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November 17, 2020

New California Employment Laws Effective January 1, 2021

Posted by Ann Kwon

To help you stay compliant, here’s a list of the new laws.

employment law

Like most years, 2021 will bring its share of employment-related law changes that California employers should be aware of to stay in compliance. To help you keep track, we’ve listed the new laws below. All take effect January 1, 2021, unless otherwise stated.

SB 1159 (COVID-19 Workers’ Compensation Presumption): Effective immediately, this new law codifies Governor Newsom’s Executive Order N-62-20, which extends the presumption of workers’ compensation coverage for COVID-19 illnesses contracted by certain employees who work outside their home at a specified worksite under certain conditions.

AB 685 (COVID-19 Reporting): This new law requires employers to provide disclosures of exposure of COVID-19 to their employees within one business day after receiving notice there has been potential exposure at their worksite. If the exposure meets the definition of an “outbreak,” employers are obligated to notify their local public health department of this outbreak. In addition, the bill increases the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health’s (Cal/OSHA’s) enforcement authority related to COVID-19.

AB 1867 (Supplemental Paid Sick Leave for COVID-19): Effective immediately, this new law requires private employers with more than 500 employees to provide supplemental paid sick leave for COVID-19 purposes. This law will expire when the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) expires, which is currently set to happen on December 31, 2020.

SB 1383 (CFRA Leave Expanded): This new law expands the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) to cover employers with five employees or more to provide 12 weeks of unpaid leave to employees for covered reasons. In the past, small businesses that had less than 50 employees were not covered by CFRA. These same small businesses with five or more employees are now covered; therefore, small-business owners are strongly encouraged to get up to speed on CFRA requirements. Further, this law expands the definition of covered “family members” beyond what the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) stipulates, so large businesses are encouraged to update their “family members” definitions related to their leave of absence policies.

AB 2992 (Expanded Protections for Victims of Crime): Existing law provides job-protected leave and employment protections for employees who are victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking. With this bill, employees who are victims of other types of crimes are also afforded job-protected leave and employment protections.

AB 2017 (Kin Care Leave Amendment): The existing law for Kin Care (Labor Code 233) has been amended for employees to designate at their “sole discretion” if they will use their sick leave hours for the purposes of kin care or for personal sick care.

AB 2257 (More AB 5 Exemptions): AB 2257 was signed on September 4, 2020, to clarify existing exemptions and to add new ones for the independent contractor classification test.

AB 1947 (Time to File Labor Commissioner Complaints Extended): An individual will now have one year to file a complaint of discrimination or retaliation with the California Labor Commissioner. Prior to the passing of AB 1947, an individual was afforded six months to file a complaint. 

SB 973 (Pay Data Reporting): Private employers that have 100 or more employees will be required to file a pay data report to the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH), containing data on employees’ race, ethnicity and gender in various job categories. The report will need to be filed on or before March 31, 2021.

AB 2143 (Changes to No-Rehire Provisions in Settlement Agreements): AB 2143 makes changes to a new law enacted last year (Code of Civil Procedure 1002.5) that prohibits the inclusion of no-rehire provisions to settlement agreements arising from employment disputes. The change creates an exception permitting a no-rehire provision if the aggrieved party engaged in criminal conduct.

AB 1281 (CCPA): AB 1281 extends employer exemption from certain provisions of the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) to January 1, 2022. Employers must still comply with the CCPA’s requirement to provide notice before, or at the time of, collecting personal information from an applicant or employee that describes each category of information that will be collected and the purposes for which it will be used.

Along with these new law changes in 2021, be aware that the state of California, as well as multiple cities and counties within the state, will have their minimum wage rates increase. So, if you operate in multiple locations, make sure you know the city-by-city minimum wage rates effective January 1, 2021.

Have questions? Armanino’s HR experts are here to help you interpret these laws and mitigate your risk. 

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