Publication Details

The California Legislative Report - July 2021

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

The California Legislature was quite active as its summer recess approached. Amongst other things, the California Legislature passed, and Governor Gavin Newsom signed a new law (SB 657) that will enable employers to provide telecommuting employees with mandatory notices by electronic mail, in addition to posting at the workplace.  In other words, this law clarifies employers need not require telecommuting employees to physically post copies of these notices in their offices at home.  The fact this relatively modest step passed unanimously hopefully reflects the Legislature’s awareness of the challenges employees, employers, and human resource professionals face in applying arguably outdated laws in a dramatically changing workplace environment.

As expected, several other employment-related bills continue to move forward, including bills that would:

  • Amend the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) to allow employers to provide a voluntary hiring preference for veterans (SB 665).
  • Expand the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) to allow time off to care for a “parent-in-law” (AB 1033)
  • Amend the CFRA and California’s Paid Sick Leave Law to allow time off to care for a “designated person” (AB 1041).
  • Prohibit confidentiality provisions in a settlement agreement involving any form of harassment or discrimination (SB 331), and
  • Expand from two years to four years the retention period for certain employment records (SB 807).

The Legislature will return from summer recess on August 16, 2021 to continue working on these bills before the September 10, 2021 deadline to send bills to Governor Newsom.

In the interim, below is an overview of the key pending employment bills.

NEW LAWS

Telecommuting Clarifications for Posting and Employee Acknowledgments (SB 657)

Various Labor Code provisions require that the employer post notices in conspicuous places at the physical workplace.  Responding to questions about whether these posting obligations also apply in the homes of telecommuting employees, this law adds new Labor Code section 1207 to allow employers to distribute these notices by email with the document or documents attached.  However, this email distribution to telecommuting employees does not relieve employers of their obligation to physically post required posters in the workplace.

This law passed unanimously, and the substantive committee comments suggest an increased legislative recognition that telecommuting will remain post-pandemic, and that additional laws may be needed to address these new challenges.

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