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Some New Laws as of January 1, 2021

Thursday, January 07, 2021 10:57 AM | Ross Hutchings (Administrator)
Some new laws as of January 1, 2021
  • COVID-19 Exposure AB 685 by Assemblymember Eloise Gómez Reyes (D-San Bernardino) now requires employers to provide written notice and instructions to employees who may have been exposed to COVID-19 at their worksite.  Under the law, employers will also have to notify local public health officials within 48 hours if the number of cases they have qualifies as an “outbreak”.  Further, the law will enhance the Division of Occupational Health and Safety's (Cal/OSHA) ability to enforce health and safety standards to prevent workplace exposure to and spread of the virus. 

Notably, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) has released two employer guidance documents related to law.  The first document released by CDPH provides the definitions relative to AB 685, including for terms such as “COVID-19 outbreak”; “infectious period”; and “laboratory-confirmed case of COVID-19.”  The CDPH also released a more lengthy Employer Q&A regarding AB 685 that addresses issues such as the information employers are required to give workers; how and when workers should be notified; and more. 

  • Minimum Wage Increase In accordance with SB 3 (Leno, 2016), on January 1, 2021 the minimum wage for employers with 26 or more employees increased to $14 per hour.  The minimum wage for employers with 25 or fewer employees increased to $13 per hour.  The Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) has a Frequently Asked Questions guidance document available. 
  • Sexual Harassment Training – In 2018, SB 1343 by Senator Holly Mitchell amended Section 12950.1 of the Government Code to require that sexual harassment prevention training be provided by employers with five or more employees.  The bill further extended the law to require employers to provide one hour of training to non-supervisory employees.  These changes were set to go into effect on January 1, 2020.  SB 778 by the Senate Committee on Labor, Public Employment and Retirement delayed the changes made by SB 1343, but only until January 1, 2021. 
  • California Family Rights Act (CFRA) Expansion SB 1383 by Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara) expanded job-protected family leave for employees of companies with five or more employees.  Additionally, the bill expands the covered family members and potential reasons for which an eligible employee may take leave. 
  • Corporate Boards AB 979 by Assemblymember Chris Holden (D-Pasadena) requires publicly held corporations headquartered in California to diversify their boards of directors with directors from “underrepresented communities” by December 31, 2021.  Further, by December 31, 2022, covered corporations with boards of nine or more directors must have a minimum of three directors from underrepresented communities on their boards, and covered corporations with boards of more than four but less than nine directors must have a minimum of two directors from underrepresented communities. 

AB 976 is similar to SB 826, which was signed into law in 2018, and required all publicly held domestic or foreign corporations whose principal executive offices are located in California to have at least one female director on their boards by December 31, 2019.  Further, one or two more female directors would be required, depending upon the size of the publicly held corporation by December 31, 2021.  Notably, in March of 2020, Secretary of State Alex Padilla issued the second report on corporations’ compliance with Women on Boards.

  • California Pay Data Reporting SB 973 by Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara) requires large employers to report certain pay and other data to the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) by March 31, 2021 and annually thereafter.  Notably, DFEH recently released updated guidance on pay data reporting requirements.
  • Traffic Safety – The California Highway Patrol (CHP) highlighted a couple new roadway safety laws in a recent press release.  The laws included AB 47 (Daly; 2019).  Beginning July 1, 2021, violating the hands-free law for a second time within 36 months of a prior conviction for the same offense will result in a point being added to a driver’s record.  This applies to the violations of talking or texting while driving (except for hands-free use) and to any use of these devices while driving by a person under 18 years of age.  Also, AB 2717 (Chau; 2020) exempts a person from civil or criminal liability for trespassing or damaging a vehicle when rescuing a child who is 6 years old or younger and who is in immediate danger from heat, cold, lack of ventilation, or other dangerous circumstances.  This law took effect on January 1, 2021.  Similarly on January 1st, 2021, AB 2285 (Transportation Committee, 2020) took effect and extends the provisions of the “Move Over, Slow Down” law to also apply to local streets and roads so drivers approaching a stationary emergency vehicle displaying emergency lights, including tow trucks and Caltrans vehicles, must now move to another lane when possible, or slow to a reasonable speed on all highways, not just freeways. 
  • Inmate Firefighters AB 2147 by Assemblymember Eloise Gómez Reyes (D-San Bernardino) allows certain inmates who successfully participated in the California Conservation Camp Program or a county incarcerated individual hand crew as an incarcerated individual hand crew member, am to become firefighters after completing their prison time.
  • Wildfire Protection AB 3074 by Assemblymember Laura Friedman (D-Glendale) adds the need for an ember-resistant zone within five feet of a structure as part of the defensible space requirements for structures located in high fire hazard areas.
  • Homeowners Insurance – As of July 1, 2021, SB 872 by Senator Bill Dodd (D-Napa) will broaden the definition of additional living expenses (ALE) that homeowners insurance must provide to homeowners for a loss during a state of emergency and give them more time to collect the replacement value of their property.  
  • Police Use-of-Force AB 1196 by Assemblymember Mike Gipson (D- Carson) prohibits a law enforcement agency from authorizing the use of a carotid restraint or a choke hold.
  • California Motor Vehicle Brake Friction Material Law SB 346 signed by Governor Schwarzenegger in 2010 bans brake pads containing more than 5 percent copper in 2021.  The California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) has posted additional information regarding this law on its website.

Information provided by MKA - McHugh Koepke & Associates Government Relations

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