Publication Details

The California Legislative Report - May 2021

May 4, 2021 | Related Attorney Michael S. Kalt | Topic: Employment

The 2021 Legislative Session is now in full swing and the California Legislature is clearly taking advantage of the budgetary process to enact new employment laws.  In addition to the law reinstating California’s COVID-19-related supplemental paid sick leave (SB 95), Governor Gavin Newsom has also now signed a new law creating recall rights for employees working in certain industries that were laid off due to COVID-19-related impacts (SB 93).  This new recall rights law took effect immediately and will remain effective until December 31, 2024.

The expiration of the April 30th deadline for bills to pass key policy committee votes has also brought further clarity to this legislative session.  On the one hand, and as expected, many employment-related bills surpassed this initial hurdle, including bills that would:

  • Amend the statewide Paid Sick Leave law to increase amounts available for employee accrual, usage, and carryover (AB 995) and allow usage to care for a “designated person” (AB 1041).
  • Amend the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) to prevent discrimination based upon “family responsibility” (AB 1119).
  • Amend the FEHA to allow employers to provide a voluntary hiring preference for veterans (SB 665).
  • Expand the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) and to allow time off to care for a “parent-in-law” or a “designated person” (AB 1033 and AB 1041).
  • Require employers to provide bereavement leave (AB 95).
  • Create a presumption of COVID-19-related retaliation (SB 606).
  • Prohibit confidentiality provisions in a settlement agreement involving any form of harassment or discrimination (SB 331).
  • Expand from two years to four years the retention period for certain employment records (SB 807), and
  • Require larger employers to provide “backup childcare benefits” (AB 1179).

On the other hand, bills that would provide clarity regarding telecommuting issues (AB 1028 and AB 513), allow employers to provide tax-favored student loan repayment assistance (AB 116) modify the Private Attorneys General Act (AB 530) and allow individualized alternative workweek schedules (AB 230) stalled but may be revisited in 2022.

Looking ahead, bills must pass their legislative chamber of origin by June 4, 2021, so there will likely be further amendments and key votes throughout the month of May.

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