Upcoming Legal Changes

Just as the holidays are on the horizon, our good mood drops because we know the legislature has new surprises for us. This is just a quick heads up about what’s coming.

  • AB1033 adds parents-in-law to the list of family members under CFRA (CA Family Rights Act). This means employees can also take the protected time off to care for a parent-in-law. This same law also expands the mediation program the state offers for companies of 5-19 employees. Since they expected small companies to have trouble with this protected leave, they are now requiring employees to go through mediation before filing a lawsuit.

  • SB606 allows Cal/OSHA (the state’s version of the Federal Occupational Health and Safety Act) to issue more citations. Now a violation of certain safety rules can be enterprise-wide (multiple worksites) and carries a higher penalty. In addition, if an employee is exposed to that safety violation, the penalties can be on a per-employee basis.

  • AB1003 considers it grand theft if a company is found guilty of intentional theft of wages, benefits, or compensation over a certain amount in a 12-month period and it may result in a misdemeanor or felony. The amounts are over $950 for one employee or $2,350 for more than one. We see a lot of charges of wage theft in California so this is something to audit periodically.

  • SB572 allows the Labor Commissioner to create a lien on real property as an alternative to a judgment lien.

  • SB331 continues to limit confidentiality clauses in severance and settlement agreements. If you are reusing old agreements, now is the time to have them reviewed by an attorney to ensure they are valid. This law also expands acts of harassment and discrimination of any protected characteristic, not just those based on sex.

  • AB701 targets warehouse distribution centers, including electronic shopping and mail-order houses. Each non-exempt (hourly) employee must receive a written job description, including any quotas, time periods, etc., and what may happen if the employee fails to meet the quota. The employee can request their 90-day work speed performance and prevents the employer from taking adverse actions against the employee within 90 days of that request.

  • SB62 targets garment manufacturers and those they may work with for manufacturing. They will all be responsible for any wage violations of employees in that supply chain. This law also prohibits piece-rate pay for this industry except when there is a union.

It’s obvious the big hot button is wage theft. This is when an employee is not receiving at least minimum wage and it’s often because the employer makes the employee pay for certain things that take their earnings below the minimum. It shouldn’t cost your employees anything to work for you. If they must pay for something, it’s critical you have done the calculations and absolutely know they are still earning above minimum wage.

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