Monday, the Governor signed a bill that significantly expands release time rights under the Meyers-Milias-Brown Act, which governs local public entities’ labor relations. Currently, the MMBA (Gov. Code § 3505.3) provides that an employer must allow a reasonable number of employee representatives paid time off when “formally meeting and conferring with representatives of the public agency on matters within the scope of representation.” Effective January 1, 2014, paid time off rights expand to include testifying or serving as the union representative in a PERB proceeding, as well as testifying or serving as the union representative in a personnel or merit commission hearing. An employee organization must provide notice to the employer within a reasonable time frame prior to the requested leave.
The new provisions do not specify whether leave is allowed for fact-finding impasse resolution procedures recently added to the MMBA (Gov. Code §3505.4). However, because the MMBA “meet and confer” process appears to include applicable impasse resolution procedures (see Gov. Code § 3505), it is reasonable to argue that fact-finding would be covered as part of “meeting and conferring” with the public agency. As is common with amendments to the MMBA, this and other issues will have to be worked out, either through PERB regulations or development of case law.
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