Special Wage Loss Payments for Peace Officers, State Employees, and Teachers

Special Wage Loss Payments for Peace Officers, State Employees, and Teachers
Marc S. Wiesner

As my partner Marc S. Wiesner outlined in a prior post, time missed at work due to a workplace injury is compensated by a benefit called Temporary Disability. Per California Labor Code §4653, this in generally calculated at 2/3rds of the injured workers Average Weekly Wage. However, certain employees in the State of California are entitled to an increased wage loss benefit.

Most law enforcement officers (e.g. including sheriff’s deputies, highway patrol, corrections officers, police officers, investigators), firefighters in the State of California are entitled to Labor Code § 4850 (“LC 4850”) pay. Whereas, state employees and teachers in the State Teachers’ Retirement System (STRS) are entitled to Industrial Disability Leave (“IDL”) when they are injured at work. While both 4850 time and IDL replace the first year of temporary disability, there are some key differences between the two systems.

First and foremost is the amount payable to the injured worker. Employees covered by LC 4850 are entitled to, “a leave of absence . . . without loss of salary in lieu of temporary disability.” Meaning, an injured deputy sheriff or county probation officer should receive their full pay when off work due to an industrial injury. Additionally, as this is statutory wage replacement benefit and not a wage, taxes are not normally withheld from these payments.* Finally, unlike Temporary Disability, LC 4850 pay may be available to qualifying injured workers even after being made Permanent and Stationary).

Instead of being governed by the Labor Code, IDL is governed by the California Government Code. In accordance with Government Code § 19871(a), “a state officer or employee . . . shall become entitled . . . to receive industrial disability leave . . . for a period not exceeding 52 weeks within two years” of their injury. Further, for the first twenty-two (22) working days, “payments shall be in the amount of the employees full pay less” applicable tax withholding.* Thereafter, payments are calculated at the same rate as temporary disability. Additionally, state employees may choose to use “annual leave, vacation, sick leave, or compensatory time off (CTO) in an amount necessary to approximate the employee’s full net pay.” There are also exceptions to these rules for victims of violent acts.

Given that LC 4850 pay is governed by the Labor Code and IDL is governed by the Government Code, is has been previously held that Work Comp judges do not have jurisdiction over IDL disputes. See, generally, Blankenship v. WCAB (1986) 51 Cal. Comp. Cases 38, 39. This can make it more difficult to adjudicate an IDL dispute than a LC 4850 dispute.

If you believe that you are entitled to increased compensation due to your work injury, call the Attorneys at Wiesner English P.C. for a free consultation! We have years of experience handling hundreds of cases involving peace officers and state employees.

*Nothing in this post shall be constructed as tax advice. The attorneys at Wiesner English, P.C. are not tax attorneys and one should consider consulting a tax professional for any tax questions related to benefits discussed this article or any other source of income.

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