California’s Governor Signs Several Bills Causing Bold Changes to Employee Leaves

DMEC StaffLegislative Updates

California’s Governor Signs Several Bills Causing Bold Changes to Employee Leaves

Cepideh Roufougar

Jackson Lewis P.C.

California wrapped up its 2020 Legislative Session with the Governor passing several bills that bring dramatic changes to employee leave requirements.

One of the first bills signed was Assembly Bill 1867, the statewide COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave. AB 1867 fills in some of the exceptions contained in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act and provides up to 80 hours of paid leave to full-time employees. Part-time employees and those who work on a variable schedule receive pro-rated benefits. Prior to the passage of AB 1867, several cities and counties had passed local ordinances providing supplemental sick leave for COVID-19 purposes. AB 1867 accounts for these local ordinances and provides for credits for leave provided under these ordinances. AB 1867 also codified an earlier Executive Order which provided food sector workers with COVID-related leave.

The Governor signed Senate Bill 1383 which expanded the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) to apply to employers employing five (5) or more employees. The CFRA, similar to the Family Medical Leave Act, previously authorized eligible employees of employers with 50 or more employees to take up to 12 weeks of job-protected leave. SB 1383 also lists additional reasons for which CFRA leave is available. Beginning Jan. 1, 2021, employees may use CFRA leave to take time off to care for a grandparent, grandchild, or sibling with a serious health condition or because of a qualifying exigency related to the employee’s call to active duty or the call to active duty for certain family members in the Armed Forces. Currently leave is only available for the employee’s own serious health condition, to care for a parent, spouse, domestic partner, or child with a serious health condition and to bond with a new child. To complement this expansion of the CFRA, Assembly Bill 2399, adds qualifying exigency leave as a reason for receiving wage replacement benefits from the California Paid Family Leave Program (employees are currently eligible to receive wage replacements benefits if they were on an approved leave to care for a grandparent, grandchild, or sibling).

The Governor also signed Assembly Bill 2992, which imposes further limitations on employers from discharging, discriminating, or retaliating against an employee who is a victim of crime or abuse. Before the passage of this legislation, under Labor Code section 230, employers were eligible to take time off if they or an immediate family member were a victim of certain violent crimes or felonies. AB 2992 expands the types of crimes that may qualify an employee for leave to include those which caused a physical or mental injury, or a threat of physical injury, regardless of whether any person is arrested for, prosecuted for, or convicted of, committing the crime.

Employers with workforces in California should review their current policies that may be affected by these changes, especially with respect to the new supplemental paid sick leave, as that was an urgency ordinance that went into effect for non-food sector workers on Sep. 19, 2020. All other bills go into effect on Jan. 1, 2021.

***This article originally appeared on the Jackson Lewis’ Disability, Leave & Health Management blog and was reposted on the DMEC website with their permission.***