2020 CA Employment Law Updates

Feb 04, 2020

Each new year brings about new changes in employment law. Governor Gavin Newsom signed into legislation a number of new laws that impact California employers. Here’s what to look for in 2020:

AB 5 – New Employee Classification Test: The law codifies and modifies the California Supreme Court’s “ABC test” from its decision in the Dynamex case. The law severely limits the ability of California companies to classify workers as independent contractors rather than employees. Stated in an abbreviated manner, to satisfy the ABC test and classify a worker as an independent contractor, the company must prove that the worker is (A) free from the company’s control, and (B) performs work outside the company’s primary business, and (C) is regularly engaged in the trade the worker is hired for, independent of work for the company. There are specific exemptions for certain industries.

AB 9 – Statute of Limitations for FEHA Claims Expanded: The period of filing a complaint for workplace harassment, discrimination or retaliation has been extended from one to three years.

AB 25 – Employee Data Exempt from CCPA: The current California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) allows consumers various rights with regards to their personal information held by businesses, including to have their personal information deleted. The bill broadly included employees and job applicants, who could potentially ask to have information deleted from their personnel files. Under the new law, employee data is exempt from the CCPA; however, the exemption is only good for one year.

AB 51 – Banning Mandatory Employment Arbitration Agreements: Beginning January 1, 2020, employers are prohibited from requiring any applicant for employment or employee to sign an arbitration agreement as a condition of employment or continued employment. Employers cannot retaliate against or terminate any employee or applicant who refuses to sign an arbitration agreement. If an employer is engaged in interstate commerce, they are governed by the Federal Arbitration Act and this law becomes ineffectual.

SB 83 – Expansion of Paid Family Leave: Beginning July 1, 2020, Paid Family Leave (PFL) benefits from California’s State Disability Insurance program will be increased from six to eight weeks.

SB 142 – Expanded Lactation Accommodation Requirements: Employer requirements to provide appropriate workplace lactation accommodations have been expanded. The added requirements require employers to provide a lactation room close to the employee’s work area, shielded from view, and free from intrusion. In addition, employers must provide access to a sink with running water and a refrigerator. Employers must implement a lactation accommodation policy.

SB 188 – Protected Hairstyles: Under FEHA, the law prohibits discrimination and harassment based upon a person’s natural hairstyle. Natural hairstyles such as “braids, locks, and twists” are now protected.

SB 778 – Extending Deadline to Complete Sexual Harassment Prevention Training: Sexual harassment prevention training deadline has been extended from January 1, 2020 to January 1, 2021.

California’s Exempt Salary Threshold: The salary threshold for the executive, administrative and professional exemptions are directly tied to the California’s state minimum wage. In other words, when the minimum wage goes up statewide, so does the exempt salary threshold. In addition to meeting certain duties tests, exempt employees in CA must earn a fixed monthly salary of at least double the minimum wage for full-time employment. It is important to note that local minimum-wage ordinances do not affect the exempt salary threshold. Accordingly, the statewide minimum wage and exempt salary threshold as of January 1, 2020 is $54,080 for businesses with 26 or more employees and $49,920 for businesses with 25 or fewer employees.

CA Minimum Wage: The California Minimum wage increases to $13.00 per hour for businesses with 26 or more employees and $12.00 for businesses with 25 or fewer employees. Local Ordinances may apply and supersede the CA State Law. CLICK HERE for a list of local minimum wage ordinances.

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