California Employment Bills to Watch

Posted: September 2, 2020 | News

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic and wildfires that have plagued California in 2020, California legislators have been hard at work drafting bills that will affect California employers. Here are several to watch:

Meal and Rest Breaks: Remote Worker (SB 729) – This bill would prohibit employees who work remotely from recovering civil penalties against their employer under the Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) for meal and rest break violations that occur during remote work between March 19, 2020 and December 31, 2022. Employees who reside on property owned or provided by their employer are excluded.

Employers: Annual Report: Pay Data (SB 973) – Requires private employers with 100 or more employees who file an annual Employer Information Report under federal law, to submit a pay data report to the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) disclosing certain wage information. The report would be due by March 31, 2021 and each year thereafter.

Workers’ Compensation: COVID-19: Critical Workers (SB 1159) – This bill extends workers’ compensation coverage to employees who suffer illness or death from COVID-19 under specified circumstances until January 1, 2023. This bill also allows for a presumption of injury for all employees whose fellow employees at their place of employment experience specified levels of positive COVID-19 testing, if the employer has five or more employees.

Unlawful Employment Practice: Family Leave (SB 1383) – Employers with five or more employees must provide eligible employees with 12 weeks of unpaid family leave during any 12 month period to bond with a new child of the employee or to care for themselves or a child, parent, grandparent, grandchild, sibling, spouse, or domestic partner. This bill would also allow eligible employees to take up to 12 workweeks of unpaid protected leave due to a qualifying exigency related to the covered active duty or call to covered active duty of an employee’s spouse, domestic partner, child, or parent in the Armed Forces.
Workers’ Compensation: COVID-19: Essential Occupations and Industries (AB 196) – This bill establishes a “disputable presumption” that if an employee contracts COVID-19 while working in a defined “essential occupation or industry,” the injury arose out of and in the course of employment.
COVID-19: Imminent Hazard to employees: Exposure: Notification: Serious Violations (AB 685) – Requires employers that receive a notice of potential exposure to COVID-19 to provide specified notifications to employees within one business day of the notice of potential exposure. This bill would require the employer to provide prescribed notice to all employees and the employers of subcontracted employees who were at the same worksite as an infected employee within the infectious period. It also provides for a civil penalty if an employer violates the notification requirements and requires notification to the local public health agency if the number of cases meet the definition of a COVID-19 outbreak.

Unemployment Compensation: Benefits Payable: Collection (AB 1066) – This bill would require, on and after January 1, 2021, that if an employer, within 10 days after receiving an initial notice from the Employment Development Department (EDD) of the need to furnish certain records necessary for a full determination of an employee’s claim for unemployment compensation benefits, fails to furnish those required records or reports to the EDD, it will be conclusively presumed that the employee is entitled to the maximum total benefits payable, unless the EDD determines that the employee is entitled to a lesser amount.
Privacy: California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018 (AB 1281) – This bill would extend the employee and business-to-business exemption under the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) to January 1, 2022 contingent upon the failure of the CCPA of 2020 to pass in the November 3, 2020 election.
Worker Classification: Employees and Independent Contractors: Occupations: Professional Services (AB 2257) – Revises independent contractor law by exempting certain occupations from the ABC test and creating certain professional services exemptions, business-to-business exemptions, and others.
Employment Practices: Leave Time (AB 2992) – This bill provides additional protections to employees who are the victim of crime or abuse for taking time off from work and prohibits employers from taking action against an employee for protected, unscheduled absences.
Warehouse Distribution Centers (AB 3056) – Provides protections for certain warehouse and distribution center employees, including prohibiting certain quotas that must be met by employees. Requires the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) to enforce the bill’s provisions, requires the Labor Commissioner to investigate violations, and permits the imposition of civil penalties against employers.
Unemployment: Rehiring and Retention: State of Emergency (AB 3216) – Requires certain employers to offer laid-off employees job positions based on a preference system. A “laid-off employee” is defined to mean any employee who was employed by the employer for six months or more in the 12 months preceding the state of emergency and whose separation was due to the state of emergency. The bill would authorize an employee to enforce violations by filing with the DLSE and would authorize various remedies, including hiring and reinstatement rights and awarding back pay.

The employment attorneys at Ferruzzo & Ferruzzo, LLP will continue to monitor these bills and you can check on their status by accessing the California Legislative Information here.

This blog is not meant to provide specific legal advice. For advice specific to your business, please contact any of the employment attorneys in our Employment Practices Group, who are ready to assist you with an analysis of how these potential new laws may affect your business.

Colleen M. McCarthy

Colleen M. McCarthy, Esq. is a Partner and chairs the Firm’s Employment Practices Group. She has dedicated her practice to representing and protecting employers, with a particular emphasis on risk mitigation through preventative counseling and sound practical advice. For almost 20 years, Colleen McCarthy has counseled employers about the complicated employment laws that impact their businesses to ensure that they are in compliance, and to reduce the chance of costly litigation. Colleen McCarthy may be reached by phone at (949) 608-6900 or email