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January 11, 2021

2020 was a busy and challenging year and lawmakers in Sacramento have been busy with Gavin Newsome signing a record number of law changes taking effect January 1, 2021. Law changes from year. to year are common, but 2020 stands out with it’s record number of legal changes, with a large number affecting employers and employees in California in response to rapidly changing conditions. The prior year brought us a global pandemic, a racial movement and protests, immigration challenges, and a perfect storm of obstacles to overcome. Here is a list of the major changes:

Minimum Wage Increases

Starting January 1, 2021, California’s minimum wage increases to $14.00 per hour for company’s with 26 or more employees and $13.00 per hour at companies smaller than that Increases phased in across the state will effectively mandat California’s minimum wage at $15.00 per hour by end of year.

Coronavirus Exposure Law

In response to the Coronavirus pandemic in the workplace, a law enacted requires employers to notify employees within 24 hours of any outbreak in order to protect their health. Failure to do may result in severe penalties.

Family Leave FMLA Expansions

Current law extends broad FMLA benefits to employees of companies with 5 or more employees, a huge departure form the previous threshold of 50 employees. The bill expanded the California Family Rights Act to include employers with at least five employees and also expanded the list of reasons for taking family or medical leave. Employees can now take leave to care for siblings, grandparents and grandchildren.

SB-973 – Pay Data Reporting To Identify Pay Equality Issues

Separate legislation titled SB-973, will require employers with 100 or more employees to report pay data by March 1, 2021 and the annually thereafter. The reporting specifically identifies pay by race, gender, age, and culture in order to identify, and prevent pay inequality. The report must include the number of employees by race, ethnicity and gender and their job categories as well as pay band data.

“It’s a pay equity enforcement mechanism for the state of California,” Hall said. “So it’s important for that reason because if the employer does have pay equity issues, based on gender or race, they should know that before they file.”

These are just some of the prominent law changes effective with the new year. The shift in focus towards protecting workers is clearly evident, with a large focus on coronavirus safety and minimum wage. If you have questions or concerns about the implementation and adherence to these or any other California Employment laws, please contact us for a free strategy session and know your rights.

Minimum wage and other California employment law changes effective January 1, 2021