Publication Details

The California Legislative Report - February 2020

Feb 27, 2020 | Related Attorney Michael S. Kalt | Topic: Employment

The deadline to introduce new bills during the 2019-2020 California legislative session has expired, and 4,828 bills were introduced overall, including many significant employment bills.  As in 2019, “worker classification” issues flowing from the California Supreme Court’s Dynamex decision will continue to dominate the legislative agenda, notwithstanding the enactment of AB 5 codifying and expanding Dynamex’s ABC Test.  Indeed, there were approximately 35 bills introduced by both parties, and even AB 5’s author, proposing various amendments to AB 5.  These proposals ranged from AB 5’s author’s suggested “recasting” and expanding AB 5 (AB 1850), to an outright repeal of AB 5 (AB 1928), to a constitutional amendment rescinding the ABC Test (ACA 19), and to a proposed “third classification” for gig workers (SB 1039).  For good measure, there were also approximately 30 bills proposing new industry- or occupation-specific exemptions from AB 5.

There were also a number of other significant employment bills proposed on other subjects, including bills to:

  • Amend the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) to protect medicinal marijuana patients (AB 2355) and employees enrolled in drug rehabilitation programs (AB 882);
  • Nullify the so-called “same decision” defense in discrimination cases and require employers to retain for five years records related to employee complaints (AB 2947);
  • Expand the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) to apply to almost all employers and to include new bases for leave (AB 2992 and Governor Gavin Newsom’s “Budget Trailer”);
  • Require employers provide bereavement leave (AB 2999);
  • Expand the Labor Code’s protections for crime victims and their family members (AB 2992);
  • Enable employees to use paid sick leave for “mental health days” (AB 1844);
  • Enact “predictive scheduling” requirements for certain industries (SB 85);
  • Require large employers to submit annual “pay data reports” to the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (SB 973);
  • Amend the Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) to require more detailed pre-suit notices (AB 2530) and to cap employer liability where no actual injury occurred (SB 1129);
  • Enact new requirements related to workplace wellness programs (AB 648); and
  • Require human resource professionals to report child abuse (AB 1963).

There were also a number of so-called “spot bills” (i.e., placeholders likely to be materially and substantively amended) on various topics, including PAGA, FEHA discrimination, workers’ compensation, wage and hour issues, and worker classification.

Looking ahead, these bills will soon be assigned to various committees and be subjected to key initial votes prior to the April 24th deadline for policy committees to approve any bills having a fiscal impact.

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