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Five Major Changes to California Employment Law in 2021


Last year brought unprecedented changes to California employment law, largely due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As the calendar turned to 2021, the pandemic continued to rage on — and the changes to California employment law continued, as well.

We have identified below five major changes of particular note to California employment law, and their potential impact on business. Whether you are an employer or an employee, take your time to become familiar with these changes. Some of the most significant changes and amendments include increasing the state minimum wage, new leave- and pay-reporting requirements, and new rights for victims of crime.

Each of the following new laws or amendments went into effect Jan. 1.

  1. Changes to California’s Family Rights Act (CFRA)

SB 1383 expanded California’s Family Rights Act (CFRA) to cover employers with five or more employees. Also, the new law expanded the qualifying reasons for which eligible employees may take leave under CFRA and eliminated certain use restrictions, such as the requirement that employees work within 75 miles of the worksite.

  1. Employees can now use sick days for kin care or personal sick leave

AB 2017 amends California’s Labor Code Section 233 to permit employees to designate sick leave as for kin care, to attend to their own illness or health condition, or obtain relief if the worker has been a victim of sexual assault, domestic violence, or stalking. The new employment law requires employers to revise their sick-leave policies to ensure that their employees are aware of their right to designate sick days at the sole discretion of the employee.

  1. Employees have more time to file DLSE complaints

AB 1947 extends the statute of limitations to file complaints with the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) when employees believe that they were discriminated against or wrongfully terminated. The law — found in California’s Labor Code Section 98.7 — extends employees’ deadline to file DLSE complaints from six months to one year.

  1. Expanded entitlement to leave for victims of crimes

AB 2992 amends California’s Labor Code Section 230 to expand an employee’s entitlement to leave if they were a victim of a crime. Under the amended law, employers are prohibited from discriminating against, retaliating against or discharging employees who take time off work to obtain relief if they were victims of a crime or abuse that caused physical and/or mental injury.

The previous version of the law covered victims of:

  • Sexual assault
  • Domestic violence
  • Stalking

The new amendment expands the entitlement to leave for victims of crimes “that caused physical injury or that caused mental injury and a threat of physical injury.” Also, the new law protects an employee’s entitlement to leave if their immediate family member was killed “as a direct result of a crime.”

  1. Increased state minimum wage

One of the most anticipated employment laws in 2021 is the state minimum wage increase. Beginning Jan. 1, 2021, employers with 26 or more employees are required to pay their workers at least $14 per hour. Employers with 25 or fewer employees, meanwhile, cannot pay less than $13 per hour.

Contact an experienced Los Angeles employment law attorney to help you navigate all the changes to California’s employment law. Schedule a consultation with our lawyer at Litigation, P.C. to find out how the new laws affect your particular situation as an employer or employee in California. Call at 424-284-2401 to receive a consultation.

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