California Employment Laws in 2021: Know Your Rights

employment laws in california

The pandemic and focus on social issues in 2020 brought to light many holes in worker protections nationwide.

The state legislature updated California employee laws to shift focus to greater worker protections.

This article explores some of the more important updates to California employment law.

Minimum Wage

California minimum wage increases to $15.00 by the end of 2021, a change that will happen in phases.

The minimum wage for companies that have at least 26 employees is now $14.00 per hour. Smaller companies must pay their employees $13.00 an hour.

The minimum salary for executive, administrative, and professional exempt employees for businesses with at least 26 employees is now $58,240, and for smaller businesses, it is $54,080.

These exempt employees receive at least double the minimum wage and fulfill certain job responsibilities.

Independent Contractor Status

California employee law strengthened the test to determine whether a worker is an independent contractor or an employee.

The burden is on the employer to show that a worker is not an employee by proving all of three prongs of the “ABC” test established in the Dynamex case.

The ABC test analyzes various conditions of employment to determine the status of a worker.

Coronavirus Exposure

Employers must notify employees in writing within 24 hours of an outbreak or suffer severe penalties. They must also notify the local health agency within 48 hours.

Workers who contract COVID-19 are presumed to have been infected while on the job and entitled to workers’ compensation benefits in the form of two weeks of paid sick leave.

This law applies only to workers in a company-controlled space (not remote), and employers may rebut this presumption.

Family Leave Extensions

Employers with at least five employees must now provide up to 12 workweeks of unpaid leave and job protection for workers to take medical leave. The threshold used to be at least 50 employees.

The California Family Rights Act now also includes more reasons to allow family or medical leave, such as allowing employees to take leave to care for immediate family members.

Time Off

California employees may use at least half of their accrued sick leave to care for immediate family. Crime victims may take time to seek care related to the crime or abuse, such as medical attention or mental health services.

Pay Data Reporting

Employers with at least 100 employees must now annually report pay data. They must report employees’ pay, race, gender, age, sex, culture, and job category.

The idea behind this law is to prevent or expose pay inequalities and discrimination.

Board Member Diversity

Corporate boards must have at least one non-white member by the end of 2021.

By 2023, boards between five and eight members must have two from underrepresented groups. Corporations with at least nine directors must have three directors from underrepresented groups.

The idea behind this new requirement is that more diverse boards will better allow companies to conduct their business in a way that considers different perspectives in society.

Starpoint Employment Lawyers Can Handle Any of Your California Employment Law Concerns

If you have questions about the new changes to these or any other California employee laws or you think that your employer violated your rights, you should call Starpoint Employment Lawyers.

We understand your rights and will give your case the attention it deserves. Our experience includes disability discrimination, sexual harassment, wrongful termination, and many other fields of employment law.

Contact Starpoint Employment Lawyers today to schedule your consultation.      

Author Photo

Aidin Ghavimi

Aidin is a partner at Starpoint LC, Attorneys at Law, and focuses on personal injury cases in and around Southern California. He earned his Juris Doctorate from Loyola School of Law and his Bachelor’s from USC. Aidin’s primary goal is to bring justice to his clients and to ensure they are able to move on with their lives after a serious injury.

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