A new year is just around the corner! No doubt we will all be happy to put 2020 behind us!
As with every new year, there are a number of new employment laws and regulations. This is the first of two articles to inform you about those laws.
Expanded California Family Rights Act (CFRA)
The California Family Rights Act currently requires employers with 50 or more employees to provide eligible employees with 12 weeks of unpaid leave in a 12-month period to 1) recover from a serious health condition; 2) care for a family member with a serious health condition; or 3) bond with their child.
SB 1383 expands CFRA coverage, effective January 1, 2021, as follows:
- The law now applies to employers with 5 or more employees
- It eliminates the employee count within a 75-mile radius requirement
- The definition of covered family members is expanded from child, parent, spouse or domestic partner to include grandparent, grandchild and siblings
- “Child” is no longer limited to children under age 18
- The leave cap of 12 weeks for new child bonding for two parents employed by the same employer has been eliminated
- The key employee exception is now repealed
- The law repeals the New Parent Leave Act for employers with 20 to 49 employees because the new CFRA will provide this coverage
A CFRA and Federal Family Medical Leave (FMLA) may run concurrently or separately depending on whether the CFRA leave is covered by FMLA. If it’s not, an eligible employee may take both – 12 weeks for CFRA and an additional 12 weeks for FMLA. Be sure to update your policies to reflect the changes.
Deadline for CA Sexual Harassment Prevention Training
SB 778 extends the deadline for CA anti-harassment training to January 1, 2021 for employers with fewer than 50 workers/contract employees.
All employers must provide two hours of training to supervisors and one hour of training to non-supervisors. Training must be repeated every two years and new employees/supervisors must be trained within their first six months. Other requirements include:
Supervisor training must be “live,” and interactive, e.g., via a webinar, with the opportunity for participants to ask questions, have them answered and seek guidance and assistance. Supervisors are expected to actively participate in the training. Employers must document attendance and keep for two years a copy of the webinar, plus all written materials, responses submitted during the webinar, and all written responses or guidance the training provided during the webinar.
Increased Protections for Employees Who are Victims of Crime or Abuse
AB 2992 expands protections for employees who take time off from work as a result of crime or abuse. Existing law requires that employers with 25 or more employees allow an employee who was the victim of domestic violence, sexual assault and/or stalking to take time off to seek medical attention or related services. The new law expands those protections to include victims of any other crime or abuse that causes physical or mental injury and a threat of physical injury, and any person whose immediate family member is deceased as the direct result of the crime. Under this law, immediate family members are broadly defined to include child, parent, sibling, partner and any other individual whose close association with the employee is the equivalent of a family relationship. Employers are prohibited from discharging or discriminating against employees who take time off for reasons defined in the law. Find more information here.
With more companies offering employees “unlimited vacation,” it’s important to note some recent case law around the payout of unused vacation upon termination. In McPherson v. EF Intercultural Foundation, multiple former employees sued for failure to pay unused vacation. They had been told by the company that they could take an unspecified amount of time off for vacation, subject to their supervisor’s approval. Because the employer did not have a written policy that clearly defined and communicated the obligations of employee and employer in requesting and approving time off, the Court required that the employer make some payment to the employees for expected vacation that they did not use.
If you offer, or are considering offering unlimited vacation, be sure you have a written policy and that you review it with your legal counsel for compliance. Also, be sure that you administer the policy consistently and you communicate it to your employees. Note that unlimited vacation policies should not apply to non-exempt employees.
EEOC Pay Data Reporting
Although federal EEO reporting has been paused, California passed legislation in September (SB 973) that requires employers with 100 or more employees to report certain pay and other data to the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH). The first report is due March 31, 2021 and annually thereafter. Find out more about reporting requirements here.
Minimum Pay Changes
Finally, please note these minimum pay rate changes for California employees, all effective January 1, 2021.
Non-exempt minimum wage:
- $14/hour for employers with 26 or more employees
- $13/hour for employers with 25 or fewer employees
Minimum exempt salary:
- $58,240/year for employers with 26 or more employees
- $54,080/year for employers with 25 or fewer employees
Computer Software Professionals: $98,907.70 per year ($47.48 per hour)
Minimum wage rates may vary according to the city/county where the employee works. Be sure you are adhering to local requirements.
As always, please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have questions.
In my next article we’ll cover some new laws and regulations specifically related to COVID-19.