This coming year we will have a lot of new employment laws that may affect your business. Some of them are just additions to existing laws yet some others are new. Let’s get started:
Intentional wage theft will be punishable as grand theft. “Any employer found to have engaged in the intentional theft of wages, gratuities, benefits, or other compensation, in an amount greater than $950 from any one employee, or $2,350 in the aggregate from 2 or more employees, in any consecutive 12-month period may be convicted of grand theft. These wages, gratuities, benefits, or other compensation that are the subject of a prosecution under these provisions can be recovered as restitution. For the purposes of these provisions, independent contractors are included within the meaning of employee, and hiring entities of independent contractors are included within the meaning of employer.”
In 2019, California restricted non-disclosure provisions in settlement agreements. Those laws limited non-disclosure provisions in settlement agreements for lawsuits and administrative agency charges involving allegations of sexual harassment. They also limited the use of non-disclosure provisions in exchange for a raise or a bonus, or as a condition of employment or continued employment.
SB 331 broadens those restrictions. Now includes any harassment or discrimination (on the basis of race, religious creed, color, national origin, ancestry, physical disability, mental disability, medical condition, genetic information, marital status, sex, gender, gender identity, gender expression, age, sexual orientation, or veteran or military status) and would prohibit an employer from requiring an employee to sign a “non-disparagement agreement or other document to the extent it has the purpose or effect of denying the employee the right to disclose information about those acts.”
This law will make it an unlawful employment practice for an employer or former employer to include in any agreement related to an employee’s separation from employment any provision that prohibits the disclosure of information about unlawful acts in the workplace. SB331 provides that any provision in violation of that prohibition would be against public policy and unenforceable.
The new law requires that, when offering an employee a severance agreement, an employer must notify the employee that they have the right to consult with an attorney. The employer must provide a reasonable time period (not less than five business days) for consultation.
SB 331, provides sample language allowing for a “carve out” to be used in connection with a general confidentiality clause in any agreement between an employer and employee, and it reads, “Nothing in this agreement prevents you from discussing or disclosing information about unlawful acts in the workplace, such as harassment or discrimination or any other conduct that you have reason to believe is unlawful.”
If you have 5 or more employees, this law applies to your business. Under the California Family Rights Act (CFRA), eligible employees may take 12 weeks of leave per year to provide care to family members, including parents. AB 1033 expands the definition of “parent” under the CFRA to include parents-in-law. This law provides further information and procedural details for the implementation of the small employer mediation program.
Employers will need to retain personnel records for longer periods of time. The new law extends the current personnel records retention requirement from two to four years. If litigation has been filed, employers must retain such records until the applicable statute of limitations has run, or until the conclusion of the litigation, whichever occurs later. SB 807 also makes several changes to the filing and tolling deadlines for bringing claims for certain civil rights violations, including claims on behalf of a class.
The new law authorizes the Labor Commissioner to create, as an alternative to a judgment lien, a lien on real property to secure amounts due to the commissioner for final citation, findings, or decision.
Employers will be allowed to distribute information they are required to physically post to employees via email with document(s) attached. However, this new law DOES NOT absolve the employer of its obligation to physically display the required postings under other state or federal laws.
Took effect on October 5, 2021. Employers’ notification, benefits, and disinfecting requirements after COVID-19 exposure have been clarified By way of urgency statute.
This bill revises the language in AB 685 used to describe employer’s COVID-19 notice obligations to employees about COVID-19-related benefits and the disinfection and safety information after potential COVID-19 exposure.
This law requires employers to send notice to all employees who were “on the premises at the same worksite as the qualifying individual within the infectious period” rather than solely to “employees who may have been exposed.” The law also revises the time frame in which employers must give notice of COVID-19 outbreaks to local public health agencies from “within 48 hours” to “within 48 hours or one business day, whichever is later.” The bill exempts certain licensed health facilities from the requirement to report outbreaks to local health agencies since those facilities already have other legal reporting obligations.
These are the laws that apply to ALL businesses; however, there are more that may affect your business. Other new laws deal with training for nurses (AB1407); medical accommodations (AB468); unfair competition (SB461); wage and hour (Tips for food delivery and facility personnel – AB 286, Quotas disclosure for warehouse distribution centers – AB701; Janitorial workers and PAGA suits – SB646, etc); and Workplace Safety (domestic workers – SB321; egregious violations- SB606). Please make sure you review the new labor laws that affect your industry.