New California Employment Laws in 2021 That You Need to Know About

AdobeStock_170059060-300x200Even with all the unexpected challenges of 2020, the California State Legislature still passed employment laws that will take effect in 2021. If employers do not change their employment practices to adhere to the new laws, they can face liability in an employment lawsuit or administrative sanctions from state agencies such as the Labor Commissioner. Learn more about some of the many changes that will take effect in 2021:

COVID-19 Laws

It should be no surprise that many of these new laws address the immediate safety concerns presented by the coronavirus pandemic. As noted by the California Chamber of Commerce, two bills took effect immediately upon signing in September 2020. The first expands supplemental paid sick leave for COVID-19-related reasons for certain employers not already covered by the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). The second creates a rebuttable workers’ compensation presumption for workers that contract COVID-19 under certain conditions. The law requires employers to report COVID-19 cases to their workers’ compensation carriers.

An additional bill that takes effect on January 1, 2021, establishes strict reporting requirements when employers are notified that an employee has COVID-19. The law specifies which other employees in the workplace must be notified and also requires employers to report “outbreaks” in the workplace to local public health authorities. The law also increases the enforcement authority of Cal/OSHA related to COVID-19 cases.

Changes to Leave of Absence Laws

There are some critical changes to the California Family Rights Act in store for 2021. First, the Act will now apply to all employers with five or more employees, instead of fifty employees. This greatly expands the number of California employers who are subject to the Act. Second, the definition of “family members” is expanded beyond what is defined in the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). This means that employers may have to carefully administer FMLA and CFRA leave requests separately in order to stay compliant with both laws.

The law allowing victims of abuse and violence to take time off from work has also been expended. Currently, the law protects leave for victims to attend judicial proceedings, medical appointments, and other similar relief that is related to the crime that was perpetrated against them. The expansion enhances prohibitions on retaliation and discrimination against employees who exercise this legal right. Employers must be sure that their policies both protect the right to take leave in these circumstances and prohibit any discrimination or retaliation against workers who take such leave.

Call Us Today to Speak with an Experienced California Business Lawyer

These are not, of course, the only employment law changes in California that will take effect in 2021. It is important for business owners to establish a working relationship with an experienced California employment law attorney who can keep them apprised of changes in the law that will affect the company’s employment practices. Call (408) 441-7500 or contact us through ourĀ website to schedule a consultation. Our experienced business lawyers can help your company update practices to stay compliant with 2021 employment laws and avoid unnecessary liability.