Governor Gavin Newsom signed numerous employment-related bills during the 2021 legislative session. This article provides an overview of key changes taking effect in the near term and highlights new compliance obligations affecting employers with California operations in the coming year.

Sequoia One clients are encouraged to reach out to their dedicated HR Business partner with any questions and to discuss updating their policies as necessary.

Regulation / Effective DateNew RequirementsEmployer Action Items
AB 654

COVID-19 Exposure Reporting

Effective October 5, 2021
• Builds on and clarifies AB 685, which was passed in 2020.
• Clarifies the Cal/OSHA exposure reporting time frame articulated by AB 685 from 48 hours to 48 hours or one business day, whichever is later. Practically, this provides a slight reporting timeframe reprieve.
• Changes to existing COVID-19 case reporting protocols. Rather than employers notifying “employees who may have been exposed” employers are now required to notify “all employees who were on the premises where there has been a confirmed case of COVID-19.” This includes notification to employers of subcontracted employees who were on the premises at the same worksite as the individual with a confirmed case.
• Employers should pay special attention to the law’s requirement to provide written notice to employees, their representatives, and employers of subcontracted employees who were on the premises at the same worksite as the qualifying individual within the infectious period.
• Employers should review their notification processes for compliance with the updates to the law.
Regulation / Effective DateNew RequirementsEmployer Action Items
AB 1033

Expansion of California Family Rights Act (“CFRA”) to Cover Parents-in-Law.

January 1, 2022
• Expands the definition of “family member” under CFRA to include parents-in law;
• Modifies procedural aspects of the new DFEH pilot program for mediating CFRA disputes that applies to small employers (between five and 19 employees).
• Employers already covered by CFRA should review and update their policies and procedures in light of the new provisions and expanded definition of “family members.”
• Employers should update internal human resources and leave administration personnel on the new expanded definition under CFRA.
Sequoia One Clients: Please work with your HR Business Partner to update your handbook policies, as needed.
Regulation / Effective DateNew RequirementsEmployer Action Items
AB 1003

Grand Theft for Intentional Failure to Pay Wages

January 1, 2022
• Makes an employer’s intentional wage theft of more than $950 from one employee, or $2,350 total from at least two employees, within a 12-month period, punishable as grand theft.
• This crime carries a potential prison sentence of up to three years. Employees or the Labor Commissioner can also seek redress under this bill through civil action.
• Enact internal policies to timely correct any payroll errors brought to attention;
• Ensure that overtime hours are paid at the correct regular rate of pay under California law;
Regulation / Effective DateNew RequirementsEmployer Action Items
SB 331

Silenced No More Act

January 1, 2022
• Expands existing coverage under the STAND (Stand Together Against Non-Disclosures) Act, (aka “Silenced No More Act”)
• The Act prohibits all California employers—in connection with lawsuits and administrative claims of sexual assault, harassment, discrimination or retaliation based on sex—from entering into settlements that prevent disclosure of factual information regarding sexual assault, sexual harassment, workplace harassment and discrimination based on sex, failure to prevent acts of workplace harassment or sex discrimination and/or retaliation for reporting sexual harassment or sex discrimination.
• Review and update any standardized terms in settlement agreements and consult with legal counsel for updates;
Regulation / Effective DateNew RequirementsEmployer Action Items
SB 606

Enhances Penalties for Workplace Safety Violations

January 1, 2022
• Extends Cal/OSHA’s scope of enforcement and creates two new categories of violations:
-“enterprise-wide” violations and
-“egregious” violations
• Provides Cal/OSHA with new subpoena power. This would allow Cal/OSHA to enforce a subpoena if the employer did not provide requested information within a reasonable amount of time.
• Employers should be aware of these expanded penalties and enforcement power provided to Cal-OSHA
Regulation / Effective DateNew RequirementsEmployer Action Items
SB 657

Electronic Posting of Workplace Notices

January 1, 2022
• Permits the electronic distribution of workplace notices employers are required to physically post under California law; however, electronic notice may only serve to supplement the physical posting, not replace it• While electronic distribution and posting is permitted, employers with physical worksite are still required to physically post all required labor and employment posters at their worksite.
Regulation / Effective DateNew RequirementsEmployer Action Items
SB 807

Procedural Changes to Department of Fair Employment & Housing (DFEH) & Expansion of Employer Record Retention Requirements

January 1, 2022
• Extends the current requirement for retaining employee personnel records from two to four years.
• Provides for tolling of the statute of limitations while the DFEH investigates complaints of unlawful actions;
• Updates the counties in which the DFEH is able to file a petition to compel compliance with its investigation.
• Review and update internal policies to reflect the longer record retention period and train internal employees responsible for record retention.

Additional Resources

Disclaimer: This content is intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal, medical or tax advice. It provides general information and is not intended to encompass all compliance and legal obligations that may be applicable. This information and any questions as to your specific circumstances should be reviewed with your respective legal counsel and/or tax advisor as we do not provide legal or tax advice. Please note that this information may be subject to change based on legislative changes. © 2021 Sequoia Benefits & Insurance Services, LLC. All Rights Reserved

Lizet Ramirez — Lizet is a Client Compliance Manager for Sequoia One, where she works with our clients to optimize and streamline benefits compliance. In her free time, Lizet enjoys live music, travel, hiking and spa days.