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SB-926 CalWORKs and CalFresh: work requirements.(2017-2018)

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Date Published: 04/13/2018 04:00 AM
SB926:v97#DOCUMENT

Amended  IN  Senate  April 12, 2018
Amended  IN  Senate  April 03, 2018

CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2017–2018 REGULAR SESSION

Senate Bill No. 926


Introduced by Senator Skinner

January 24, 2018


An act to amend Section 11320.31 of, and to add Section 18928 to, the Welfare and Institutions Code, relating to public social services.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


SB 926, as amended, Skinner. CalWORKs and CalFresh: work requirements.
Existing law provides for the California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKs) program, under which each county provides cash assistance and other benefits to qualified low-income families and individuals. Existing law generally requires a recipient of CalWORKs benefits to participate in welfare-to-work activities as a condition of eligibility for aid. Existing law prohibits sanctions from being applied for a failure or refusal to comply with program requirements for, among other reasons, the employment, offer of employment, activity, or other training for employment discriminates on specified bases or involves conditions that are in violation of applicable health and safety standards, or the employment or offer of employment exceeds the daily or weekly hours of work customary to the occupation.
This bill would additionally prohibit sanctions from being applied for a failure or refusal to comply with program requirements if the scheduled hours are, or would be, so unpredictable that they do not allow a participant to anticipate compliance with program requirements. The bill would require the county human services agency, upon notice from the recipient of the occurrence of discrimination or existence of conditions that are in violation of applicable health and safety standards, to inform the recipient on specified rights and remedies. The bill would also prohibit sanctions from being applied if the recipient certifies that the employment or offer of employment fails to comply with the Health Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014, that his or her rights under the New Parent Leave Act, the Wage Theft Prevention Act of 2011, or the Domestic Worker Bill of Rights were violated, or that he or she experienced sexual harassment or other abusive conduct at the workplace. The bill would require the county human services agency, upon notice from the recipient of any of these violations, to inform the recipient of specified rights and remedies. remedies, and would require the State Department of Social Services to convene a workgroup, as specified, to develop instructions for county human services agencies on how to best inform applicants and recipients of aid of those rights and remedies. By increasing the duties of local officials, the bill would impose a state-mandated local program.
Existing federal law provides for the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), known in California as CalFresh, under which supplemental nutrition assistance benefits allocated to the state by the federal government are distributed to eligible individuals by each county. Existing federal law, as a condition of eligibility for CalFresh, requires a household member who is not exempt to comply with specified work requirements, including the requirement that a member does not voluntarily and without good cause quit a job of 30 or more hours a week or reduce work effort less than 30 hours a week. Existing federal law defines “good cause” to include, among other things, circumstances beyond a member’s control, resigning from a job that is unsuitable, and discrimination by an employer based on age, race, sex, color, handicap, religious beliefs, national origin, or political beliefs.
This bill would, to the extent permitted by federal law, regulation, or waiver thereof, require that good cause exists for purposes of the above-mentioned work requirement if an applicant for CalFresh benefits has voluntarily quit a job or reduced work hours based on at least one of the above-mentioned reasons for which welfare-to-work sanctions for a recipient of CalWORKs benefits shall not be applied, or because the scheduled work hours were so unpredictable that they did not allow an applicant or recipient to anticipate the amount of monthly income from the job. The bill would also require the county human services agency to inform the recipient of specified rights and remedies if the applicant or recipient informs the county human services agency that he or she has voluntarily quit a job or reduced work hours for specified reasons. By increasing the duties of local officials, the bill would impose a state-mandated local program.
The bill would require the State Department of Social Services to convene a workgroup, as specified, to develop instructions for county human services agencies on how to best inform applicants and recipients of aid of the above-mentioned rights and remedies. The bill would authorize the department to implement these provisions through an all-county letter or similar instruction from the director, until regulations are adopted on or before October 1, 2020.
Existing law continuously appropriates moneys from the General Fund to defray a portion of county costs under the CalWORKs program.
This bill would provide that the continuous appropriation would not be made for purposes of implementing the bill.
The California Constitution requires the state to reimburse local agencies and school districts for certain costs mandated by the state. Statutory provisions establish procedures for making that reimbursement.
This bill would provide that, if the Commission on State Mandates determines that the bill contains costs mandated by the state, reimbursement for those costs shall be made pursuant to the statutory provisions noted above.
Vote: MAJORITY   Appropriation: NO   Fiscal Committee: YES   Local Program: YES  

The people of the State of California do enact as follows:


SECTION 1.

 The Legislature finds and declares all of the following:
(a) Due to their precarious economic situations, low-income workers frequently have their rights violated.
(b) Low-income workers are often not scheduled enough hours to prevent poverty or to comply with public benefit work requirements.
(c) Low-income Californians should not be forced to seek employment or remain employed at a workplace that violates their basic worker rights.
(d) Low-income Californians should be informed about their worker rights when they seek public benefits or an increase in public benefits due to a loss of job or reduction in hours.

SEC. 2.

 Section 11320.31 of the Welfare and Institutions Code is amended to read:

11320.31.
 (a) Sanctions shall not be applied for a failure or refusal to comply with program requirements for reasons related to employment, an offer of employment, an activity, or other training for employment including, but not limited to, the following reasons:
(1) The employment, offer of employment, activity, or other training for employment discriminates on any basis listed in subdivision (a) of Section 12940 of the Government Code, as those bases are defined in Sections 12926 and 12926.1 of the Government Code, except as otherwise provided in Section 12940 of the Government Code. If the recipient informs the county human services agency that the recipient witnessed or experienced discrimination prohibited under subdivision (a) of Section 12940 of the Government Code, the county human services agency shall inform the recipient of the rights provided under that provision and the remedies provided through the Department of Fair Employment and Housing, as specified in Article 1 (commencing with Section 12960) of Chapter 7 of Part 2.8 of Division 3 of Title 2 of the Government Code.
(2) The employment or offer of employment exceeds the daily or weekly hours of work customary to the occupation, or the scheduled hours are, or would be, so unpredictable that they do not allow a recipient to anticipate compliance with program requirements.
(3) The employment, offer of employment, activity, or other training for employment requires travel to and from the place of employment, activity, or other training and a recipient’s home that exceeds a total of two hours in round-trip time, exclusive of the time necessary to transport family members to a school or place providing care, or, when walking is the only available means of transportation, the round-trip is more than two miles, exclusive of the mileage necessary to accompany family members to a school or a place providing care. A recipient who fails or refuses to comply with the program requirements based on this paragraph shall be required to participate in community service activities pursuant to Section 11322.9.
(4) The employment, offer of employment, activity, or other training for employment involves conditions that are in violation of applicable health and safety standards. If the recipient informs the county human services agency that the recipient witnessed or experienced violations of applicable health and safety standards, the county human services agency shall inform the recipient of the rights and remedies provided under the federal Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (Public Law 91-596).
(5) The employment, offer of employment, or work activity does not provide for workers’ compensation insurance.
(6) Accepting the employment or work activity would cause an interruption in an approved education or job training program in progress that would otherwise lead to employment and sufficient income to be self-supporting, excluding work experience or community service employment as described in subdivisions (d) and (j) of Section 11322.6 and Section 11322.9 or other community work experience assignments, except that a recipient may be required to engage in welfare-to-work activities to the extent necessary to meet the hours of participation required by Section 11322.8.
(7) Accepting the employment, offer of employment, or work activity would cause the recipient to violate the terms of his or her the recipient’s union membership.
(8) The recipient certifies that the employment or offer of employment fails to comply with the Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014 (Article 1 (commencing with Section 245) of Chapter 1 of Part 1 of Division 2 of the Labor Code). If the recipient informs the county human services agency that the employment or offer of employment fails to comply with the act, the county human services agency shall inform the recipient of the rights and remedies provided under the act.
(9) The recipient certifies that the recipient experienced sexual harassment or other abusive conduct at the employment workplace. If the recipient informs the county human services agency that he or she was subject to sexual harassment or abusive conduct in the workplace, the county human services agency shall inform the recipient of the rights and remedies described in the sexual harassment and abusive conduct prevention training and education required pursuant to Section 12950.1 of the Government Code.
(10) The recipient certifies that his or her the recipient’s rights under the New Parent Leave Act (Section 12945.6 of the Government Code) were violated. If the recipient informs the county human services agency that the recipient was subject to a violation of the act, the county human services agency shall inform the recipient of the rights provided under the act and the remedies provided through the Department of Fair Employment and Housing, as specified in Article 1 (commencing with Section 12960) of Chapter 7 of Part 2.8 of Division 3 of Title 2 of the Government Code.
(11) The recipient certifies that his or her the recipient’s rights under the Wage Theft Prevention Act of 2011 were violated. If the recipient informs the county human services agency that the recipient was subject to a violation of the act, the county human services agency shall inform the recipient of the rights and remedies provided under the act.
(12) The recipient certifies that his or her the recipient’s rights under the Domestic Worker Bill of Rights (Part 4.5 (commencing with Section 1450) of Division 2 of the Labor Code) were violated. If the recipient informs the county human services agency that the recipient was subject to a violation of the act, the county human services agency shall inform the recipient of the rights and remedies provided under the act.
(b) If a recipient has received relief from a program sanction pursuant to this section, the recipient shall begin participating in participate in all welfare-to-work activities no later required by the recipient’s welfare-to-work plan, with the exception of employment requirements. This relief shall last no longer than three months from the first date of the failure or refusal to comply with program requirements.
(c) The State Department of Social Services shall convene a workgroup consisting of client advocates, representatives of county human services agencies, worker rights experts, and representatives of county eligibility workers to develop instructions for county human services agencies on how to best inform applicants and recipients of aid of the rights and remedies specified in paragraphs (1), (4), (8), (9), (10), (11), and (12) of subdivision (a) when they have reported a violation of those rights.

SEC. 3.

 Section 18928 is added to the Welfare and Institutions Code, to read:

18928.
 (a)To the extent permitted by federal law, regulation, or waiver thereof, a county shall determine that good cause exists for purposes of the work requirement specified in Section 273.7(a)(1)(vii) of Title 7 of the Code of Federal Regulations if an applicant or recipient has voluntarily quit a job or reduced work hours based on at least one of the reasons enumerated in subdivision (a) of Section 11320.31, or because the scheduled work hours were so unpredictable that they did not allow an applicant or recipient to anticipate the amount of monthly income from the job. If the applicant or recipient informs the county human services agency that the applicant or recipient has voluntarily quit a job or reduced work hours for a reason specified in paragraph (1), (4), (8), (9), (10), (11), or (12) of subdivision (a) of Section 11320.31, the county human services agency shall inform the applicant or recipient of the rights and remedies specified in the applicable paragraph of that section.

(b)If an applicant or recipient has received relief from the work requirement specified in Section 273.7(a)(1)(vii) of Title 7 of the Code of Federal Regulations pursuant to this section, the applicant or recipient shall begin participating in welfare-to-work activities no later than three months from the first date of the failure or refusal to comply with those work requirements.

SEC. 4.

 Notwithstanding the rulemaking provisions of the Administrative Procedure Act (Chapter 3.5 (commencing with Section 11340) of Part 1 of Division 3 of Title 2 of the Government Code), the State Department of Social Services may implement this act through an all-county letter or similar instruction from the director, until regulations are adopted. The department shall adopt regulations implementing this act on or before October 1, 2020. The all-county letter, or similar instruction, or regulation shall provide that an all of the following:
(a) An applicant or recipient of CalFresh or CalWORKs may self-certify under penalty of perjury that the reason the applicant or recipient voluntarily quit a job or reduced work hours qualifies for a good cause exemption exemption, as specified in Section 18928 or 18928.
(b) A recipient of CalWORKs may self-certify under penalty of perjury that the reason the recipient failed or refused to comply with program requirements qualifies for a relief from sanction sanction, as specified in Section 11320.31. The all-county letter, or similar instruction, or regulation shall provide guidance
(c) Guidance on how to provide verification in instances in which more than one request for a good cause exemption or relief from sanction is made.

SEC. 5.

 No appropriation pursuant to Section 15200 of the Welfare and Institutions Code shall be made for purposes of this act.

SEC. 6.

 If the Commission on State Mandates determines that this act contains costs mandated by the state, reimbursement to local agencies and school districts for those costs shall be made pursuant to Part 7 (commencing with Section 17500) of Division 4 of Title 2 of the Government Code.