California Senate Passes Senator Skinner’s SB 926 to Protect Workplace Rights for CalWORKs and CalFresh Participants

May 30, 2018

California Senate Passes Senator Skinner’s SB 926 to Protect Workplace Rights for CalWORKs and CalFresh Participants

Today, with bipartisan support, the California Senate passed Senator Nancy Skinner’s (D-Berkeley) SB 926, the “Workplace Protection Act,” which would protect participants in CalWORKs and CalFresh programs from losing benefits if they leave a job due to violations of their workplace rights. Skinner’s bill must now pass the Assembly and be signed by Governor Brown to become law.

“The threat of losing benefits has kept some CalWORKS and CalFresh participants in jobs where they’ve experienced sexual harassment, discrimination or other workplace violations,” Skinner said. 

A significant number of California’s low wage workers are eligible for cash and food assistance through state and federal safety-net programs, including the California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKs) program and CalFresh.

CalWORKs and CalFresh participation requires individuals to meet specified work-hour minimums. If a CalWORKs or CalFresh participant quits their job or reduces work hours, even in response to workplace abuse, their benefits can be taken away for months at a time. As a result, participants can feel compelled to remain in unsafe, unreasonable, or unlawful workplaces to preserve their program eligibility.

SB 926 addresses these issues by preserving CalWORKs and CalFresh benefits for participants who “voluntarily” leave a job or reduce their hours in response to a violation of their employee rights. SB 926 also requires county human services agencies to provide participants with information about their employment rights and how to file a complaint if the worker wants to report that their employee rights have been violated.

“In a state as prosperous as California, no one should be forced to choose between going hungry or staying in an inhumane work environment,” said Skinner. “SB 926 will prevent California workers from having to suffer abuse just to keep food on their table or their family housed.”

Senator Nancy Skinner (@NancySkinnerCA) represents the 9th Senate District. She serves as Chair of the Senate Public Safety Committee and the Budget Subcommittee on Corrections, Public Safety and the Judiciary.