The Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board (WCAB) started the new decade by announcing a significant shift in its final rules of practice and procedure.

While the changes have been kicking around since August 2017, the agency filed the new requirements with the Secretary of State on December 17, published them on December 31, and they went into effect on January 1. The filing included an annotated copy complete with strikethroughs showing what had changed and where in the 268-page document. The final clean copy of the rules has now been added and only takes up 118 pages, making life a bit simpler for the employers attempting to comply with the new regulations.

The reasoning behind this rulemaking is, according to the WCAB, to organize articles to reflect the order of events in a workers’ comp case, eliminate duplicative regulations, break up complex rules, simplify the language for clarity and create some room between procedures to accommodate future changes.  

“In general, the substance of the vast majority of rules has not been altered in this reorganization. Some substantive changes were made to reflect current practices,” according to the press release issued to announce the changes in the workers’ comp program.

Agencies don’t write regulations in a vacuum. The agencies plunge into regulatory change with goals in mind, but they are required to have open, public participation in the process. They document the process in a “Final Statement of Reasons” (FSOR).

The 29-page FSOR WCAB change starts with a 479-word explanation of why they must use politically correct grammar. Here’s a clip from the FSOR on the topic:

Gender-Neutral Language and the Singular ‘They.’ “…we chose in some instances to use the singular they as a genderneutral pronoun where appropriate in keeping with Assembly Concurrent Resolution 260, which encourages state agencies “to use gender-neutral pronouns and avoid the use of gendered pronouns when drafting policies, regulations, and other guidance[.]”

It is essential to pay close attention to this little paragraph because the state is going to inspect your company documents based on compliance with the shift in “gendered pronouns,” among other things.

Make sure your lawyer reads the FSOR and the strikethrough copy that highlights the actual regulatory changes as they help you craft your internal documents in response to the new procedures. You don’t want to run afoul of the WCAB over grammar.

The newly adopted rules and their related Final Statement of Reasons are on WCAB’s website: https://www.dir.ca.gov/wcab/WCABProposedRegulations/Rulemaking-August-2019/Rulemaking-August-2019.htm. 

By Ray Baca Executive Director Email: [email protected]