September 30, 2020, was the last day for Governor Newsom to sign new bills into law, and he signed many! New laws have been passed in workers’ compensation, paid sick leave and workplace safety as they related to COVID-19; leaves of absence; worker classification; discrimination, harassment and retaliation protections; privacy; and wage and hour.
Below is a summary of some legislation that is in effect now, or that will go into effect on January 1, 2021. You can click here to read the entire article published by CalChamber.
Workers Compensation: SB 1159 establishes a rebuttable workers’ compensation presumption for workers that contract COVID-19 under certain conditions by first codifying Newsom’s workers’ compensation executive order for workers who contracted COVID-19 between March 19, 2020 and July 5, 2020, and second, creating a rebuttable presumption for first responders and health care personnel who contract COVID-19 after July 6, 2020.
SB 1159 also creates an “outbreak” presumption for employers with five or more employees, covering workers who test positive for COVID-19 during an “outbreak” at the employee’s place of employment. The statute specifically defines “outbreak” as any of the following:
- If the employer has 100 employees or fewer at a specific place of employment, four employees test positive for COVID-19 within two weeks.
- If the employer has more than 100 employees at a specific place of employment, 4 percent of the number of employees test positive within two weeks.
- Public authorities order the place of employment closed due to a risk of COVID-19 infection.
- Employers have limited time to reject claims under the new law.
Additionally, when an employer with five or more employees “knows or reasonably should know” that an employee tests positive for COVID-19, SB 1159 requires the employer to inform its workers’ compensation carrier and provide specified information within three business days. SB 1159 was an urgency measure that went into effect September 17, 2020.
Paid Sick Leave: AB 1867 also took effect immediately upon being signed on September 9, 2020. This bill expands supplemental paid sick leave for COVID-19-related reasons for certain employers not already covered by the federal FFCRA – specifically, employers with 500 or more employees nationwide. Employees who work for covered employers can take COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave if the worker is:
- Subject to a federal, state or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19;
- Advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine or self-isolate due to concerns related to COVID-19; or
- Prohibited from working by the employer due to health concerns related to the potential transmission of COVID-19.
The California DLSE has issued guidance on the new leave requirements that answers employers’ common questions about coverage, eligibility, calculating leave amounts and pay
Workplace Safety: AB 685 establishes stringent COVID-19 recording and reporting requirements when employers receive “notice of a potential exposure to COIVD-19” at the workplace. Among other things, AB 685 requires employers to provide a number of notices to different groups of employees within one business day after receiving notice of a potential COVID-19 exposure.
AB 685 also requires employers to notify their local public health agency within 48-hours of a COVID-19 “outbreak,” as defined by the CDPH.
Leaves of Absence: SB 1383 significantly expands the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) beginning January 1, 2021. Currently the CFRA applies to employers with 50 or more employees, just like FMLA, while a separate California law, the New Parent Leave Act (NPLA), requires employers with 20 or more employees to provide parental leave.
SB 1383 expands CFRA’s coverage to include all employers with five or more employees – effectively eliminating NPLA, the obligations of which will be folded into the expanded CFRA. This expansion will have a major impact on small businesses, which must quickly get up to speed on CFRA’s requirements to be ready by January 1, 2021.
SB 1383 also expands the definition of “family members” beyond what’s covered under the FMLA. Currently, both FMLA and the CFRA allow leave to care for a parent, spouse or child; on January 1st, the CFRA will expand family members to also cover grandchildren, grandparents, siblings and parents-in-law.
Pay Data: Another notable bill is SB 973, which requires a private employer with 100 or more employees – that is also required under federal law to file an annual Employer Information Report (EEO-1) – to submit a pay data report to the DFEH that contains information about their employees’ race, ethnicity and gender in various job categories on or before March 31, 2021. The law doesn’t specify exactly how the reporting process will be implemented; it only states that employers must submit the report in a searchable and sortable electronic format. The bill gives the DFEH related enforcement authority, and employers likely will hear from the department in the coming months.