California Passes New Workplace Laws

work place safety digital signThis October, Governor Newsom signed a plethora of bills into law. Among these were several new laws that affect the health and safety of working Californians and create a more just workplace. The legislature passed — and the governor signed — bills pertaining to arbitration, COVID-19 in the workplace, discrimination, recordkeeping, and parental and family leave.

California already has the strongest worker protections in the country. The state relies on attorneys — like our Wage and Hour team at the Arnold Law Firm — to uphold these laws and hold employers accountable. The laws below add to California’s robust worker protections:

COVID-19 in the Workplace

AB 654 (Reyes) Employers Must Notify Employees of Potential COVID-19 Exposure

This bill updates existing laws regarding employers’ obligations following employee exposure to COVID-19. Under this law, employers must notify all employees who were “on the premises at the same worksite as the qualifying individual within the infectious period.” This clarifies language in existing law that required employers to notify employees who were “exposed.” Further, an employer must notify employees of potential exposure to COVID-19 within 48 hours or one business day, whichever is later.

SB 93 (Budget Committee) “Recall Right” for Certain Employees

This law grants “recall rights” to certain employees who were laid off due to the COVID-19 pandemic and were employed by hotels, private clubs, event centers, airport hospitality operations, airport service providers, or building service providers (e.g., janitorial service) for six months or longer during the 12 months before January 1, 2020. In other words, if an employee employed by one of the aforementioned sectors was fired for reasons associated with the pandemic, that employee is eligible for preferential rehiring.  These rights end on December 31, 2024.

SB 336 (Ochoa Bogh) Department of Public Health Guidance Must be Posted Online

This law requires the Department of Public Health and local health officers to publish COVID-19 related orders and guidance online along with the date the order goes into effect.

Discrimination in the Medical Field

AB 1407 (Burke) Implicit Bias Training for Nurses

This law requires nursing programs and schools to include one hour of direct participation in implicit bias training. The law also requires practicing registered nurses to complete one hour of implicit bias continuing education within the first two years of receiving a license.

Arbitration and Recordkeeping

SB 762 (Wieckowski) Arbitration Payments Must Be Timely

This law prevents employers from delaying arbitration proceedings by requiring arbitration fees to be paid upon receipt of invoice unless the arbitration agreement explicitly states an alternative payment schedule.

SB 807 (Wieckowski) Employers Must Retain Employee Records for Longer

This law requires employers to retain employee personnel files until the applicable statute of limitations is up or until any litigation is completed, whichever is later.  Prior to the passage of this law, employers were only required to save personnel files for two years despite a four-year statute of limitations on many wage-related claims.

California Family Rights Act

AB 1033 (Bauer-Kahan) Expansion of and Updates to the California Family Rights Act

This new law expands the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) by adding “parents-in-law” to the definition of a “parent” for purposes of family care and medical leave. This law also modifies the small employer family leave mediation pilot program which is applicable to employers with between five and 19 employees. Now, when an employee requests an immediate right-to-sue alleging a violation of the family care and medical leave provisions of the CFRA, the Department of Fair Employment and Housing must provide notice of the pilot program and the mediation requirement before a civil action can be filed if mediation is requested by the employer or employee.

Our Wage and Hour attorneys at the Arnold Law Firm fight hard for our clients’ rights and have a proven track record of helping employees understand their rights and recover what they earned. We offer a free consultation to discuss your claim and charge you nothing while working on your case.

Call 916-777-7777 to schedule a free consultation.