California Imposes New Compliance Obligations on Employers

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The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in the closure of the California Legislature for long stretches of time this year.  The work of the body continued on, however, and at the end of the session it passed the usual flurry of labor and employment bills and sent them to Governor Newsom.  Now in his second year in office, the governor has had to deal with one crisis after another, including health and safety issues relating to the pandemic, the impact of COVID-19 on the state’s economy and tax revenues, and historic wildfire activity.  Nevertheless, the governor did sign into law approximately 20 new bills that will impact those businesses with operations in the Golden State. 

Here, we very briefly summarize some of the more significant developments applicable to employers operating in California. Unless otherwise indicated, these new laws will take effect on January 1, 2021, leaving employers with little time to prepare. In some cases, links are provided to our publications that provide additional detail and information.  We will also highlight a few bills that fell short. 

COVID-19 in the Workplace

Law

Main Topic

Summary

Effective Date

AB 685

Notification to Employees

Allows the state to track COVID-19 cases in the workplace more closely.  Expands Cal/OSHA’s authority to issue Stop Work Orders for workplaces that pose a risk of an “imminent hazard” relating to COVID-19.  Requires notice in the event of a COVID-19 exposure in the workplace, including providing written notice to “all employees” who were at the worksite within the infectious period who may have been exposed to the virus. See Littler’s ASAP for additional information.

January 1, 2021

AB 1867

Supplemental COVID Sick Leave

Requires up to 80 hours of COVID-related paid leave for workers at “hiring entities” with more than 500 workers.  Applies to contractors of “food sector” businesses.  Includes requirements for recordkeeping and reporting available leaves on wage statements.  See Littler’s Insight for additional information.

September 19, 2020 through December 31, 2020 (unless extended due to FFCRA being extended)

AB 1867

Food Sector Workers – Handwashing

A food employee working in any food facility shall be permitted to wash their hands every 30 minutes and additionally as needed.

September 19, 2020

SB 1159

Workers’ Compensation – Presumption

Creates a “disputable presumption” of workers’ compensation coverage for employee illness or death resulting from COVID-19 on or after July 6, 2020 through January 1, 2023. Claims must be rejected within 30 or 45 days (not the usual 90 days) or the injury is presumed compensable.  Requires specific notice to claims administrators.  See Littler’s ASAP for additional information.

September 17, 2020

AB 2537

Acute Care Hospital PPE Supplies

Acute care hospitals must supply PPE to employees who provide direct patient care, and ensure that employees use PPE.  Beginning April 1, 2021, acute care hospitals must maintain a three-month supply of PPE, and provide an inventory of PPE to the Division of Occupational Safety and Health upon request. 

January 1, 2021 and April 1, 2021

Independent Contractors

Law

Main Topic

Summary

Effective Date

AB 2257

ABC Test, Exceptions

Maintains the ABC test for independent contractor status, but adds 26 new exceptions.  Broadens the “referral agency” exception.  Somewhat clarifies the “business to business” exception.  See Littler’s Report for additional information.

September 4, 2020

AB 323

Newspaper Carriers – One-Year Exception

Extends for one year the exception from the ABC test for newspaper carriers.  See Littler’s ASAP for additional information.

January 1, 2021

Leaves of Absence

Law

Main Topic

Summary

Effective Date

AB 1867

Supplemental Paid Sick Leave (COVID)

Requires up to 80 hours of COVID-related paid leave for workers at “hiring entities” with more than 500 workers.  Applies to contractors of “food sector” businesses.  Includes requirements for recordkeeping and reporting available leaves on wage statements.  See Littler’s Insight for additional information.

September 4, 2020

AB 1867

Small Employer CFRA mediation

Coinciding with expansion of California Family Rights Act (CFRA) to small employers (SB 1383), creates Department of Fair Employment & Housing (DFEH) “small employer family leave mediation pilot program” for employers with between 5 and 19 employees.

September 4, 2020

AB 2017

Kin Care Leave

Provides that the designation of sick leave taken for kin care shall be made at the sole discretion of the employee.

January 1, 2021

AB 2399

Family Temporary Disability Insurance

Expands Family Temporary Disability Insurance (FTDI) program to include absences due to military service of family member.

January 1, 2021

AB 2992

Victim of Crime Leave

Expands leave for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking to include leave for the victim of any crime that caused physical injury or mental injury with a threat of physical injury.

January 1, 2021

SB 1383

CFRA expansion

Expands CFRA coverage to employers of five or more employees.  Expands categories of family members covered by CFRA leaves.  See Littler’s ASAP for additional information.

January 1, 2021

Wage and Hour

Law

Main Topic

Summary

Effective Date

AB 1512

Security Guards – Rest Breaks

Allows employer to require that security guards covered by collective bargaining agreements, paid at least one dollar more than minimum wage, remain on premises and on call during rest breaks.

January 1, 2021

AB 1947

Statute of Limitations for Wage/Hour Discharge – Discrimination Complaints

Lengthens from six months to one year the statute of limitations for bringing a claim of discharge of discrimination in violation of any law under the jurisdiction of the Labor Commissioner.

January 1, 2021

AB 2231

Public Works

Lowers threshold for qualifying as a public works project for purposes of minimum wage.

January 1, 2021

AB 2588

Health Care Worker Training

Requires acute care hospital to reimburse certain training expenses of employees and job applicants.

January 1, 2021

AB 3075

Report of Wage and Hour Violations

Requires that corporations register with the state information regarding violations of the wage orders or Labor Code.

January 1, 2021

SB 1384

Representation of Financially Disabled Persons in Arbitration

Labor Commissioner will represent financially disabled persons when wage claims are referred to arbitration.

January 1, 2021

Unemployment Insurance – Work Sharing

Law

Main Topic

Summary

Effective Date

AB 1731

Unemployment – Work Sharing

Automates parts of California’s work sharing program.  See Littler’s ASAP for additional information.

January 1, 2021

Equal Employment Opportunity

Law

Main Topic

Summary

Effective Date

AB 979

Corporate Boards – Diversity

Requires that a publicly traded corporation with principal executive office in California appoint members of underrepresented communities to Board of Directors.  See Littler’s Insight for additional information.

January 1, 2021

SB 973

Pay Data Reporting

Requires businesses to report to DFEH pay data, for various categories of employees.  See Littler’s ASAP for additional information.

January 1, 2021

Privacy

Law

Main Topic

Summary

Effective Date

AB 1281

One-Year Exclusion of HR Data from CCPA

Grants another one-year extension of the exclusion of certain Human Resources data from coverage under the California Consumer Privacy Act.  See Littler’s Insight for additional information.

January 1, 2021

Notable Vetoes

Law

Main Topic

Summary

Effective Date

AB 1066

Unemployment – Presumption Of Eligibility

Would have presumed eligibility for UI benefits if employer failed to provide timely paperwork to EDD.

N/A

AB 3053

Process For Unpaid Wages Claims

Would have created an online portal for filing wage claims.

N/A

AB 3216

Right of Recall Following Layoff/Furlough

Would have required that certain employees laid off as a result of public health emergencies to be recalled in reverse order of seniority.

N/A

SB 1102

Notice to H-2 A Employees

Would have required employers of H-2A employees to provide specified notices of public health emergency.

N/A

SB 1257

Household Domestic Workers – Safety Standards

Would have imposed OSHA safety standards on homeowners who employ domestic help.

N/A

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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