Cal Fire Firefighters | Labor Code 4811
Updated: August 12, 2022
This week, the Cal Fire Local 2881 announced an agreement with the State of California for an increased benefit when firefighters are taken off work for a workers’ compensation injury.
New Labor Code 4811
This agreement is expected to be codified by the lawmakers in Sacramento and signed into law by Governor Newsom. If signed into law, it would be Labor Code Section 4811. Labor Code Section 4811 would be like Labor Code Section 4850 that city police, city firefighters, county firefighters, and sheriff deputies enjoy.
Labor Code 4811 (if signed into law) will be applicable to injuries on or after November 1, 2022.
Labor Code 4850
Labor Code 4850 provides full salary in place of temporary disability benefits. We will discuss our experience with Labor Code Section 4850 benefits, so you understand how Labor Code Section 4811 will work moving forward for Cal Fire Firefighters.
In order to explain it, we will talk about what non-safety, non-State injured workers receive which is 2/3 of gross earnings (subject to statutory maximums) for 104 weeks. Those 104 weeks can be used within five years of the date of injury.
Labor Code 4850 benefits provides full salary for 52 weeks and then 52 weeks of temporary disability within five years of the date of injury. There are some key points to understand:
- When you are using the 52 weeks of full salary, you are still accruing time for retirement. Once you go on temporary disability, after 52 weeks, you are not accruing retirement time.
- If you work a light duty time (this is unusual for this class of workers) that is less than your normal hours, you would get paid wage loss. That wage loss does count towards the 52 weeks.
There are exceptions to the 104 week cap within five years for injuries such as burns, insidious diseases, amputations, but we will not get into that here.
Labor Code 4814 and Injuries Before November 1, 2022
As of the time of the writing of this article, the current status for Cal Fire firefighters for injuries that happen before November 1, 2022 is currently what is happening with my current workers’ compensation claims.
The contract states that Cal Fire firefighters will receive IDL for the first 52 weeks using leave time. The cap on that IDL is 52 weeks, so if you don’t use it in 52 weeks, you lose it, so whether you work or not in the first 52 weeks after your injury, it stops at a year. If you compare that to Labor Code Section 4811 (if treated the same by the Courts as Labor Code 4850), the 52 weeks may be used beyond a year and within five years.
Cumulative Trauma Claims and Labor Code 4811
In a couple of weeks, I will write an article on how “wear and tear” injuries (we call them cumulative trauma in the legal sense) and what you need to know when filing them when considering the new Labor Code Section 4811.
Please contact my office before you file a “wear and tear” claim for 2022.