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PAYDAY Workforce Solutions Blog

California Employment Laws Taking Effect January 1, 2021

On Dec 16, 2020

Several new or amended employment laws take effect in California on January 1, 2021, including mandatory child abuse reporting, expanded crime victim leave, and increased minimum wages and exempt employee salaries.

Mandated Reporter Training

Employees who supervise and directly interact with minors, as well as "HR employees," have been added to California’s list of “mandated reporters.” However, these employees are only mandated reporters if the organization has five or more employees and employs at least one minor. Mandated reporters are obligated to report known or suspected child abuse and neglect, and/or sexual abuse, to any of several state or county agencies. Failure to report is a crime.

HR employees are defined as the employee or employees designated by the employer to accept any complaints of misconduct. This means that if your harassment or complaint policy directs employees to report acts of discrimination or harassment to their manager or supervisor, the CEO, a Board member, or any other non-HR person, that person is now a mandated reporter under the law.

Employers of these newly mandated reporters must provide them with training on identifying and reporting child abuse and neglect. The state provides compliant online trainings HERE. Time spent taking the training is considered hours worked and must be paid.

Employers must also collect a signed acknowledgment form related to these duties from each employee who is a mandated reporter. A template is available HERE.

The law does not say when the training must be completed, but since the duty to report takes effect immediately on January 1 and failure to report can have significant penalties, we would recommend training current employees as soon as possible and including this training as part of any new “HR employee” onboarding.

Crime Victim Leave

Previously, employers of all sizes were required to provide job-protected leave to victims of stalking, domestic violence, and sexual assault. That law has now been amended to include victims of any crime that caused physical or mental injury or a threat of physical injury. The law entitles employees who are victims to take time off from work to “obtain any relief.” This includes, but isn’t limited to, taking steps to ensure their or their child’s health, safety, or welfare, such as by trying to get a restraining order.

Employees are also entitled to leave if their family member has died because of a crime. For purposes of this law, “family member” includes children, parents, spouses, and siblings as well as anyone who has an equivalent close association with the employee. See the laws page in the HR Support Center for a full list of family members.

As with the current crime victim leave law, employers may require reasonable advance notice of the need for leave, if notice is feasible, and if the employee isn’t able to give advance notice, the employer can require documentation. However, the law now states that a signed statement from the employee that their absence was for a covered reason is acceptable documentation.

Finally, employers with 25 or more employees are now required to provide leave to all crime victims for reasons similar to those previously required only for sexual assault and domestic abuse victims (e.g., medical attention, counseling, safety planning).

Employers should update their policies to ensure these changes are incorporated.

California Family Rights Act Reminder

As we reported in September, significant amendments to the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) take effect on January 1. Most notably, CFRA will apply to employers with five or more employees.

CFRA requires covered employers to provide up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave to eligible employees for certain reasons, such as baby bonding. Additional details can be found on the HR Support Center by typing “CFRA” into the search bar.

Employers are required to post a notice about employees’ CFRA rights. A compliant notice will be provided by the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH), but it has not updated the current CFRA notice with the new information yet. We recommend checking the DFEH website periodically; we expect it will be available before January 1.

Pay Data Reporting

Beginning next year, employers with 100 or more employees will need to report pay data annually to the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH). The first deadline is March 31, 2021. The DFEH has created an extensive FAQ that is available HERE, and additional guidance will be provided by regulations released in the new year.

Minimum Wages and and Salaries

Statewide Minimum Wage
On January 1, California’s minimum wage will increase to $14 per hour for employers with 26 or more employees and $13 per hour for employers with 25 or fewer employees.

Exempt Employee Minimum Salaries and Wages
The minimum salary threshold for exempt employees will increase to $1,120 per week ($58,240 per year) for employers with 26 or more employees, and $1,040 per week ($54,080 per year) for employees with 25 or fewer employees.

The minimum rate for exempt computer software employees will increase to $47.48 per hour.

The minimum rate for exempt licensed physicians and surgeons paid on an hourly basis will increase to $86.49 per hour.

Local Minimum Wages
Click HERE to read our blog with a complete list of cities and counties that will have a minimum wage increase on January 1, 2020, that will differ from the state's minimum wage.

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