(a) The Information and Assistance Officer is not bound by technical or formal rules of procedure but may make inquiries into any matter referred to him or her in a manner best suited to protect the rights of all parties and to achieve substantial justice.
(b) When there is a dispute regarding the provision of workers' compensation benefits, the employee, claims administrator or any party may request the Information and Assistance Officer to mediate the dispute. The Information and Assistance Officer will attempt to resolve the dispute by mediation, which may include a conference. The officer shall make appropriate inquiries to determine the contentions of the parties, identify the matters which may prevent amicable resolution, and afford all parties an opportunity to present their positions.
(c) In the event a dispute is not resolved through mediation, the Information and Assistance Officer shall issue a recommendation as soon as possible.
(d) In order to toll the statutes of limitations pursuant to Section 5454 of the Labor Code, the Information and Assistance Officer must notify in writing all parties to any misunderstanding, dispute or controversy of the fact that said Information and Assistance Officer has taken under consideration the misunderstanding, dispute or controversy submitted to him or her for a recommendation.
(e) Upon issuing a recommendation, the Officer shall advise the parties of his or her recommendation in a written communication which describes in non-technical terms the nature of the differences, the proposed resolution and the rationale used in arriving at that resolution. The communication shall also advise the parties that the tolling of any applicable statute of limitations will cease 60 days after the issuance of the recommendation, and shall further advise the parties of their right to obtain a decision from the appeals board if the recommendation is not accepted by the parties. In the event a party does not accept the recommendation of the Information and Assistance Officer, the party must notify all other parties in writing within 30 days of receipt of the recommendation. Where the Information and Assistance Officer feels that further mediation may resolve the dispute, he or she will notify the parties of the availability of the Information and Assistance Officer to provide such further mediation.
NOTE: Authority cited: Sections 133, 139.6, 5307.3, 5451 and 5453, Labor Code. Reference: Sections 5450-5455, Labor Code.
1. Amendment of section heading and subsections (b), (c) and (e) filed 2-16-95; operative 2-16-95. Submitted to OAL for printing only pursuant to Government Code section 11351 (Register 95, No. 7).