New California employment legislation for 2021

A number of new California employment laws often take effect the first of the year. Below are a few highlighted laws that organizations with employees in California should be aware of and prepared for as they become effective January 1, 2021.

SB 1383 – Expanded California Family Rights Act (CFRA).

  • Changes for small employers: Beginning January 1, 2021, the CFRA will now cover employers with five or more employees. The current CFRA covers employers with 50 or more employees.
    • A related law, the New Parent Leave Act (NPLA), provides “baby bonding leave” for employees working for employers with between 20 and 49 employees. The new CFRA law will essentially absorb the NPLA, providing full CFRA rights for all employees working for employers of 5 or more employees.  
  • Changes for all employers: SB 1383 also expands the definition of “family member” under the CFRA. Family members now include grandchildren, grandparents, siblings, and parents-in-law.  
  • CFRA/FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act) Interplay: The federal FMLA law does not include the expanded family member designations, therefore, it will be possible in 2021 for employees to take 12 weeks of CFRA leave to care for a grandparent (or any of the expanded family member designations under the CFRA), and then take another 12 weeks to care for a child (or any of the designations under the FMLA definition for family member that do not coincide with the expanded CFRA designations).

AB 2017 – Kin Care clarification.

  • In an effort to prevent employers from erroneously designating Paid Sick Leave (PSL) as kin care, and thus depleting an employees kin care allowance, this new law makes the designation of PSL for personal illness or kin care at the sole discretion of the employee.  

SB 778 – Sexual Harassment Training for small employers.

  • The expanded sexual harassment training regulations of 2020 required employers to provide one hour of sexual harassment training to all employees, and two hours for members of management, with retaining provisions every two years. SB 778 extended the deadline for small business employers until January 1, 2021.

AB 1947 – Extends time an individual can file a complaint of discrimination to one year.

AB 685 – Strict COVID-19 reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

AB 2992 – Additional protections to prevent discrimination against employees who are victims of crime.

Feel free to contact Morrison’s People Solutions for guidance in the practical administration of California employment law. Morrison can also provide Human Resources law and best practices audits.  

About the Author

Shawn Miller is a principal at Morrison working primarily in our People Solutions practice. To get in touch with Shawn, please find contact information for Morrison here.


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