Here are some of the new California employment laws that are set to go into effect in 2022:
COVID-19 and Other Health and Safety Laws and Regulations
Cal/OSHA's Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS), which applies to employers of 100 or more employees, was renewed on December 16, 2021, and will incorporate the following changes:
Employers must provide no-cost COVID19 testing during paid time to all employees who are exposed to COVID-19 at work.
Employees who are exempt from face covering requirements due to medical or health conditions and who cannot wear other non-restrictive alternative coverings must physically distance from other employees (at least six feet) and be tested at least twice a week at no cost and during paid time.
Employees who have close contact with a COVID-19 case and are not excluded from work because they are asymptomatic and either fully vaccinated or recently recovered from COVID-19 will have to both wear a face covering and physically distance at the workplace for 14 days following a close contact.
Employees who are excluded form work after a close contact, never develop symptoms, and test negative at least five days after the last known close contact may return to work after seven days, provided they wear a face covering and physically distance for 14 days following the last close contact.
California Family Rights Act
Assembly Bill 1033 adds the term "parent-in-law" to the list of family members for whose care an employee may take a leave of absence from work under the California Family Rights Act.
Prohibition of Confidentiality Clauses in Settlement Agreements
Effective January 1, 2022, settlement agreements related to allegations of harassment or discrimination based on all protected classes (e.g. race, gender, ethnicity, age, disability, religion) can no longer include confidentiality clauses. The new law, however, retains the provision that allows the settlement amount to be subject to confidentiality.
State Minimum Wage Increase
Effective January 1, 2022, California's minimum wage increases to $15 per hour for employers of 26 or more employees, and $14 per hour for employers of 25 or fewer employees. It's important to note that various cities in California have incorporated their own minimum wage laws which are greater than what's required by the state.
Expansion of Criminal Penalties for Wage Theft
Under existing law, an employer commits grand theft when they take the money, labor, or real or personal property of another in excess of $950. Assembly Bill 1003 makes the intentional theft of wages, including gratuities, in an amount grater than $950 from any one employer, or $2,350 in the aggregate from two or more employees punishable as grand theft. For purposes of this law, independent contractors are included within the meaning of employee, and entities who hire independent contractors are included within the meaning of employer.