Governor Newsom has signed a number of workplace laws that take effect on January 1, 2022. Here’s a rundown on key provisions:

California Family Rights Act

AB 1033 expands the list of family members for which employees may take leave under the California Family Rights Act (CFRA). In particular, the law provides that employees may take CFRA leave to care for a parent-in-law with a serious health condition. This follows on last year’s legislation that expanded CFRA to cover employers with just five employees (down from 50) and also expanded the family members for whom leave can be used.

Confidentiality and Nondisparagement Provisions

SB 331 imposes a number of new restrictions on employment settlement, separation, and nondisclosure agreements. See our detailed blog post on this new law.

Personnel Records Retention

SB 807 requires employers to retain personnel records for applicants and employees for four years from the date the record was created or the employment action was taken. The law previously specified a two-year retention period.

Wage Theft

AB 1003 provides that an employer’s “theft of wages” (including tips, benefits, and other compensation) in an amount greater than $950 from one employee or $2,350 in the aggregate from two or more employees, within a 12-month period, may be punished as grand theft. “Theft of wages” means the employer intentionally withheld wages that it knew was due to the employee. Independent contractors are considered employees for purposes of this law.

Warehouse Distribution Center Quotas

AB 701 prohibits certain employers that run warehouse distribution centers from requiring non-exempt employees to meet quotas that would interfere with meal or rest period compliance, use of restrooms (including reasonable travel time to/from the restroom), or health and safety laws. Covered employers will be required to provide employees, at time of hire or no later than January 31, 2022, with a written description of any quotas, to include the quantified number of tasks to be performed or materials to be produced or handled, within the defined time period, and any potential adverse action that could be imposed for failure to meet quotas. Also, employees who believe that quotas are interfering with their break periods or require them to violate any occupational health and safety law or standard can request a copy of applicable quotas and the last 90 days of their personal “work speed data,” which the employer must produce within 21 calendar days. The law creates a rebuttable presumption of retaliation if the employer takes adverse action against an employee within 90 days of an employee’s request for quota information or the employee filing a complaint about a quota. The law covers establishments as defined by these NAIS codes: 493110, General Warehousing and Storage; 423, Merchant Wholesalers, Durable Goods; 424, Merchant Wholesalers, Nondurable Goods; and 454110, Electronic Shopping and Mail-Order Houses.

Workplace Posters and Notices

SB 657 provides some relief to employers with remote workers by specifying that any notice that must be posted in the workplace may also be sent to employees as an attachment to an email. Notably, this provision does not remove the obligation to also physically display required posters in the workplace.

Getting Ready

In light of these new laws, employers with workers in California should review their policies and procedures and make any necessary updates to ensure compliance for the new year.