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January 14, 2016 by

This legislative session Governor Brown again signed into law several new labor and employment statutes.  Many of the new laws this year expand enforcement tools and strengthen existing protections for employees in areas including leave and disability rights, pay equity, wage and hour protections, and prevailing wage and public works.  In this series of seven articles, we have summarized the new state laws by category.

SB 546 – Health Care Coverage

This important legislation, sponsored by the California Labor Federation and several California unions, is intended to protect large employers, union trust funds and workers from unjustified increases in the cost of health care benefits.  This new law requires health plans and insurers that sell to large employers to file detailed data with state regulators for all rate increases.  The law will also require an annual public meeting by each regulator regarding large group rate changes.  The bill will also require prior approval of rate changes under certain circumstances, including if the rate increase is higher than the average rate increase for Covered California or CalPERS or if the rate increase will trigger an excise tax imposed by the ACA for the purchaser.

AB 304 – Paid Sick Leave Amendments

California’s Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014, provides up to three days of paid sick leave each year to eligible employees.  Employees are entitled to accrue paid sick leave at a rate of one hour for every 30 hours worked, but the accrued time cannot be used before the employee’s 90th day of employment.   This bill makes minor amendments to the sick leave law to require that the employee work for the same employer to qualify for accrued sick leave and allows the employer the flexibility to use other accrual schemes as long as the employee accrues 24 hours of sick leave by the 120th calendar day of employment.  Although an employee can accrue more than three days of sick leave in a year, the Employer can cap the amount of sick leave used to three days in each year of employment, a calendar year, or a 12-month period.   In addition, this amendment provides that the employer has no obligation to inquire into or record the purposes for which an employee uses sick leave.

AB 583 – Leave Protection for National Guard

AB 583 improves the job protections available to members of the National Guard who are ordered into active service.  Current law entitles National Guard members to return to their former position or to a position of similar seniority, status, and pay without losing his or her retirement or other benefits.  This is required unless the employer’s circumstances have changed so much that it is impossible or unreasonable for the employer to accommodate the employee.  The law also prohibits the employer from terminating the member, without cause, for a year after the member returns to work.  AB 583, now applies these protections to members of the National Guard of states other than California if the member leaves private employment in California.

AB 1245 – E-Transmission of UI

Existing law requires an employer to file a report of contributions, a quarterly return of wages paid, and an annual reconciliation return to the Director of Employment Development and to make contributions for unemployment insurance premiums.  Beginning Jan 1, 2017 employers with 10 or more employees will be required to file these reports and returns electronically, and remit all contributions for unemployment insurance premiums by electronic funds transfer.  Beginning Jan 1, 2018 this electronic-filing requirement will apply to all employers.  Employers who do not comply will be subject to a penalty.  In addition, beginning Jan 1, 2017 employers subject to these requirements will also be required to remit withheld income taxes by electronic funds transfer.

SB 221 – Sick leave for Disabled Veterans Who Are State Employees

This law, also called the “California Wounded Warriors Transitional Leave Act,” grants a state officer or employee who is a military veteran hired on or after Jan 1, 2016, with a military service-connected disability rated at 30% or more by the Department of Veterans Affairs an additional credit of paid sick leave of up to 96 hours, for the purpose of undergoing medical treatment for his or her military service-related disability.

SB 579 – Leave Time for Child Care Enrollment

Expands California’s School Activities Leave, Labor Code § 230.8, to include job-protected time off work to include, finding and enrolling a child in school or child care provider as well as for addressing a child care provider or school emergency.  Modifies the existing kin care law, Labor Code 233, to align with the California Sick Leave Law in defining family member to include grandparents, grandchildren and siblings and expands the reasons for leave to include all those for which leave could be taken under California’s Sick Leave Law.

SB 667 – Disability Insurance

Under existing law, a disabled individual is eligible to receive disability benefits for each full day during which he or she is unemployed due to a disability but only after a 7-day waiting period.  This bill waives all additional 7-day waiting periods for an individual who has already served the waiting period with the initial claim and files a subsequent claim for the same or related condition within 60 days after the initial disability benefit period.  The bill extends the “disability benefit period” from 14 to 60 days.

The material on this website is provided by Beeson, Tayer & Bodine for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Readers should consult with their own legal counsel before acting on any of the information presented. Some of the articles are updated periodically, and are marked with the date of the last update. Again, readers should consult with their own legal counsel for the most current information and to obtain professional advice before acting on any of the information presented.