offset in part by suspending the employee contribution to pre-fund retiree health care. This framework is consistent with the approach ACSS has advocated for in light of the excluded employee compensation reductions required by the recent COVID-19 related budget deficits being addressed by the revised state budget.

SEIU Local 1000 Agreement

The tentative agreement or “Side Letter” to modify the Local 1000 labor contract includes the following for rank-and-file employees:

  • Two day-per month Personal Leave Program (PLP) reducing compensation by 9.23% and providing 16 hours of leave credit per month for two years
  • Suspending employee payments to pre-fund retiree health care for two years; employees will not pay this contribution which would otherwise increase to 3.5% effective July 1, 2020
  • All employees will receive $260 per month to offset health care costs
  • Defers the 2.5% July 1, 2020 general salary increase for two years (the 2% increase scheduled for July 1, 2021 is not impacted)
  • Special Salary Adjustments (generally 5%) for 176 classifications of employees will still be paid effective July 1, 2020
  • If federal money is received and/or state budget revenue allows, the cuts and deferrals could end early

Under the PLP, employees work their full schedules. The reductions do not change salary ranges and do not impact benefits or retirement calculations. PLP credits do not count toward the vacation/annual leave cap and need to be used before other paid leave, except sick leave.

With the $260 per month and suspension of the retiree health contribution, the PLP reductions of 9.23% will be significantly mitigated for most employees. Some employees receiving special salary adjustments will still see small increases in their paychecks despite the PLP reductions.

What This Means for Excluded Employees

The Administration has made clear it intends to tie excluded employees to their related bargaining units in achieving salary savings. It is expected that other bargaining units will reach agreements for two-days of PLP, offset in part by suspending the employee contribution to pre-fund retiree health care.

CCPOA representing Bargaining Unit 6 (correctional officers) agreed to a one-day PLP and to different compensation reductions including holiday pay reductions and suspension of night and weekend shift differentials. It is not likely that other units will be able to find enough cost savings to meet the required reductions to avoid a second day of PLP.

ACSS has pushed for any compensation cuts for excluded employees to be offset in part by suspending the pre-funding of retiree health care. ACSS has also made clear to CalHR that the $260 per month health care affordability payment and the special salary adjustments must also be provided to all related excluded employees to avoid salary compaction issues.

With the SEIU Local 1000 Side Letter tentative agreement, we have reached out to CalHR to reiterate these requests and to also ensure that a fair package is in place for excluded employees not directly related to a bargaining unit. Should any rank-and-file unit not reach agreement and instead allow salary reductions to be imposed, ACSS will work to ensure that the reductions for related excluded employees are equitable.

As bills approving agreements reached by rank-and-file organizations are presented to the Legislature for approval, ACSS will continue its aggressive advocacy in protecting the employment interests of excluded employees. ACSS will also keep you informed with the latest information regarding your salaries and benefits.


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CDPH Releases Guidance Requiring Californians to Wear Face Coverings

Posted: 6/18/2020 Tags: COVID-19 legislation policy representation Tags Views: 1628

The California Department of Public Health today released an updated guidance that requires Californians to wear a face covering in high-risk settings. A growing body of scientific research has shown that people with no or few symptoms of COVID-19 can still spread the disease and that the use of face coverings, combined with physical distancing and frequent hand washing, will reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Governor Gavin Newsom said, “We are seeing too many people with faces uncovered – putting at risk the real progress we have made in fighting the disease. Science shows that face coverings and masks work. They are critical to keeping those who are around you safe, keeping businesses open and restarting our economy.”

Today's guidance mandates the use of cloth face coverings by the general public statewide when outside the home, with limited exceptions. The guidance outlines scenarios in which wearing a face covering is required and also outlines those who are exempt from wearing a face covering.

More information about the state's COVID-19 guidance is on the California Department of Public Health's Guidance web page.

More information about reopening California and what individuals can do to prevent the spread of COVID-19, visit Coronavirus (COVID-19) in California.


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Excluded Employee Compensation Questions Remain Even as the Legislature Prepares to Pass a State Budget

Posted: 6/11/2020 Tags: bargaining legislation policy representation salary Tags Views: 3950

The State Budget continues to evolve as the Legislature and Governor continue negotiations, which include the details of possible pay raises along with reductions in state employee compensation.

With a legislative rule that bills must be in print for 72 hours, the Legislature on June 10, 2020 released the latest version of the State Budget in Senate Bill 808. The Legislature is expected to pass this version of the State Budget with votes on the June 15 constitutional deadline. What it means for excluded employee compensation is far from clear, and additional legislative action impacting state employee compensation outside the main State Budget bill remains likley.

Senate Bill 808 includes funding for the previously planned July 1, 2020 excluded employee salary increases and funding for raises included in bargaining unit labor contracts. While this is potentially good news, the possibility remains that the Governor could use his budget authority to remove this funding from the State Budget and not provide those July 1, 2020 pay raises to excluded employees.

With Senate Bill 808, the Legislature also expects that employee compensation will be reduced by approximately ten percent, to be achieved through collective bargaining and reductions for excluded employees. If those compensation decreases and savings are not in place by July 1, 2020, the Legislature “expects to pursue alternative legislative options” to authorize those reductions, presumably through a personal leave program or furloughs for excluded employees.

Also of concern, if additional federal funding is not obtained by September 1, 2020, trigger language may authorize additional employee compensation reductions beginning October 1, 2020. The details and intent of this language are uncertain.

With this framework, a lot will depend on collective bargaining and agreements to reduce compensation and the Governor’s action regarding the possible July 1, 2020 general salary increases and special salary adjustments.

ACSS’ legislative advocates and legal team are continuing to advocate for the interests of excluded employees. As “budget trailer bills” and bills approving any agreements reached by rank-and-file organizations are presented to the legislature for approval and funding, ACSS will continue its aggressive advocacy for excluded employees. While we await more clarity from the adoption of the final State Budget and any impacts from collective bargaining, ACSS will also continue advocacy with CalHR over salaries and the details of any temporary reductions to excluded employee compensation.


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