California has laws that passed last year and took effect January 1 that impact micro and small businesses. Some legislation will increase the cost of doing business. This includes an increase in the minimum wage and expanded paid time off opportunities. Make sure your clients know about the following laws.
Employee Benefit Bills
AB 1041 Leaves of Absence (Wicks) – Allows employees to take 12 unpaid weeks off to care for certain family members. This applies if the employee has been employed for the previous 12 months or has worked 1,250 work hours. The bill defines family members as a spouse, registered domestic partner, child, parent, parent-in-law, grandparent, grandchild, and sibling. This bill will allow employers to limit an employee to one family member in a 12-month period.
AB 1949 Family Bereavement (Low) – Requires employers with 5 or more employees to provide up to 5 days of unpaid bereavement leave upon the death of a family member. The employee may receive this benefit so long as they have been employed for at least 30 days before the start of the leave. The employer also must have 5 or more employees.
SB 3 Minimum Wage Increase (Caballero) – Raises the statewide California minimum wage to $15.50 per hour for all employer sizes.
SB 1126 (Cortese) – Requires by December 31, 2025, any eligible employer with one or more employees that does not offer a retirement savings program, to have a payroll deposit savings arrangement to allow an employee participation in the CalSavers program.
SB 1162 Wage Transparency (Limón) – Requires companies that employ at least 15 people to include salary ranges in all job postings. It also requires them to provide these ranges to existing employees upon request. It expands the requirements for annual pay data reports and requires covered employers to retain certain pay records.
Employee Rights Bills
SB 523 Contraceptive Equity Act (Leyva) – Expands the list of protected categories in the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) to include reproductive health decision-making. This includes, but is not limited to, a decision to use or access a particular drug, device, product, or medical service for reproductive health. The law forbids employers from discriminating against an employee or applicant based on reproductive health decision-making. It also forbids them from requiring employees to disclose information related to reproductive health decision-making as a condition of employment, continued employment, or a benefit of employment.
SB 731 A Second Chance (Durazo) – Allows people to have their criminal record electronically sealed from public view for the purposes of a criminal background check for employment. (The bill does not erase their criminal record.) Previous offenders qualify if they completed all terms of their court sentence. This includes any prison or probation time, and keep clear of the justice system. The option is available to people convicted of a serious or violent felony, such as murder, kidnap, rape, or any crime that requires a person to register as a sex offender.
SB 1044 Workplace Safety in Extreme Emergencies (Durazo) – Prohibits an employer from taking or threatening adverse action against any employee for refusing to come to work, or leaving, if the employee has a “reasonable belief” that the workplace or work site is unsafe. That includes taking an employee’s mobile device and preventing them from seeking help. Requires employees to notify the employer of the emergency condition requiring them to leave or refuse to report to the workplace or work site.
AB 2183 Farmworker unionization (Stone) – Allows ballot cards to be dropped off at the state’s agricultural labor relations board for farmworker unionization votes. The purpose of this bill would be to protect workers from employer retaliation.
Proposition 24 Employee Privacy Rights (2020) – Requires businesses that buy, sell, or share for business purposes the personal data of 50,000 or more consumers, households, or devices on an annual basis. This, in order to align to new consumer privacy rights. These include:
- Allowing consumers to request a business not to share their personal data,
- Consumers may request a business to correct personal data that the business possesses,
- Consumers can request that a business limit the use of certain sensitive personal data only to (1) provide requested goods or services and (2) fulfill key business purposes such as providing customer service. The personal data that can be limited include social security numbers, account log-ins with passwords, health data, etc…
Bills that Impact Retail Business
AB 44 Ban on Fur (Friedman) – Bans the sale and manufacture of new fur products. Signed into law in 2019, California was the first state to do so. This bill excludes products used for religious, taxidermy, and tribal purposes.
AB 257 Fast Food Council (Holden) – Sets up a 10-member council that includes worker and employer representatives and two state officials. This council will review pay and safety standards across the restaurant industry. This bill allows any city with a population of 200,000 or more to set up its own local fast food council. The council can issue health, safety, and anti-discrimination regulations and set an industry-wide minimum wage.
AB 1287 Ban on the “Pink Tax” (Bauer-Kahan) – Prohibits retailers from charging a higher price on products marketed to women. Violators may face hefty fines.