In Episode 135 of The Workplace podcast, CalChamber employment law expert Matthew Roberts and CalChamber policy advocate Ashley Hoffman discuss five new labor laws that employers will see in 2022: AB 1033, SB 62, AB 1003, AB 701 and SB 606.
The new year is only months away, so it’s time for California employers to get ready for the new laws that will take effect in 2022, Roberts tells podcast listeners.
One of the new laws that takes effect in the new year is CalChamber-sponsored legislation, AB 1033, which establishes a more practical, streamlined procedure for implementing the small employer family leave mediation program established in 2020 by AB 1867 and fixes a drafting error in SB 1383. The bill also clarifies the definition of “parent-in-law” because the term was not included in SB 1383’s operative language, leading to much confusion among employers, Hoffman explains.
SB 62 specifically targets the garment manufacturing industry and has two main pieces, Hoffman says. First, the bill eliminates a piece rate method of payment. It has always been illegal to pay garment workers below the minimum wage but removing the piece rate may be a way to help catch dishonest employers who are underpaying workers.
The CalChamber, Hoffman says, did not take issue with this first piece of the bill. Rather, the CalChamber’s focus during the legislative process centered around SB 62’s second component: making honest businesses in the supply chain jointly liable for the wage violations of dishonest employers. Companies in the garment industry will need to be very careful and look at who’s doing the manufacturing of their products, Hoffman warns.
Another new wage-and-hour law coming is AB 1003, which some employers have expressed fear about as it is thought that it turns wage theft into a crime, Roberts says.
Intentionally withholding someone’s wages is already a crime, Hoffman points out. The CalChamber initially labeled AB 1003 a job killer bill, but later changed its position to “neutral” due to amendments done in the Assembly Public Safety Committee that narrowed the application of the bill to criminalize only fraudulent and knowingly unlawful conduct by bad actors.
This means that AB 1003 is not going to affect good faith employers attempting to do the right thing; rather, this law is meant for those employers who are not paying proper wages, know they’re not paying it and refuse to do so.
Roberts advises that employers concerned with wage-and-hour practices should consult with their legal counsel and conduct wage-and-hour audits to ensure they’re not running afoul of these rules.
Another industry-specific bill that was passed this year is AB 701, which focuses on warehouse employers who use a quota system, Roberts says.
The law, Hoffman explains, is limited in scope and applies to employers with 100 or more employees at a single warehouse unit, or employers with 1,000 or more employees at one or more distribution centers in California.
Starting in 2022, warehouse employers must report their use of quotas, and give workers ample time to comply with health and safety laws, and use of restroom facilities. The goal, Hoffman says, is to prevent employees from working so hard that they put themselves in physical harm.
The last new law Roberts and Hoffman discuss is SB 606.
The bill arose out of the COVID-19 pandemic and focuses on employers who violate health and safety laws. It imposes an enterprise-wide violation presumption, meaning that if an employer’s policy or pattern of practice violates a health and safety law at one worksite, it will be assumed the employer is violating the law at every one of the company’s worksites, Hoffman explains.
This law, she says, is trying to curb the conduct of those employers who have not made attempts to comply with health ordinances and laws.
Hoffman and Roberts anticipate that legislators will continue to target specific industries in next year’s legislative session, but will also look at laws that will affect all employers, such as further expanding leave laws and granting more paid sick leave days. If the pandemic wanes next year, employers can expect to see more general employment law bills come back up.