Labor and Employment Mandates
AB 95 (Low; D-Campbell) Burdensome New Bereavement Leave Mandate: Imposes a significant new burden on employers of every size by mandating that they provide employees bereavement leave upon the death of a spouse, child, parent, sibling, grandparent, grandchild, or domestic partner, regardless of how long the employee has worked for the employer. The bill further opens up new avenues for litigation against California employers by establishing a brand new private right of action (in addition to liability under PAGA and administrative enforcement through the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement) Held in Assembly Appropriations Committee, May 20, 2021.
AB 616 (Stone; D-Scotts Valley) Forced Unionization Process for Agricultural Employees: Limits an employee’s ability to independently and privately vote for unionization in the workplace, by essentially eliminating a secret ballot election and replacing it with the submission of representation cards signed by over 50% of the employees, which leaves employees susceptible to coercion and manipulation by labor organizations. Also, unfairly limits an employer’s ability to challenge the cards submitted by forcing employers to post an unreasonable bond, and then limits an employee’s ability to decertify a union, by forcing them to go through the ballot election process instead of submission of representation cards. Also includes an unnecessary presumption of retaliation that is effectively unlimited in scope because it would apply for the duration of an election campaign, which could last for a year or more. Vetoed.
AB 650 (Muratsuchi; D-Torrance) Healthcare Workers: COVID-19 Bonuses: Imposes at least an estimated $6 billion in direct payroll costs on healthcare providers through mandatory bonuses, which will jeopardize access to affordable healthcare due to the billions of dollars the healthcare industry has lost during the pandemic. Prohibits healthcare providers from reducing staff even if they are unable to afford to continue to pay those bonuses. Placed on Assembly Inactive File on June 3, 2021 at author’s request.
AB 995 (Gonzalez; D-San Diego) Costly Sick Leave Expansion on All Employers: Imposes new costs and leave requirements on employers of all sizes, by expanding the number of paid sick days employers are required to provide, which is in addition to all of the recently enacted leave mandates (COVID-19 sick leave, Cal/OSHA emergency paid time off, California Family Rights Act (CFRA) leave, workers’ compensation, etc.) that small employers throughout the state are already struggling with to implement and comply. Placed on Assembly Inactive File on June 3, 2021 at author’s request.
AB 1003 (Gonzalez; D-San Diego) Criminal Liability for Good Faith Mistakes: Prior to amendments, would have proposed to criminalize small employers, managers, and supervisors, who in good faith, make a mistake in the application of the law, that even the Labor Commissioner and the courts disagree with on how to interpret. Job killer tag and opposition removed due to April 22, 2021 amendments narrowing the application of the bill to only criminalize fraudulent and knowingly unlawful conduct by bad actors. Signed. Chapter 325, Statutes of 2021.
AB 1041 (Wicks; D-Oakland) Significant Expansion of Family Leave and Paid Sick Leave: Prior to amendments, would have significantly expanded multiple existing leave requirements in California that apply to employers of five or more, including small employers with limited employees who are struggling as a result of the pandemic, by allowing an employee to take leave to care for any family member or any person of their choosing without limitation, and subjecting the employer to costly litigation under the Fair Employment and Housing Act or the Labor Code Private Attorney General Act (PAGA), for any alleged interference, interruption, discouragement, or denial. Job killer tag removed due to April 22, 2021 amendments narrowing the bill so that the only additional persons that an employee can take leave to care for is one designated person per 12-month period. Place on Senate Inactive File, September 9, 2021.
AB 1074 (Gonzalez; D-San Diego) Onerous Return to Work Mandate: Prior to amendments, would have imposed an onerous and stringent process that is unlimited in time for specific employers to return employees to the workforce for specified industries, including hotels and restaurants that have been disproportionally impacted by this pandemic, which would have delayed rehiring and employers’ ability to re-open after being forced to close or reduce operations due to COVID-19. Job killer tag removed due to April 19, 2021 amendments eliminating COVID-19 related recall provisions from the bill. Vetoed.
AB 1119 (Wicks; D-Oakland) Expansion of Duty to Accommodate Employees and Litigation Under FEHA: Imposes new burdens on employers to accommodate any employee with family responsibilities, which will essentially include a new, uncapped protected leave for employees to request time off for things such as school drop-off or pick-up, and exposes employers to costly litigation under the Fair Employment and Housing Act that any adverse employment action was in relation to the employee’s family responsibilities, rather than a violation of employment policies. Held in Assembly Appropriations Committee, May 20, 2021.
AB 1179 (Carrillo; D-Los Angeles) Costly New Mandate on Employers to Pay for Employee Childcare: Imposes a new, costly mandate on public and private employers to cover up to 60 hours of employees’ childcare costs each year, with any alleged violation resulting in litigation under PAGA. Held in Assembly Appropriations Committee, May 20, 2021.
AB 1192 (Kalra; D-San Jose) Public Shaming of Employers: Places new onerous administrative burdens on employers by requiring annual reporting of wage and hour data and employee benefits for an employer’s entire United States workforce that will publicly shame employers for lawful conduct by publishing that data on the Labor and Workforce Development Agency’s website, and will subject employers to frivolous litigation and settlement demands. Placed on Assembly Inactive File on June 3 at author’s request.
SB 62 (Durazo; D-Los Angeles) Increased Costs and Liability on Employers: Significantly increases the burden on non-unionized employers in the garment manufacturing industry in California, by eliminating piece rate as a method of payment even though it can benefit the employee, creating joint and several liability for contractors for any wage violations or the employer, and shifting the evidentiary standards in a Labor Commissioner hearing to limit the ability for an employer to defend against an alleged wage violation. These additional requirements will encourage companies to contract with manufacturers outside of California, thereby limiting the demand and workforce of garment manufacturers in California. Signed. Chapter 329, Statutes of 2021.
ACA 8 (Lee; D-San Jose) Wealth Tax: Proposes to amend the Constitution to impose a massive tax increase upon all forms of personal property or wealth, whether tangible or intangible, despite California already having the highest income tax in the country. This tax increase will drive high-income earners out of the State as well as the revenue they contribute to the General Fund. From printer in Assembly, March 23, 2021.
AB 71 (L. Rivas; D-Arleta) Massive Corporate Tax Increase: Significantly increases the taxation on the gross income of international companies to create a homelessness fund, thereby shifting the responsibility of the crisis onto the private sector, despite the $15 billion in unexpected revenue. Placed on Assembly Inactive File at author’s request, June 3, 2021.
AB 310 (Lee; D-San Jose) Wealth Tax: Seeks to impose a massive tax increase upon all forms of personal property or wealth, whether tangible or intangible, despite California already having the highest income tax in the country. This tax increase will drive high-income earners out of the State as well as the revenue they contribute to the General Fund. In Assembly Revenue and Taxation Committee, April 6, 2021.
AB 1199 (Gipson; D-Carson) Targeted Tax on Homeowners: Unfairly imposes an excise tax on certain individual and corporate homeowners to pay for housing related services, which will ultimately increase rental rates and worsen housing unaffordability for vulnerable tenants. In Assembly Revenue and Taxation Committee, April 6, 2021.
AB 1253 (Santiago; D-Los Angeles) Massive Personal Income Tax Increase: Increases the state personal income tax rate, which is already the highest in the country, on high wage earners and sole proprietors. This tax increase will drive high-income earners out of the State as well as the revenue they contribute to the General Fund. In Assembly Revenue and Taxation Committee, March 26, 2021.
AB 1400 (Kalra; D-San Jose) Government-Run Health Care: Eliminates private insurance and choice-based healthcare by creating an exorbitantly expensive new state-run health care system that will cost California more than $400 billion, which will ultimately be funded by taxpayers, and will delay access to providers, diminish quality of healthcare, and eliminate jobs in California. Failed deadline to move from policy committee to fiscal committee, April 30, 2021.
AB 1295 (Muratsuchi; D-Torrance) Housing Development Ban: Removes local land use authority and exacerbates the housing crisis by prohibiting cities and counties from entering into a residential development agreement in Very High Fire Severity Zones, which strips local communities of their land use authority and applies a one-size-fits all ban on development throughout large swaths of California. In Assembly Local Government Committee. Failed deadline to move from policy committee to fiscal committee, April 30, 2021.
SB 55 (Stern; D-Canoga Park) Housing Development Ban: Removes local land use authority by prohibiting any residential or commercial construction in either Very High Fire Severity Zones or State Responsibility Area, which effectively bans development activity in 1/3 of the state of California and will exacerbate the existing housing crisis. In Senate Governance and Finance Committee. Failed deadline to move from policy committee to fiscal committee, April 30, 2021.
SB 499 (Leyva; D-Chino) Housing Development Ban: Prohibits cities and counties from designating any land uses that have potential to adversely impact disadvantaged communities, even if any potential impacts could be mitigated. In doing so, the bill removes local land use authority, creates new costly CEQA litigation and worsens the state’s housing crisis. In Senate Governance and Finance Committee. Failed deadline to move from policy committee to fiscal committee, April 30, 2021.
AB 701 (Lorena Gonzalez; D-San Diego) New PAGA Litigation and Regulations for Warehouses: Threatens warehouse employers with duplicative costly litigation by creating a duplicative and likely inconsistent regulation from Cal/OSHA regarding appropriate performance levels in warehouses. Also creates rebuttable presumption of retaliation that can be triggered multiple times which will interfere with legitimate discipline, as well as creating a new Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) claim related to warehouse work speed. Job killer tag removed due to July 15, 2021 amendments narrowing the application of the bill on multiple fronts, including PAGA litigation and injunctive relief. Signed. Chapter 197, Statutes of 2021.
AB 1465 (Reyes; D-San Bernardino) Workers’ Compensation: Medical Provider Networks: Prior to amendments, would have mandated the creation of state-run Medical Provider Network for workers’ compensation claims, which would have imposed millions of dollars of costs on the current system as well as the state while reducing injured workers’ access to quality care. Job killer tag and opposition removed due to April 26, 2021 amendments narrowing the bill to only require a study of access to workers’ compensation care in medical provider networks. In Senate Labor, Public Employment and Retirement Committee, June 16, 2021.
SB 213 (Cortese; D-San Jose) Expands Costly Presumption of Injury: Significantly increases workers’ compensation costs for public and private hospitals by presuming certain diseases and injuries are caused by the workplace and establishes an extremely concerning precedent for expanding presumptions into the private sector. Placed on Senate Inactive File on June 3 after falling short of votes needed to pass.
Government Regulation and Enforcement
SB 606 (Gonzalez; D-Long Beach) Expansion of Cal/OSHA Authority and Enforcement: Significantly expands Cal/OSHA authority by creating new “egregious employer” category in Labor Code, creates a new category of “enterprise-wide” citations that face different appeal and abatement practices. Finally, creates multiple new presumptions of retaliation that are duplicative of existing protections and will generate litigation. Job killer tag removed due to March 25, 2021 amendments limiting certain overbroad provisions, but CalChamber remains opposed due to structural changes to Cal/OSHA enforcement. Signed. Chapter 336, Statutes of 2021.
SB 467 (Wiener; D-San Francisco) Oil and Gas Development Ban: Eliminates thousands of high-paying California jobs and requires California to import even more foreign oil by shutting down approximately 95% of oil and gas production in California. Failed passage in Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee, April 13, 2021.