Publication Details

The California Legislative Report - February 2021

Feb 23, 2021 | Related Attorney Michael S. Kalt | Topic: Employment

Following the truncated 2020 Legislative Session, the California Legislature was quite active, introducing 2,369 bills for the 2021 Legislative Session, including approximately 80 employment-related bills.  The impacts of COVID-19 are still being felt to the extent many bills are COVID-19 specific, attempt to address work-related issues flowing from COVID-19 shutdowns, or re-introduce non-COVID bills that were set aside in 2020.  Some of the more interesting employment bills would:

  • Reinstate but expand the California-specific requirement to provide COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave (SB 95).
  • Amend the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) to protect “family responsibility” or “political affiliation” (AB 1119 and SB 238).
  • Preclude employers from disciplining employees or applicants for positive “THC” test results (AB 1256).
  • Expand the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) to allow time off to care for parents-in-law and anyone related by blood (AB 1033 and AB 1041).
  • Amend the statewide Paid Sick Leave law to increase amounts available for employee accrual, usage, and carryover (AB 995).
  • Require employers to provide bereavement leave (AB 95).
  • Create a presumption of COVID-19-related retaliation (SB 606).
  • Enact specific telecommuting-related laws related to scheduling, postings, employee acknowledgments, and final pay issues (AB 513, AB 1028, and SB 657).
  • Prohibit confidentiality provisions in a settlement agreement involving any form of harassment or discrimination (SB 331).
  • Enable employers to provide California tax-favored student loan repayment assistance to employees (AB 116).
  • Require larger employers to provide “backup childcare benefits” (AB 1179).
  • Extend the Labor Code to apply to the Legislature and state agencies (AB 1301 and SB 550).
  • Suspend the Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) during COVID-19 shutdowns (AB 385); and
  • Exempt various additional industries from the so-called “ABC Test” for worker classification purposes

There were also several so-called “spot bills” that may be substantively amended regarding various employment subjects, and there is also ongoing discussion about Governor Newsom attempting to enact COVID-19-related paid leave similar to the now-expired AB 1867 via the budget process.

Looking ahead, the California Assembly and Senate will soon commence substantive committee votes to pass any bills that each originated by June 4, 2021.

In the interim, the link below is an overview, arranged largely by subject matter, of the key employment bills currently pending beginning with those related to COVID-19.

To view attachment, click here.