Bill Text: CA AB401 | 2021-2022 | Regular Session | Amended


Bill Title: Employment Development Department: language translations.

Spectrum: Moderate Partisan Bill (Democrat 18-4)

Status: (Introduced) 2021-04-15 - From committee: Do pass and re-refer to Com. on APPR. with recommendation: To Consent Calendar. (Ayes 13. Noes 0.) (April 15). Re-referred to Com. on APPR. [AB401 Detail]

Download: California-2021-AB401-Amended.html

Amended  IN  Assembly  April 08, 2021

CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2021–2022 REGULAR SESSION

Assembly Bill
No. 401


Introduced by Assembly Members Chiu, Kalra, Mayes, Petrie-Norris, and Santiago
(Principal coauthor: Assembly Member Wicks)
(Principal coauthor: Senator Wiener)
(Coauthors: Assembly Members Aguiar-Curry, Burke, Carrillo, Chau, Davies, Lackey, Nazarian, Quirk-Silva, Stone, Ting, Valladares, and Villapudua)
(Coauthors: Senators Glazer, Hertzberg, and Umberg)

February 03, 2021


An act to amend Section 316 of the Unemployment Insurance Code, relating to unemployment insurance, and making an appropriation therefor.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


AB 401, as amended, Chiu. Employment Development Department: language translations.
Existing law establishes the Employment Development Department within the Labor and Workforce Development Agency and sets forth its powers and duties, including job creation activities, computation of benefits, and determination of contribution rates and collection of contributions for benefits.
Existing law provides for the payment of unemployment compensation benefits to eligible persons who are unemployed through no fault of their own through a federal-state unemployment insurance program administered by the department. Unemployment compensation benefits are paid from the Unemployment Fund, and the expenses for administering these provisions are paid from the Unemployment Administration Fund, which is continuously appropriated for these purposes. Under existing law, workers are required to pay contributions to the Unemployment Compensation Disability Fund, and those funds are continuously appropriated for the purpose of providing disability benefits and making payment of administrative expenses.
Existing law requires all standard information employee pamphlets provided by the department concerning unemployment and disability insurance programs to be printed in English and the 7 other most commonly used languages among participants in each program. Existing law also requires the department to make the pages on its internet website that provide information regarding applying for, and receiving, unemployment insurance benefits available in the 7 languages, other than English, most commonly used by unemployment insurance applicants and claimants.
This bill would require all standard information employee pamphlets provided by the department concerning unemployment and disability insurance programs to be printed in English and the 30 top written languages other than English used by California residents with limited English proficiency, as provided. The bill would additionally require the department, commencing July 1, 2022, to provide translation by qualified human translators between English and the 30 top written languages other than English used by California residents with limited English proficiency, languages described above, in accordance with certain procedures, for all benefits programs administered by the department, vital documents and notices, and any other communications to a claimant. The bill would require the department, if the claimant’s written language is not within these top languages, to provide the claimant, upon request, with a translated document in their written language within 2 business days of the request and on an ad hoc basis, or to read the document aloud and orally explain the document to the claimant in their preferred language, as prescribed.
This bill would require the department, by July 1, 2022, to undertake development of a community review process for translation of the department’s online application interface, forms, and other documents and communications, to ensure, among other goals, plain language, readability, and cultural appropriateness. The bill would require the community review process to be fully implemented commencing July 1, 2024, and to include user testing and input from members of the public, local government, and community-based organizations.
This bill would require the department to identify a claimant’s language needs at the earliest point of contact and make efforts to, among other things, ensure that each written application for unemployment insurance, disability insurance, paid family leave, or other benefits contains a section asking claimants for their preferred written and spoken language. The bill would require written materials sent by the department to the claimant to be provided in the language indicated by the claimant.
This bill, with respect to the online portals provided via the department’s website, would require the department to develop a mechanism to allow for the selection of spoken language options to be expanded on the portal by a claimant, with the option to indicate a language not provided on the portal’s list and would require materials sent to the claimant to be provided in the claimant’s indicated language.
This bill would require the department to make the pages on its internet website that provide information regarding applying for, and receiving, unemployment insurance benefits, available in all of specified languages. The bill would also require the department to annually publish the total number of applications and claimants for each of the benefit programs administered with specified information, including preferred language. The bill would define related terms, and would include related legislative findings.
Because this bill would authorize the expenditure of funds from the Unemployment Administration Fund, and the Unemployment Compensation Disability Fund, for new purposes, the bill would make an appropriation.
Vote: 2/3   Appropriation: YES   Fiscal Committee: YES   Local Program: NO  

The people of the State of California do enact as follows:


SECTION 1.

 The Legislature finds and declares all of the following:
(a) California has one of the country’s most diverse populations.
(b) According to the 2018–2021 Language Access Plan of the Employment Development Department, more than 200 languages are spoken in California, and more than 7,000,000 limited English proficient (LEP) individuals make California their home.
(c) Language barriers prevent LEP individuals from fully participating in civic life and accessing support services.
(d) As one of the largest government agencies in California, the Employment Development Department (EDD) provides a wide range of services relating to, among others, unemployment insurance, state disability insurance, and workforce investment.
(e) It is the intent of the Legislature, in enacting this legislation, to take steps to ensure that all Californians seeking to access services provided by EDD have access to those services in the languages that they are best able to understand.

SEC. 2.

 Section 316 of the Unemployment Insurance Code is amended to read:

316.
 (a) There shall be maintained within an appropriate division of the department, a bureau, section, or unit relating to education and public instruction for the purpose of informing employers and workers of their rights and responsibilities under this code, and of instructing the public generally concerning its basic purposes, provisions, and operations.
(b) All standard information employee pamphlets concerning unemployment and disability insurance programs shall be printed in English and the seven other most commonly used languages among participants in each program. top 30 written languages as specified in subdivision (e).
(c) Commencing July 1, 2022, the department shall provide translation by specified qualified human translators between English and each of the languages specified in subdivision (e) and as described in this subdivision for all of the following:
(1) The active online interface and paper applications for all benefits programs administered by the department, including any requests for identity verification, whether online or via paper. This shall include any and all online interfaces and paper applications operated or received by third-party vendors that are delegated to perform specific portions of processing, such as identity verification or other examination of claims.
(2) Documents containing vital information information, including, but not limited to, any forms or notices granting or denying benefits, requiring an affirmative action by the claimant, or that gives the claimant the right to request an administrative due process hearing.
(3) Any other written communications to a claimant, including communication through email or text.
(d) Any applicable translated documents described in subdivision (c) shall be transmitted directly to the claimant and available on the department’s internet website.
(e) Translations, as described in subdivision (c), shall be provided in the top 30 written languages other than English used by California residents with limited English proficiency. The top 30 languages shall be determined by examining various data sources, including, but not limited to, the United States Census Bureau, American Community Survey, State Department of Education, other state and local government agencies, feedback from community-based organizations, and the department’s own data tracking measures. The department shall thereafter evaluate and update this list every two years.
(1) If a claimant’s written language is not within the top 30 written languages, upon the claimant’s request, the department shall provide the claimant with a translated document in their written language within two business days of the request. The department shall also provide translations in languages that are not in the top 30 languages determined by this section on an ad hoc basis, if the department finds it necessary to provide meaningful language access.
(2) Upon the claimant’s request, the department shall read the document aloud and orally explain the document to the claimant in their preferred language and, when possible, the appropriate variant to the target language so that the language coincides with the claimant’s preferred language variety.
(f) By July 1, 2022, the department shall undertake development of a community review process for translation of the department’s online application interface, forms and other documents and communications to ensure, among other purposes, plain language, readability, and cultural appropriateness. The community review process shall be fully implemented commencing July 1, 2024. The community review process shall include, but not be limited to, user testing and input from members of the public, local government, and community-based organizations.
(g) The department shall identify a claimant’s language needs at the earliest point of contact with the claimant. The burden of acquiring language services should not fall on a claimant who does not use English as their dominant language, and department staff shall proactively assess the needs for language services through the life of a claim for benefits or services provided to a claimant. These efforts shall include, but are not limited to, all of the following:
(1) Each written application for unemployment insurance, disability insurance, paid family leave, or other benefit provided by the department shall contain a section asking claimants to identify their preferred written and spoken languages. The written materials sent by the department to the claimant shall be provided in the language indicated by the claimant on their written application.
(2) With respect to the online portals provided via the department’s internet website, the department shall develop a mechanism to allow for the selection of spoken and written language options to be expanded on the portal by a claimant, with the option to indicate a language other than those already provided on the portal’s list. The materials sent by the department to the claimant pursuant to the online portal shall be provided to the claimant in the language the claimant has indicated.
(h)  Oral and signed language services, by qualified interpreters or qualified bilingual staff, shall be provided in all languages in real time, and if not possible, within 24 hours of the identified need or request. This includes all department interactions with a clamant, claimant, whether in person or remote. Specifically, the language services shall include, but are not limited to, the following:
(1) Department staff who interact directly with a claimant, in person or remotely, shall have access to the claimant’s identified preferred language as described in subdivision (g) and direct access to the language interpretation options available pursuant to this section.
(2)  Each telephone or video line operator shall offer the claimant telephone or video communication in their preferred signed or spoken language choice, to ensure the claimant has access to needed services. If the telephone or video line operator cannot obtain access to an interpreter in the claimant’s language at the time of the call, the department shall ensure that the claimant receives a return telephone or video call in the claimant’s language in a compatible linguistic variant within 24 hours of the original telephone call to the department.
(3) The department shall use best practices to identify appropriate interpreting services. These include confirming that the interpreter and claimant use a compatible linguistic variant and ensuring that there are no conflicts of interest or concerns about an interpreter’s competency or impartiality. If a claimant rejects the use of a specific interpreter, the department shall find a suitable replacement.
(i) (1) The department shall make the pages on its internet website that provide information regarding applying for, and receiving, unemployment insurance benefits available in the seven languages, other than English, most commonly used by unemployment insurance applicants and claimants.
(2) By July 1, 2022, the department shall make the pages on its internet website that provide information regarding applying for, and receiving, unemployment insurance, disability insurance, and paid family leave benefits available in all of the languages specified in subdivision (e).
(3) The department shall annually publish the total number of applications and claimants for each of the benefit programs administered under this division, including the preferred written and spoken language of the application or claimant. The report shall include information on the number and trend of applications for all of the benefit programs, and description of how applications have been resolved, including processing times, denial rates rates, and the basis for denials.
(j) The provision of language services shall not cause an undue delay in receipt of services or benefits.
(k) For purposes of this section:
(1) “Claimant” means an applicant for or recipient of services provided by the department.
(2) “Interpreting” means using spoken or signed language to transmit a message from one language into another while preserving the meaning, register, and tone of the message.
(3) “Qualified bilingual staff” means a member of the department’s staff who has passed a formal linguistic proficiency assessment in both of their working languages.
(4) “Qualified interpreter” means a person with advanced oral or signing proficiency in their working languages, knowledge of professional practices, and adherence to the interpreter’s code of ethics, who has been determined to be qualified by a formal certifying body such as the California Judicial Council or the Certification Commission for Healthcare Interpreters or based on experience, training, and references.
(5) “Qualified translator” means a person with advanced written proficiency in their working languages, knowledge of professional practices, and adherence to the translator’s code of ethics, who has been determined to be qualified by a formal certifying body such as the American Translators Association or based on experience, training, and references.
(6) “Translation” means using written language to transmit text from one language into another while preserving the meaning, register, and tone of the message.
(l) The provisions, protections, and prohibitions contained in this section shall be in addition to existing state and federal civil rights mandates governing language access and unlawful discrimination based on national origin, ethnic group identification, and linguistic characteristics.

feedback