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CalHR Implements COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave for 2021

Posted: 4/2/2021 Tags: benefits COVID-19 policy Tags Views: 539

The Department of Human Resources (CalHR) has issued a policy implementing Senate Bill 95 which provides up to 80 hours of COVID-19 related supplemental paid sick leave to all employees retroactive to January 1, 2021. This supplemental sick leave (SB 95 SPSL) is available to employees who are unable to work or telework for any of the following reasons:

  1. The employee is subject to a Federal, State, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19 as defined by an order or guidelines of the State Department of Public Health, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or a local health officer who has jurisdiction over the workplace; or
  2. The employee is advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine or self-isolate due to concerns related to COVID-19; or
  3. The employee is attending an appointment to receive a COVID-19 vaccine; or
  4. The employee is experiencing symptoms related to receiving the COVID-19 vaccine that prevent the employee from being able to work or telework; or
  5. The employee is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and is seeking a medical diagnosis; or
  6. The employee is caring for a family member as defined in the California Labor Code, section 245.5 subdivision (c), who is subject to an order or guidelines under number 1 or 2; or
  7. The employee is caring for a child as defined in the California Labor Code, section 245.5, subdivision (c), whose school or place of care is closed or otherwise unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19 on the premises.

Departments cannot require an employee to use other leave before SB 95 SPSL. If the request is retroactive, an amended timesheet will be required. Substantiation is required for school or child care closures. Departments are expected to issue directions to document SB 95 SPSL as “ATO” on timesheets.

The supplemental leave expires September 30, 2021, except that a covered employee taking SB 95 SPSL at the time of expiration can take the full amount to which they would be entitled.

If you have questions or need assistance with SB 95 SPSL issues, please contact your ACSS Labor Relations Representative.


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Ongoing ACSS Meetings with CalHR Result in Gains, Progress, and Benefits for Members

Posted: 3/26/2021 Tags: benefits compaction COVID-19 legislation policy salary Tags Views: 1106

Throughout the pandemic, ACSS has been meeting regularly with CalHR on a quarterly basis and more frequently, as needed. ACSS has been at the forefront of action, working closely with CalHR and the Newsom Administration by providing proposals on behalf of ACSS Members prior to the rank-and-file bargaining talks leading to the personal leave program and preceding the negotiation of new labor contracts. ACSS has a proven success record and we continue to make progress advocating on behalf of Members during these trying and unprecedented times.

On March 16 and 19, 2021, ACSS met with CalHR Chief of Labor Relations Paul Starkey to continue discussing salary and benefit issues for the State’s excluded employees. These ongoing meetings were agreed to as part of Mr. Starkey and CalHR Director Eraina Ortega’s commitment to ACSS President Todd D’Braunstein to address long-standing salary inequities and other issues affecting supervisory and managerial employees.

Some highlights from the meeting include:

  • CalHR has agreed to adjust salaries for certain supervising Administrative Law Judges retroactive to March 4, 2021. ACSS advocated for these salary adjustments to correct salary compaction with rank-and-file ALJs.
  • CalHR and the California Department of Public Health are reviewing ACSS’ request to realign the excluded employee Health Facilities Evaluator classifications bargaining unit affiliation to reflect the nursing status of all incumbents and to address related salary equity issues.
  • Salaries for the Food Services Supervisor classification will be reviewed to determine whether raises in July 2020 for subordinates created compaction that should be remedied through salary increases for supervisors.
  • CalHR and ACSS reviewed the status of pending ACSS’ proposals for various pay adjustments to correct salary inequities, create a new Peace Officer III classification at the Department of Developmental Services, and to provide state safety retirement for employees in the Nursing Consultant Program Review classification. CalHR’s review of these proposals continues.

ACSS strongly advocated for supervisory and managerial employees to be included among those provided “premium pay” as essential employees in responding to COVID-19. The $1.9 trillion federal American Rescue Plan Act relief package contains funding which may be used to provide “premium pay” to essential employees, not to exceed $13 per hour or $25,000 per worker. The Governor has wide discretion to provide this additional pay to workers he deems eligible. The Administration has indicated it will begin the process of determining eligibility with the “May Revise” to the proposed state budget. ACSS urged CalHR to provide the state supervisors and managers who have maintained the continuity of essential services during the pandemic with this additional pay. ACSS continues to engage in discussions with CalHR on this topic and advocate on behalf of members.

With the state budget situation vastly improved over the projections at the beginning of the pandemic, ACSS and CalHR discussed the likely end of the Personal Leave Program 2020. CalHR will be at the bargaining table with rank-and-file organizations to discuss the possible end of the PLP 2020 program and to negotiate new labor contracts with two bargaining units. Prior to those negotiations, ACSS will provide proposals for related excluded employees, as has been done before each round of bargaining during the Newsom Administration.

ACSS will continue to meet with CalHR on these issues and advocate for excluded employees interests as the state budget process continues.


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CSEA Scholarship Foundation - Application Deadline is April 13!

Posted: 3/4/2021 Tags: benefits Tags Views: 611

CSEA Scholarship Foundation 

Application Deadline is April 13, 2021!

The California State Employees Association Foundation (CSEAF) is a non-profit, charitable corporation created to fund Scholarships and Disaster Grants to CSEA affiliate members, dependents, spouses and grandchildren (ACSS, CSR, CSUEU, SEIU Local 1000 and UAW Local 2350).

Applications and all supporting materials must be postmarked no later than April 13, 2021.

Click here to learn more and to download the Application!


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CalPERS Member Education Webinar - Understanding Your Retirement Benefit Options

Posted: 2/3/2021 Tags: benefits retirement Tags Views: 952

CalPERS Member Education Webinar
Understanding Your Retirement Benefit Options

The retirement payment option you choose is one of the most important decisions you'll make when you retire. We encourage you to join CalPERS for this informative webinar to learn about the different payment options available to you and your beneficiaries.

Date: February 10, 2021
Place: Online
Time: 11:00-11:30 a.m.
Registration: Free

To register, select the Calendar link on CalPERS Member Education page.


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CalHR Orders Most State Offices Closed in Response to the New Stay at Home Order

Posted: 12/4/2020 Tags: benefits COVID-19 legislation policy Tags Views: 1799

On December 3, 2020 California Department of Human Resources (CalHR) Director Eraina Ortega notified state department leadership that effective Monday, December 7, with some exceptions, state offices will close in response to the California Department of Public Health’s new Stay at Home Order. Offices will remain closed for at least three weeks.

Departments must immediately review their Continuity of Operations/Continuity of Government plans and determine which critical functions require staff to continue to report to the workplace. The CalHR direction provides that “all staff not performing critical functions at the workplace should remain at home teleworking, or if no telework is available, provided Administrative Time Off (ATO).”

The “critical functions” of essential government services has not changed and includes:

  • Government Leadership
  • Emergency Management
  • Social Services/Education
  • Information Technology/ Communication
  • Public Safety/Regulatory Enforcement
  • Medical/Health
  • Critical Infrastructure
  • Food Supply
  • Environmental Protection
  • Public Information
  • Unemployment Insurance Claims Processing
  • 24/7 Institutions (prisons, state hospitals, veterans homes, etc.)
  • Essential Government Services

The CalHR instruction includes prioritizing telework for at risk employees (age 65 or older and those with chronic health conditions) and providing telework for all employees eligible for telework. ATO is only provided as a “last resort.” When ATO is approved, it is approved regardless of an employee’s available leave balance.

If you have questions about the new Stay at Home Order and CalHR direction, please contact your ACSS Labor Relations Representative.


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CalHR Suspends Employee Leave Reduction Policies

Posted: 10/21/2020 Tags: benefits policy Tags Views: 2916

On October 20, 2020, CalHR Director Eraina Ortega issued an order to state departments to suspend policies that require leave balances be reduced below the vacation/annual leave cap.  Departments are directed to not require employees to implement leave-reduction plans until the 2020 Personal Leave Program (2020 PLP) ends or July 1, 2022, whichever is sooner.
 
This is welcome news for ACSS members and consistent with ACSS’ requests to CalHR to address the leave-cap for excluded employees during the duration of the 2020 PLP.  With the additional 2020 PLP time off, many excluded employees would have a difficult time meeting leave-reduction plans.  CalHR’s action recognizes this difficulty and gives employees and departments more flexibility to meet critical work demands during the ongoing pandemic. 
 
If you have any questions about leave policies or CalHR’s direction to departments, please contact your ACSS Labor Relations Representative.
 
 
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Open Enrollment for Health, Dental and Vision Begins September 21, 2020

Posted: 9/14/2020 Tags: benefits health policy Tags Views: 1621

Open Enrollment for health, dental and vision coverage starts September 21 and ends October 16. 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, 2021.

Dental and vision premiums remain unchanged, but health premiums are increasing. Basic Health Maintenance Organization health plans will increase by an average of 4.44% while Basic Preferred Provider Organization plans will see an average increase of 8.54%.

The 2021 Consolidated Benefits (CoBen) allowance to be used for health, dental and vision benefits effective January 1, 2021 will decrease slightly to $693 (Single)/$1340 (2-Party)/$1723 (Family). The employer contribution is calculated based on the weighted average premium of the four largest enrolled health plans. Even though health premiums are increasing, because one of the lower cost plans moved into the top four enrolled plans, this results in a slightly lower employer contribution for 2021. The new 2021 CoBen amount for supervisors, managers, and confidential employees is $52 per month higher than the state employer contribution for most rank-and-file employees.

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.

CalHR is expected to update 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 “2021” and “Excluded Employee” before entering your options.

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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Paychecks and a California Supreme Court Pension Ruling

Posted: 7/31/2020 Tags: benefits legislation pension policy representation retirement salary Tags Views: 2589

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: 4842

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 Plan for 2020-2021


The Department of Human Resources (CalHR) has released the outline of the excluded employee pay plan for the 2020-2021 fiscal year. We are pleased that the outline contains most of the items ACSS has advocated for in light of the Administration’s mandated state employee compensation decreases due to the large state budget deficits related to the ongoing pandemic.

The exempt and excluded pay plan effective July 1, 2020 includes:

  • Two day-per month Personal Leave Program (PLP) reducing compensation by 9.23% and providing 16 hours of leave credit per month. The PLP credit will not need to be used in the month it is accrued, but taken before other paid leave (except sick leave).
  • Suspending employee payments to pre-fund retiree health care. The deduction is shown on your pay warrant as “OPEB/CERBT”. The deductions for employees related to units 12 and 13 will continue, but be offset by a pay differential.
  • General Salary Increases are suspended.
  • Special Salary Adjustments and Pay Differentials will be extended to exempt and excluded employees where appropriate.
  • All employees related to the nine SEIU Local 1000 bargaining units (1, 3, 4, 11, 14, 15, 17, 20, and 21) will receive a $260 per month taxable cash benefit to offset health care costs.
  • The Vacation/Annual Leave Cap is increased by the amount of the PLP accrued for excluded employees related to bargaining units 2, 9, 10 and 19.

CalHR is working on pay letters to implement the details of the leave program and special salary and pay differential adjustments. CalHR expects to issue a series of pay letters “in the coming weeks” and has informed ACSS they are working with the State Controller’s Office to try to implement the majority of the salary adjustments in the July pay period.

As the pay letters are developed, ACSS will continue advocacy with CalHR to ensure excluded employees receive all appropriate special salary adjustments and pay differentials and will keep you informed regarding the expected timing of the pay adjustments.


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