Assembly Bill (AB) 1651 adds a new hurdle community college districts must clear before placing an academic employee on paid administrative leave. AB 1651 specifies new requirements for placing academic employees on paid administrative leave, including two days' advance notice of such a placement unless an exception applies. The bill becomes effective January 1, 2018.
Academic employees are individuals employed by a community college district in academic positions that require minimum qualifications.
Under existing law, community college districts generally have discretion to place an academic employee on paid administrative leave without advance notice. AB 1651 adds Education Code section 87623, which requires community college districts to notify academic employees in writing about the general nature of the allegations of misconduct at least two business days before placing them on paid administrative leave. This requirement will not apply if there is a "serious risk of physical danger or other necessity arising from the specific allegations." If this limited exception applies, then the employer may immediately place the employee on paid administrative leave. Within five business days of placing an academic employee on paid administrative leave without advance notice, the community college district must notify the employee of the general nature of the allegations made against him or her.
This new law also addresses time limits for completing an investigation into alleged misconduct and for initiating disciplinary proceedings. AB 1651 provides that a community college district should complete its investigation and initiate disciplinary proceedings or reinstate the employee within 90 days of placing the employee on paid administrative leave. Because the statute uses the word "should" instead of "shall," this appears to be a recommendation as opposed to a mandatory time limit. However, AB 1651 allows the California Community Colleges' Board of Governors to specify by regulation a required amount of time in which a community college district is expected to comply with investigating and initiating disciplinary proceedings. This means that a required time limit for complying with this portion may be forthcoming.
AB 1651 also makes clear that its requirements do not supersede the rights of labor organizations or employees under the Educational Employment Relations Act.
If you have any questions about AB 1651 or its impact on the paid administrative leave process, please contact the authors of this Client News Brief or an attorney in our Community Colleges Practice Group
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