The new year always brings changes. This is especially true when it comes to legislation. The California Legislature typically selects January 1st as a convenient date for new laws to go into effect. Over the past year, the state government has focused on workers’ rights laws, approving many bills that will impact employers and employees alike.
That means that workers like you will be affected by several new laws in just a few weeks. Here’s what you need to know about these bills and how they may affect you.
Tip Distribution for Food Delivery Employees
To start with a relatively small but impactful change, AB 286 requires all “food delivery platforms” such as UberEats and Grubhub to give delivery workers all the money designated as tips by their customers. Previously, these platforms would reserve a portion of the gratuity for themselves. However, in the future, 100% of any tip for delivery orders must go to the delivery worker, and gratuities on pick-up orders must go to the restaurant. This will significantly increase tip income for workers in these industries.
The California Family Rights Act (CFRA) is being expanded under AB 1033. This bill adds parents-in-law to the covered family members that employees can care for on CFRA leave. This means that if your spouse’s parents are sick, you can take family leave to care for them without risking your job. You don’t need to force your spouse to handle everything on their own.
New COVID-19 Reporting Requirements
AB 654 expands the conditions under which employers need to report COVID-19 exposures. Businesses must give notice to both local public health agencies and employees within 48 hours or one business day, whichever is longer.
However, it also exempts more licensed entities. For instance, child daycare facilities, community clinics, and community care facilities no longer need to report these outbreaks because of their status as health facilities.
Criminalization of Wage Theft
The law AB 1003 will impact many workers by making wage theft a type of criminal theft. Stealing employee wages has been banned for years, but it has not been considered criminal.
As of January 1st, employers who intentionally steal wages or tips of more than $950 from one employee or $2350 from two or more employees in one 12-month period will be committing grand theft. Furthermore, the bill considered independent contractors as employees, giving these workers leverage to pursue restitution.
Limits on Non-Disclosures in Settlements
Last but not least, the Silenced No More Act, also known as SB 331, will begin prohibiting non-disclosure provisions in workplace harassment and discrimination settlements. Previously, settlements for these cases would often include non-disclosure clauses that prevent the plaintiffs from talking about their experiences or the settlement results. By banning these clauses, the Act permits workers to discuss their experiences and potentially reduce cultures of harassment and discrimination while still receiving settlements.
Prepare for Better Work Environments
All of these bills are built to make the workplace safer and more hospitable for workers. Whether you’re an independent contractor, a delivery worker, or any of the tens of thousands of workers to whom the CFRA applies, the new year is bringing positive change. By knowing these new laws, you’ll be better prepared to stand up for yourself and decide whether it’s time to get legal help.