Publication Details

The California Legislative Report - October 2021

Oct 11, 2021 | Related Attorney Michael S. Kalt | Topic: Employment

With the expiration of the October 10, 2021, deadline for Governor Gavin Newsom to sign or veto pending bills, an unusual 2021 California Legislative Session ended.  Perhaps fortunately for California employers and Human Resources professionals, this session resulted in fewer new employment laws generally and certainly fewer material employment laws of widespread application than in recent years.  Whether this is the simply the aberrational result of some unique factors in 2021 (e.g., ongoing COVID limitations on the number of bills introduced plus several significant laws being enacted early in the 2021 session [e.g., COVID 19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave, Hospitality Recall Rights]) remains to be seen.

In any event, and since this is California, Governor Gavin Newsom did sign several new employment laws for employers and Human Resources professionals to consider.  These include laws that:

  • Expand the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) to allow time off to care for a “parent-in-law” (AB 1033).
  • Limit confidentiality provisions in settlement agreements involving any form of FEHA harassment or discrimination and extend non-disparagement prohibition limitations to separation or severance agreements (SB 331).
  • Expand from two years to four years the retention period for certain employment records (SB 807).
  • Clarify several aspects of an employer’s notice obligations related to COVID-19 exposure at work (AB 654); and
  • Define intentional wage deprivation as “grand theft” for criminal prosecution purposes (AB 1003).

In addition, the minimum wage for California and for many municipalities will increase again on January 1, 2022.

On the other hand, the California Legislature did not extend (at least for now), the COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave Law (SB 95), which expired on September 30, 2021.  Other proposals to increase paid sick leave usage/accrual requirements, to expand the California Family Rights Act to “designated persons” and to allow tax favored employer student loan repayment assistance all stalled in 2021 but may resurface in 2022 so stay tuned.

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