Updated: Mar 16
What's New In California's Labor Laws? Find A California Employment Lawyer To Help You
In 2020, Governor Gavin Newsom of California signed multiple laws affecting employers in California. The new California labor laws, some of which were signed into law only weeks ago, cover various issues, including sick leave, job classification, job leave, benefits for jobs, implementation of safety rules, salaries, and unemployment insurance.
All California-based employers should be aware of these new laws, consider how these laws will impact their practices, and work with attorneys to resolve any enforcement issues. In Assembly Bill (AB) or Senate Bill (SB), each new legislation's effective date is indicated.
So, let's discuss what you need to know about the new California Labor And Employment Laws and how they'll affect you, your California Employment Attorney, and the California Employment Lawyers Association.
AB 685 (Effective Jan. 1, 2022)
Note Commitments for COVID-19 Occupational Exposures and Cal / OSHA Compliance Adjustments
In the event of a COVID-19 virus positive test results in the workplace, AB 685 prescribes notification standards for employees, strengthens reporting requirements to local health authorities in the event of a COVID-19 outbreak, and extends the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal / OSHA) authority to shut down work sites considered to be an "imminent danger" due to COVID-19 and issue "significant breach."
Under AB 685, California employers who are informed of possible exposure to COVID-19 must, within one business day, do the following:
Provide written notice during the infectious timeframe that they might have been exposed to COVID-19 to all employees and employers of subcontracted employees on the premises at the same worksite as the "qualifying individual "2.
Provide written notice, if any, to the exclusive representative (union) of the above workers.
Provide details about COVID-19-related benefits to which they may be entitled, including but not limited to worker compensation, COVID-19-related leave, and paid sick leave, as well as the anti-discrimination and anti-retaliation policies of the employer, to all workers who may have been exposed and their sole representative, if any.
Provide notice of the disinfection and safety plan that the employer plans to enforce and complete, according to CDC guidelines, to all workers, the employers of subcontracted workers, and the exclusive delegate, if any.
The written notice given to employees can include, but is not limited to, a personal service, email, or text message, provided that it can reasonably be expected to be obtained by the employee within one business day of dispatch and is understood by the majority of the employees in both English and the language.
As established by the CA Department of Public Health, AB 685 also imposes reporting requirements on employers notified of a COVID-19 outbreak. Employers must inform the local public health department in the jurisdiction of the worksite, within 48 hours of learning of the outbreak, of the names, number, occupation, and worksite of qualified individuals, as well as the business address of the employer and the NAICS code of the worksite where the qualified individuals worked. After disclosing an outbreak, the employer must continue to give notice of any subsequent laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19 at the worksite to the local health department.
The new law also adds a provision to the Labor Code that explicitly specifies that Cal / OSHA can shut down or ban operations at a worksite when a worksite or activity "exposes staff to the risk of infection" of COVID-19 in the opinion of Cal / OSHA in order to constitute an imminent threat. Furthermore, it removes the obligation that Cal / OSHA sends its Notice of Intent (1BY) to the employer to issue a "serious breach" citation for hazards associated with COVID-19. This means that before a summons can be given, employers don't have a "15-day window" anymore to respond to the notice with proof to support their defense. On Jan. 1, 2023, this clause of the bill will expire.
This bill amends the Labor Code, sections 6325 and 6432, and extends the Labor Code to section 6409.6.
AB 736-Technical Exemption Extension (Effective Sept. 9, 2020)
Under the Industrial Wage Commission (IWC) Wage Order Nos. 4-2001 and 5-2001, AB 736 extends the professional exemption to include part-time, or 'adjunct,' faculty in California's private, non-profit colleges and universities. By inserting Section 515.7, which states that an employee offering training for a course or laboratory in an independent higher education institution, as specified in the Education Code, is listed as exempt under the exemption if the employee meets both the duties and the salary test, the legislation amends the Labor Code.
In order to fulfill the task exam, the worker must be specifically engaged in an occupation that is generally known as a learned or creative career and must exercise independence and critical judgment on the performance of his / her duties on a frequent and regular basis.
The employee must be compensated on a salary basis in order to comply with the salary test and earn a monthly salary equal to no less than twice the state minimum wage for jobs in which the employee is working for a minimum of 40 hours a week. Alternatively, when employed per course or laboratory, for all classroom or laboratory time, planning, grading, office hours, and other course or laboratory-related jobs, the faculty member must earn at least the following sums per hour: $117 in 2021; $126 in 2021; $135 in 2022; and a percentage increase in 2023 and any year thereafter that is equivalent to the percentage increase in the state Employees must be paid individually on behalf of the company for non-course-related jobs, which does not impact the classification of the employee as an excluded employee. Finally, when working under a collective bargaining agreement (CBA), the faculty member must be charged under the CBA if, in simple and unambiguous terms, the classification of employment in a professional capacity is expressly included in the CBA.
This bill adds the Labor Code to Section 515.7.
AB 979-Appointment of Directors on Corporate Boards from Underrepresented Groups (Effective Sept. 30, 2020)
AB 979 complements SB 826, passed in 2018, which required that at least one female director be put on its board by Dec. 31, 2019, in California by any publicly owned company whose principal executive offices (according to the SEC 10-K form of the company) are in California. By Dec. 31, 2021, SB 826 also implemented minimum seat criteria that must be met by women relative to the total number of seats. Specifically, by Dec. 31, 2021, under SB 826, any California-based publicly-owned corporation with six or more directors on it board must have at least three female members on its board; if the number of directors is five, at least two must be female; and if the number of directors is four or less, at least one female director must be in the company.
No later than Dec. 31, 2021, AB 979 requires any publicly owned domestic or international company whose main executive office is located in California to have at least one director from an underrepresented group and, by Dec. 31, 2022 calendar year, any publicly owned company based in California with more than four directors but less than nine to have at least two directors A 'director from an under-represented group' means a person who identifies himself as African American, Hispanic, Asian, Pacific Islander, Native American, Hawaiian, or Alaska Native, or who identifies himself as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender under the new legislation.
Any business in California that does not comply with these provisions will face substantial financial penalties consistent with the penalties previously levied under SB826, including a $100,000 penalty for failure to file board member details in a timely manner with the Secretary of State under regulations to be adopted; a $100,000 penalty for the first violation of the new law; and a $300,000 penalty for the first violation of the new law;
The bill amends Section 301.3 of the Corporate Code and adds Sections 301.4 and 2115.6 to it.
AB 1281, Revisions and Regulations of the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) (Effective Sept. 29, 2020)
AB1281, which amended Section 1798.145 of the Civil Code and was authorized by Governor Newsom on Sept. 29, 2020, expands the exemptions under the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) for personal information obtained and exchanged by Dec. 31, 2021, if the California Privacy Rights and Enforcement Act (CPRA) is on Nov. 3, 2021, in the jobs and business-to-business sense. Otherwise, the two exemptions will sunset at the end of 2020. Businesses are now assured that these two exemptions will continue for another year, at least.
Furthermore, on Aug. 14, 2020, the California Attorney General announced that the CCPA implementing regulations had been approved and certified by the state of California Office of Administrative Law (OAL), which became effective immediately. Most of the improvements were grammar and continuity adjustments, but our prior warning addresses five slight updates, not unique to the job context.
AB 1512 (Effective Sept. 30, 2020) Mandatory On-Duty Rest Breaks for Unionized Security Officers
AB 1512 requires employers to mandate their unionized security officers to take on-duty rest breaks: i.e., stay on-site during rest breaks, stay on-call during rest breaks; and during rest breaks, bring and track a communication device. The Legislature recognized in enacting AB 1512 that security officers must be able to respond to emergency situations without delay and, where appropriate, call for assistance from police, fire, or ambulance services.
Employers may enforce this rule only if the collective bargaining agreement specifically provides for the wages of workers, working hours, working conditions, rest times, final and binding arbitration of disputes relating to the enforcement of the provisions relating to the rest of the period, premium wage rates for all overtime hours worked and a daily hourly rate of pay of not less than one dollar more than the minimum state wage.
Under the new rule, if the on-duty rest period of a security officer is disrupted (i.e., the corporate officer is called upon to return to performing the active duties of his role before completing the rest period), the officer must be required to resume the rest period as soon as possible. A rest time is not disrupted simply because a radio or other communication system must remain on the premises, stay on call and warn, and/or track the officer. If an officer is not allowed to take an uninterrupted rest time of at least 10 minutes for every 4 hours worked or a substantial fraction thereof, an additional one hour of pay shall be charged to the security officer at the normal base hourly rate.
This bill amends Labor Code Section 226.7.
AB 1731 (Effective Sept. 28, 2020) Unemployment Benefits and Work-sharing Arrangements
AB 1731 provides an alternate, expedited mechanism by which employers can apply to the work-sharing program in California and participate. Previously, if they worked less than their normal weekly hours as a result of the employer's involvement in a work-sharing scheme that met stated criteria and had been approved by the Director of Workforce Growth, workers were eligible for unemployment benefits. Employers who decided to participate in a work-sharing program were required to submit a signed, written application form for the work-sharing plan to the director, which met the stated criteria.
AB 1731 requires the director to approve an application for participation in, or renewed participation in, the electronically submitted work-sharing program and requires the Department of Workforce Development (EDD) to create a platform for the provision and reception of such applications on its internet website. In addition, for work-sharing contract proposals submitted by qualified employers between Sept. 15, 2020, and Sept. 1, 2023, the new legislation mandates that they be considered acceptable for one year upon approval by the director unless the employer demands a shorter contract and the director approves it.
The new legislation also requires the EDD to send a claim packet for each participating employee to eligible employers within five business days of the approval of the application and to make online claim forms accessible to the approved employer for each participating employee within five business days of the approval of the application if the employer submitted its online application for a work-sharing agreement Upon fulfillment of the documentation in the claim kit, the EDD must, in compliance with the relevant criteria, create an unemployment insurance claim. The new legislation requires participating employers and workers, among other items, to comply with the mandatory unemployment insurance claim filing and weekly certification standards.
This bill amends Section 1279.5 of the Unemployment Insurance Code and adds Section 1279.6 and Section 1279.7 to it.
AB 1867-Supplemental Paid Sick Leave; Handwashing; Mediation for Family Leave (Sept. 9, 2020 effective)
AB 1867 contains three unrelated laws in one bill: expanded paid sick days for businesses with 500 or more employees nationwide, handwashing provisions for food workers working in any food facility, and the California Equal Jobs and Housing Act (FEHA) mediation pilot program for small employer family days.
Supplemental Paid Sick Leave: This bill codifies the California Governor's Executive Order N-51-20 (signed Apr. 16, 2020), which, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic (COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave), granted additional paid sick benefits to food sector workers for a company with 500 or more employees nationwide. This bill also expands COVID-19 Supplementary Paid Sick Leave to workers in the non-food sector in such a way that all workers who leave their homes or place of residence to work and who work for companies with 500 or more employees nationally must be given sick leave. In addition, under the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), COVID-19 Supplementary Paid Sick Leave is also available to health care workers and emergency responders who have not been given paid sick leave by their employers.
In order for a California employee to qualify for COVID-19 Supplementary Paid Sick Leave, the employee must be unable to function for one of the following reasons: the employee is subject to a Federal, Califor