Job Killer Update: Several Held in Fiscal Committee, But Others Pass
(May 21, 2021) Action on several California Chamber of Commerce-opposed job killer bills will be delayed until next year with their failure to move out of the Assembly fiscal committee on May 20. Others, including a massive corporate tax increase and bills increasing litigation costs, will be subject to more immediate action.
The following labor and employment bills will be actively considered again next year:
• 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 up to ten (10) days of 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).
• 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.
• 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.
Unfortunately, the following job killers will be advancing for consideration by the entire Assembly or Senate:
Labor and Employment Mandates
• 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 retroactive to January 1, 2021, 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.
• AB 995 (Lorena 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.
• 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.
• 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.
• 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.
• AB 71 (Luz 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 state’s $76 billion (as indicated by the Governor) in unexpected revenue.
• AB 701 (Lorena Gonzalez; D-San Diego) New Private Right of Action, PAGA Litigation, and Regulations for Warehouses. Threatens warehouse employers with duplicative costly litigation by creating a new, independent private right of action, and a representative action under the Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA), for failing to comply with vague standards. Additionally invites ongoing litigation by creating a rebuttable presumption of retaliation for any adverse employment action associated with an employee’s work performance, and compels duplicative and likely inconsistent regulations from both Labor Commissioner and Cal/OSHA regarding appropriate performance levels in warehouses.