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jerrybrownprisons.jpgGov. Jerry Brown vetoed legislation Sunday that would have granted state employees a better chance of being reinstated if they are fired for being absent without leave.

Existing California law allows state workers to be AWOL for five days without explanation before they can be terminated, but they can be reinstated if they explain to an administrative law judge why they were absent and failed to get leave.

Assembly Bill 855, by Assemblywoman Cheryl Brown, D-San Bernardino, would have required the California Department of Human Resources to reinstate an AWOL employee if he or she was terminated before being absent for five days.

"This bill seeks to remedy the rare circumstance when the state misapplies the absent without leave statute, forcing both the state and the employee to go to court to resolve the dispute," the Democratic governor said in his veto message. "In these cases, both the state and the employee incur both delay and significant expenses. This does not make sense."

Brown said he is directing his administration to reinstate employees in the "limited instances" in which an employee has been improperly dismissed" under the AWOL statute.

The bill was backed by Service Employees International Union Local 1000. Proponents argued it would strengthen due process rights for state employees. Republicans and a handful of Democratic lawmakers opposed the measure, which critics called an excessive benefit for state workers.

PHOTO: Gov. Jerry Brown speaks to reporters at a news conference at the Capitol on Sept. 9, 2013. The Sacramento Bee/Hector Amezcua


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