The California Legislature has a record number of proposed bills under consideration, including several employment-related proposals that employers should be cognizant of.

Some of the pending legislation includes:

  • Expansion of paid sick leave. Pursuant to Senate Bill 616, California employees would be entitled to seven days, or 56 hours, of mandatory paid sick leave on an annual basis, more than double the current three days or 24 hours. Sick leave accrual thresholds would also increase from 48 hours or six days, to 112 hours or 14 days.
  • Return-to-work notice. With an amendment to the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), Senate Bill 731 would make it an unlawful employment practice for an employer to fail to provide an employee who is working from home pursuant to an agreement with, or policy of, the employer with at least 30 days' notice before mandating a return to work in person. At a minimum, the notice must include the following text: "You have the right to ask your employer to allow you to continue working remotely as an accommodation if you have a disability. Your employer is required to engage in a timely, good faith, interactive process to determine if there are effective reasonable accommodations for your disability, including working remotely. If you are able to perform all of your essential job functions while working remotely, your employer must grant your request unless it would create an undue hardship for your employer, an alternative reasonable accommodation is available, or you do not meet the definition of disability under the law."
  • Family caregiver protections. Family caregiver status would be added as a protected class under FEHA as set forth in the Family Caregiver Antidiscrimination Act, or Assembly Bill 524. "Family caregiver status" is defined as "a person who contributes to the care of one or more family members," which means "a spouse, child, parent, sibling, grandparent, grandchild, domestic partner, or any other individual related by blood or whose association with the employee is the equivalent of a family relationship."
  • Restrictions on the use of criminal history. The Fair Chance Act would make it an unlawful employment practice to take adverse action against an employee or applicant based on arrest or conviction history, as well as end an interview, reject an application or otherwise terminate the employment application process based on conviction history information provided by any source unless it "has a direct and adverse relationship with one or more specific duties of the job documented." If an employer initially determines that an employee's or applicant's conviction history disqualifies them, Senate Bill 809 requires a specific individualized assessment, notice and response process that employers must follow.

Why it matters: Lawmakers have until June 2 to get legislation passed in each house, so California employers should keep an eye on the employment-related legislation under consideration.

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