The California construction laws are regulations designed to protect homeowners and workers. These laws are updated yearly to accommodate the latest technologies and industry standards.

The reason behind the stricter laws is to reduce the number of injuries and fatalities that happen on construction sites. These laws ensure that construction workers are safe while working on-site in California.

Gavin Newsom, the governor of California, signed dozens of measures into law in 2021 brought to him by the majority in the congress of Democrats in the legislature, many of which had significant implications for Californians.

Here is a rundown of 9 new laws that became effective in 2022, most of which were passed by MPs during the most recent session.

Importance of California Construction Laws

When involved in a building conflict or issue regarding construction faults, construction law can be an area of the law that is undeniably difficult. Still, it is also a crucial area of law to grasp. All sides must understand construction law well when contending with a construction dispute.

Numerous parties may be involved in a construction dispute, and they all must have a working knowledge of and comprehension of construction law.

Owning a warehouse, shop, or any other type of commercial property necessitates hiring a reputable attorney. When you are constructing a business facility, a construction lawyer is responsible for helping you through the laws and regulations. Bohm Wildish & Matsen, LLP is a law firm that can necessitate you in your construction defect laws.

The law based around construction encompasses all forms of construction activities. This means that every stage of the process, from original zoning to enforcing occupational safety laws after a building's construction, is affected by construction legislation. Numerous laws and regulations must be appropriately followed because installation requires substantial preparation, investment, and workforce. This is done to maintain safety and the building's ability to perform its intended functions.

California Construction Laws from 2021-2022

The following section discusses a few new pieces of legislation impacting how California employers conduct business daily. Unless otherwise specified, some have come into force since January 2022, and some will come into force from January 2023.

A.B. 685- COVID-19 Infection Prevention Requirements (Effective January 1, 2023)

The most recent amendment to this law addresses COVID-19. Employers must provide written notice to employees as per the law. The clause also allows CalOSHA to prohibit access to a location or piece of equipment if it is unsafe. On January 1, 2023, this AB 685 clause is scheduled to be abolished.

  • Employers must inform all workers on a worksite of any potential exposures, COVID-19-related advantages and protections, and any cleaning or safety precautions that will be implemented due to the potential exposure.
  • Workplace outbreaks, classified as three or more laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19 among workers who reside in various homes within two weeks, must be reported by employers to local public health agencies.
  • From January 1, 2021, to January 1, 2023, Cal/OSHA may issue an Order Prohibiting Use (OPU) to close a whole worksite or a particular sector of a worksite that puts employees in danger of an impending COVID-19 hazard.
  • From January 1, 2021, to January 1, 2023, Cal/OSHA will not need to give employers a 15-day warning before issuing citations for major COVID-19 infractions.

A.B. 1023 - Electronic Records for Contractors and Subcontractors (Effective January 1, 2022)

As stated in Labor Code Section 1771.4, A.B. 1023 now modifies the obligation for contractors or subcontractors to provide records "weekly." The law defines the term "monthly" as being made no less frequently than once every 30 days while work is being carried out on the project and no later than 30 days after the last day of work.

Additionally, it is now necessary for contractors and subcontractors to provide specific data electronically following the instructions on the website of the Labor Commissioner.

According to the law, a contractor or subcontractor that neglects to provide employment records is now subject to a fine of $100 per day, with a maximum of $5,000 per project.

Before any penalties are assessed, contractors and subcontractors are given a 14-day grace period following the deadline for record submission. Only the actual contractor or subcontractor who neglected to provide records is subject to penalties under this clause.

S.B. 1159 - Workers' Compensation Presumption (Effective January 1, 2022)

The COVID-19 presumption established by Executive Order N-62-20 is codified by California Senate Bill 1159. This also offers two new arbitrability assumptions that an employee's illness connected to COVID-19 is an occupational injury and is thus qualified for workers' compensation benefits if specific requirements are met.

This bill, which qualifies as emergency legislation, went into effect immediately, retroactively to July 6, 2020, and is in force until January 1, 2023. The presumption no longer holds if an employee contracts a disease or passes away due to COVID-19 after January 1, 2023, and the case will be handled following the standard workers' compensation procedure.

Employees who sustain an injury while doing their duties are typically entitled to workers' compensation benefits. Existing law establishes a list of particular illnesses and injuries that are assumed to be "industrial" in nature and develops a rebuttable presumption that will meet the criteria for workers' compensation benefits right away.

However, unless an employer can present sufficient evidence to show that the illness or injury is not industrial, this will not happen. Due to the particular difficulties posed by COVID-19, SB1159 now establishes a similar presumption for the sickness or death of COVID-19.

S.B. 727 - Direct Contractor Liability on Private Works (Effective January 1, 2022)

According to the current Labor Code § 218.7, direct contractors (as defined) are responsible for any unpaid salaries and benefits of their workers under private construction contracts if the subcontractor refuses to do so.

Any subcontractor at any level of subcontractors who performs work related to the agreement is accountable for any salaries and benefits owed. The primary contractor was not subject to further liabilities for fines or financial penalties under this edition of the statute.

For contracts signed on or after January 1, 2022, S.B. 727 amends the law to enforce joint liability for a specific contractor for penalties and punitive damages.

This includes the responsibility for a subcontractor's inability to pay into the California Unemployment Insurance Fund or before workers' compensation benefits and interest owed. The limitation of liability cannot apply to contracts entered into on or after January 1, 2022, as provided in this bill.

A.B. 1551 - Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program (Effective January 1, 2022)

This statute, also known as the Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) programme, is crucial for anyone looking to construct any renewable energy system or program to improve the effectiveness of other elements, such as seismic retrofits or water management systems.

To motivate more individuals to use clean energy in their homes, it was implemented in 2010 to assist homeowners with financing the installation of renewable energy technologies. The PACE Financing Estimate and Disclosure must be sent to the property owner in physical copy, according to the most recent legal amendments.

S.B. 572 - Enforcement Liens on Real Property (Effective January 1, 2022)

The Labor Code is expanded by SB 572 to include Section 90.8, which allows the Labor Commissioner to place a lien on real estate to protect any unpaid sums owed under any final citations, outcomes, or judgments relating to employee complaints about the wage payments and other employment-related concerns, including but not restricted to the nonpayment of wages, extra hours, or paid holidays.

A lien would last 10 years after the day it was created until it was paid in full or released, and it might be extended a further 10 years before it expired.

S.B. 807 - Retention Period of Employee Personnel Records (Effective January 1, 2022)

With the passage of this legislation, the current period that personnel records must be kept after being created, terminated, or rejected for employment for a candidate would increase from two to four years.

The employer must keep the personnel records in question if a complaint has been made to the Department of Fair Employment and Housing until either the first date after the statute of limitations for bringing a civil action has passed or the employer receives notice that the action has been fully resolved.

The DFEH's enforcement guidelines are modified by SB 807 in several ways, including allowing electronic service of institutional complaints.

This widens the two-year deadline for the DFEH to finish its investigation of group or class discrimination lawsuits before releasing a right-to-sue letter and allowing the filing of group or class discrimination statements in any county in California.

A.B. 1003 - Employer Wage Theft (Effective January 1, 2022)

A.B. 1003 amends the California Penal Code by adding section 487m, which defines grand theft as the deliberate theft of earnings, benefits, or compensation worth more than $950 for one worker and more than $2,350 for two or more workers in a single 12-month period. Prosecutors may charge grand theft as a misdemeanor or felony.

Minimum Wage Increase (Effective January 1. 2022)

California enacted legislation in 2016 to raise the state's minimum wage to $15 per hour. According to the bill's terms, California's minimum wage rose to $13.00 per hour for businesses with 25 or fewer employees and $14 per hour for companies with 26 or more employees beginning on January 1, 2021.

Other California employment compliance areas connected to the state minimum wage are affected by the change in the minimum wage in a cascading manner.

The existence of "premium" salary rates in the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) is a requirement for many of the exemptions granted to construction businesses that have signed it.

The Takeaway!

The attorneys at Bohm Wildin & Matsen, LLP provide professional strategy implementation for any area of California construction laws by Utilizing their breadth of experience in construction counsel and litigation.

Our seasoned contractor attorneys have a wealth of expertise and practical experience in construction contracts, bid enforcement, claim filing, adherence form completion, and advising industry professionals.

We collaborate with all parties in the construction sector, including apartments, commercial, condominiums, developments, housing and construction defects, litigation, mold, and single-family custom.

Originally published 27 Oct, 2022

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.