If you work in California, be sure you work in “public safety”, at least according to an article in yesterday’s Sacramento Bee. Actually, before long all of us may be working in public safety positions — just to get the lucrative retirement benefits!
In the 1960s, only about one in 20 state workers received enhanced retirements for their role in keeping the peace. Today, it’s close to one in three. The state paid out $587 million for the public safety categories in 2001-02, the most recent year statistics are available. That’s nearly as much as it paid that year for the 230,000 workers not involved in public safety.
Any California firefighter or police officer who comes down with syphilis can claim an industrial disability retirement. The same goes for HIV – or mad cow disease. Since 2001, such blood-borne diseases are among the disabilities presumed to be work-related for various safety employees in California. Under the Labor Code, these workers needn’t prove they were exposed to tainted blood on the job – the presumption is enough. Once a presumption is in play, the burden of proof shifts from the employee to the employer, who must prove that the injury or illness was not caused by the job.