Current law generally requires a recipient of CalWORKs benefits to participate in welfareto-work activities as a condition of eligibility for aid. Current 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.
AAP Positional Letter
March 22, 2018
The Honorable Scott D. Wiener
Chair, Senate Human Services Committee
Legislative Office Building, 1020 N Street, Room 521
Sacramento, CA 95814
RE: SB 926 (Skinner) CalWORKs: worker rights information
AAP-CA Position: Support
Dear Chair Wiener,
The American Academy of Pediatrics, California (AAP-CA), representing over 5,000 California pediatricians, supports SB 926 (Skinner), which protects CalWORKs and/or CalFresh program participants from undue financial penalties for “voluntarily” leaving a job or reducing their hours because their employee rights were violated. This bill also ensures that program participants are informed about their employment and workplace rights.
CalWORKs and CalFresh participation requires individuals to meet specified work-hour minimums. If the individual does not meet these work minimums, they can be subject to penalties including full suspension of their benefits. As a result, CalWORKs and CalFresh participants can feel compelled to remain in unsafe, unreasonable, or unlawful work environments to preserve their program eligibility.
Under current state law, counties are not required to exempt CalWORKs or CalFresh participants from these sanctions if a participant leaves their job because their employee rights were violated. There is also no requirement for counties to educate CalWORKs and CalFresh participants about their worker rights when employment rights are violated. Too often, workers are unaware of their employee rights and that there are administrative remedies when their workplace rights are violated. Even when remedies for workplace violations are available, low income workers often do not pursue these remedies due to fear of retaliation, termination, or losing their CalWORKs and/or CalFresh status if they leave their job.
SB 926 (Skinner) protects low-income workers who are CalWORKs and/or CalFresh participants by ensuring they are aware of their employee rights such as new parent leave, wage theft prevention, and not being subject to sexual harassment. SB 926 (Skinner) also eliminates financial and other penalties currently in place if a CalWORKs and/or CalFresh participant leaves a job due to a violation of their rights or unlawful workplace conditions.
Pediatricians across the state urge you to vote AYE on SB 926 (Skinner). Thank you for your public service and leadership on behalf of the health and wellbeing of children, youth, and families in California.
Suzanne Higgins Stewart, MD
Resident Representative Member, AAP-CA State Government Affairs Committee
American Academy of Pediatrics, California
cc: Senate Human Services Committee Members
Office of Honorable Nancy Skinner, California State Senate (Author)
AAP-CA CEO Kris Calvin; Lobbyist Lydia Bourne