About 7,000 Payments From New Family Leave Program Delayed
The state's new Paid Family Leave Insurance Program is experiencing processing delays that have contributed to about 7,000 late claim payments since the program began July 1, the Sacramento Bee reports (Payne, Sacramento Bee, 8/16). Under SB 1661, which former Gov. Gray Davis (D) signed into law in 2002, workers who pay into the state disability fund are eligible to receive as much as 55% of their regular pay, up to $728 per week, while they take time off from work to care for a seriously ill relative or a newborn. The cap will be increased to $840 weekly in 2008. The law is funded through payroll deductions of 0.08% that have been in place since January. The program is the first of its kind in the nation (California Healthline, 7/30).
According to Employment Development Department officials, the program has received significantly fewer claims than the projected 300,000 per year. Currently, the department receives 650 claims each day, and the program has processed payments for 7,500 of the 20,500 claims received to date.
About 3,500 payments have been delayed because of errors or incomplete information, and department officials said the rest are late because of understaffing, computer problems and other issues related to launching a new program, the Bee reports.
To resolve the delays, the department is hiring 15 temporary workers in Sacramento, adding 35 workers in Fresno and authorizing overtime for the 100 workers who currently are processing claims. In addition, the department is upgrading its computer system, which "frequently crashes and takes 30 seconds to load a screen," the Bee reports.
"We're working on it day and night," department spokesperson Suzanne Schroeder said (Sacramento Bee, 8/16).