AB 237 – Requires Public Employers To Maintain Health Benefits For Striking Employees

CATEGORY: Client Update for Public Agencies, Fire Watch, Law Enforcement Briefing Room, Public Education Matters
CLIENT TYPE: Public Education, Public Employers, Public Safety
DATE: Nov 03, 2021

This bill, also known as the Public Employee Health Protection Act, was enacted to ensure that protected concerted activity by public employees in the form of an authorized strike does not result in loss of health insurance coverage. The bill applies to any public employer that offers health care or other medical coverage to its employees.

Under this new law, covered public employers are required to maintain and pay for continued health benefits for employees engaged in an authorized strike, as well as the employee’s dependents, to the same extent and under the same conditions as if the employee had continued to work during the strike. The law also specifically prohibits employers from threatening to discontinue health benefits for striking employees, or from maintaining a policy that would authorize it. In addition, public employers are required to continue to collect and remit any employee contributions towards those health benefits as normal. The bill does not specify what to do if employees do not, or cannot, make their share of the payment.

For represented employees, the bill defines an authorized strike as one sanctioned by the central labor council or membership of the employee organization that represents the striking employees.

A violation of these restrictions is an unfair labor practice subject to the jurisdiction of the Public Employment Relations Board. As a remedy, the law requires that any premiums, contributions, or out-of-pocket expenses actually paid by the employee as a result of the violation be restored, along with any adjustments necessary to make the employee whole.

(AB 237 adds Sections 3140, 3141, and 3142 to the Government Code.)

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