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New Employment Laws in 2021

| Dec 31, 2020 | Covid-19, Employment Law, Wage & Hour Laws |

Happy New Year! We at Duggan McHugh Law Corporation (DMLC) want to wish you a happy and healthy 2021, and best wishes for a great and profitable year ahead. As 2020 comes to an end, employers will need to be aware of the changing employment laws that will be in effect in 2021.

2021 brings with it many new laws affecting California employers. Our full summary of these laws is available here. We encourage all of our clients to read the full summary as it includes key details related to the following:

WAGE AND HOUR ISSUES

There are several wage and hour changes taking effect in 2021, including:

  • A minimum wage increase for all employees, and a minimum salary threshold increase for exempt employees;
  • The passage of AB 2257, which modifies and adds to a number of exemptions established by AB 5, and determines whether workers may be classified as independent contractors;
  • Case law updates regarding the injunction of AB 5 and the ABC test with regard to the trucking industry;
  • The passage of Proposition 22 which enacts the new Protected App-Based Drivers and Services Act;
  • AB 1512 relates to security officers and rest breaks;
  • AB 2479 which relates to rest breaks for petroleum workers; and
  • AB 2231 brings clarifications related to when construction projects should be classified as “public works” projects.

Read a detailed overview of these changes to wage and hour laws here.

COVID-19 RELATED LEGISLATION

There has been an abundance of new COVID-19 legislation which is pertinent to California employers in 2021, including:

  • SB 1159 established workers’ compensation presumptions related to COVID-19;
  • AB 685 was passed related to COVID-19 notice and reporting requirements as well as changes to Cal-OSHA’s pre-citation requirements;
  • AB 1867 was passed related to Supplemental Paid Sick Leave and COVID-19;
  • Federal legislative updates regarding the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA); and
  • AB 2537 was passed related to personal protective equipment (PPE) and health care workers

Read more on COVID-19 legislation relevant to California employers here.

HARASSMENT, DISCRIMINATION, AND RETALIATION

Employers will find details on the following harassment, discrimination, and retaliation issues in our full summary:

  • The deadline to complete the initial sexual harassment prevention training to be compliant with SB 1825 is January 1, 2021;
  • AB 1947 extends the time people may file retaliation complaints with the Labor Commissioner. AB 1947 also amends California’s “whistleblower” statute;
  • AB 979 provides new diversity requirements for the board of directors of publicly held domestic or foreign corporations headquartered in California;
  • AB 3364 clarifies language in the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) related to the military and veteran protected classes;
  • SB 973 grants the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) authority to handle claims related to discriminatory wage rates. This bill also provides new mandates related to annual pay data reports.

Read more on 2021 updates to harassment, discrimination, and retaliation issues here.

PRIVACY RIGHTS

AB 1281 was passed which extends exemptions related to the maintenance of employee information under the California Consumer Privacy Act to January 1, 2022. Read more about these exemptions here.

LEAVES OF ABSENCE

Significant updates related to leaves of absence in the workplace have been enacted, including the following:

  • Perhaps the most significant employment legislation passed in 2020 was SB 1383, which expands the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) to apply to employers with five or more employees. SB 1383 made substantive changes to the CFRA affecting larger employers also covered by the FMLA. SB 1383 also repealed the New Parent Leave Act (NPLA).
  • AB 1867 requires the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) to create a small employer family mediation pilot program for employers with between 5-19 employees for violations of the CFRA;
  • AB 2992 expands existing leaves of absence entitlements required for victims of crime or abuse;
  • AB 2017 makes a minor change to existing “kin care” policies relating to the designation of paid sick leave for kin care.
  • AB 2399 makes some technical and clarifying amendments to California’s Paid Family Leave related to active-duty military.

Read a detailed overview of the changes related to leaves of absence laws here.

EMPLOYMENT AGREEMENTS

Employers will find details related to the following updates on employment agreement legislation in our full summary:

  • AB 2143 clarifies requirements and exemptions related to the “no-rehire” provision of Code of Civil Procedure section 1002.5, previously enacted by AB 749; and
  • Case law updates regarding the injunction to AB 51, which relates to mandatory arbitration agreements as a condition of employment.

Read a detailed overview of the changes related to employment agreements here.

MISCELLANEOUS

  • AB 1963 adds new classes of individuals as mandated reporters, including certain human resource employees, under The Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act, and applies to businesses with 5 or more employees. There is also a mandated training and audit component for employees who are mandatory reporters;
  • SB 3075 expands the information corporations must include in the corporation’s statement of information (SOI) filed with the California Secretary of State related to violations of any wage orders or labor code violations. SB 3075 also expands liabilities to a successor of a judgement debtor for any wages, damages, and penalties owed to judgment debtor’s workforce pursuant to a final judgment.

Read more on these miscellaneous updates here.

Again, we encourage all of our clients to read the full summary of the new employment laws that will be in effect in 2021, so that you may be well-equipped to navigate your business towards success in the coming year. Please contact us if you wish to discuss any of the above in more detail.

Here’s to a happy, healthy, and successful 2021!