School employees who are injured by another person while at work would receive injury leave under a bill heard Feb. 3 by the Education Committee.
Lincoln Sen. Mike Hilgers, sponsor of LB1186, said teachers who cannot work after being assaulted while on the job currently must use sick or vacation leave for the first seven days that they are absent because that time period is not covered by workers’ compensation benefits. He said his proposal would address that gap.
Under the bill, a school district employee who is physically injured by another person who “intentionally, knowingly or recklessly causes bodily injury” to that employee would receive up to seven days of injury leave and be paid their usual salary for the time they are absent and unable to work as a result of the injury. The employee’s injury must have occurred within their scope of employment in a way that would be covered by the Nebraska Workers’ Compensation Act.
Under the bill, injury leave would not count against any other leave the employee accrues. In determining the applicability of injury leave, a school district could require confirmation from a physician regarding the causation and the period of time for which an employee is unable to work.
LB1186 also would require each school district to report annually to the state Department of Education the number of incidents resulting in injury leave and the total number of injury leave days taken.
Jenni Benson, president of the Nebraska State Education Association, testified in support of the bill, saying she knows of only one Nebraska school district that includes injury leave in its contract with teachers.
Benson recounted an incident in which another district docked a teacher all of her sick and personal leave, as well as her pay, after she missed 28 days of work due to a knee injury caused by a student.
“We believe that no Nebraska teacher or employee should be forced to use personal leave for injuries sustained from an assault while on the job,” she said.
Megan Boldt testified in opposition to LB1186 on behalf of the Nebraska Association of School Boards, saying it would increase school district costs.
“I’m aware of districts that provide the benefits mandated in this bill,” she said, “and we feel school board policy adoption and negotiated agreements are a more appropriate place—rather than in statute—to implement these practices.”
The committee took no immediate action on the bill.