Society at large has experienced many changes in the last couple of years. Most of these changes have taken place throughout businesses everywhere, including California, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Mask mandates, quarantine, and full shutdowns have impacted businesses in a variety of ways. In response to the pandemic, California has passed new employment laws that business owners should be aware of.

Changes in California Employment Law

Most of California’s employment laws have been in place, in one form or fashion, for many years. The COVID-19 pandemic, however, has forced the state to modify several of these statutes. The following changes to California’s employment laws were made in response to the COVID-19 pandemic:

Paid Leave

The state legislature in California passed five laws relating to paid leave due to COVID-19. The following are the five laws regarding COVID-related leave:

  • California Family Rights Act (CFRA)
  • Labor Code § 246
  • Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)
  • Expansions to the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
  • COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave (CSPSL)

The CFRA and Labor Code § 246 have been on the books for several years, while the others were passed in April of 2020. The FFCRA and FMLA are federal laws, and they only apply to companies with less than 500 employees. In response, California then passed the CSPSL so that these federal statutes applied to all employees.

The applicability of these laws depends on the employee and the situation. Compensation is dependent on the reason the employee is taking leave (i.e., COVID-19 diagnosis, quarantine, caring for a person who is COVID-19 positive) and if they are paid hourly or are salaried.

Assembly Bill 685

Governor Newsom passed Assembly Bill 685, effective January 1, 2021. This bill contained the following changes in response to COVID-19:

  • Employer Reporting Requirements: Employers are required to report a COVID-19 outbreak within forty-eight hours.
  • Employee Notification: Employers must provide notice to employees of potential exposure within one business day.
  • COVID-19 Prevention: Employers must have a written COVID-19 prevention plan in place.

The Prevention provision includes its own set of requirements. These requirements include providing a system for communicating information to employees, identifying, and investigating hazards, social distancing guidelines, and requiring face coverings and ensuring their use.

Return to Work Requirements

As part of new requirements for OSHA, California has put in place several new requirements for an employee returning to work after experiencing COVID-19 symptoms. The new rules include:

  • Employees with a positive COVID-19 test or symptoms cannot return to work until symptoms improve, or at least until ten days have passed since symptoms appeared.
  • A person with a positive test with no symptoms must wait ten days before returning to work.
  • There is a fourteen-day post-quarantine order.

Further, if a person receives a negative COVID-19 test, they have no return to work restrictions.

Contact a Lawyer at Blackstone Law to Discuss Whether the New Employment Laws Will Affect Your Business

The changes in employment laws mostly affect the workforce of certain types of businesses. If your business is in the retail or service sector, you likely have seen a seismic shift in both how people work for you and how your customer base interacts with you. You should follow the new guidelines because they are in place to make sure that your business can continue to operate.

Our team at Blackstone Law is well aware of how COVID-19 has impacted businesses and workers. If you would like to discuss how the changes to California’s employment laws will affect your business, you may contact us through our website or call us at (310) 956-4054.