Employment Changes Continue in California Amid Pandemic

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As the COVID-19 pandemic continues its impact, California’s response continues to change, which, in turn, keeps employers having to adjust on the fly. California’s legislature recently made a flurry of changes that business should be aware, not all of which are just pandemic related.

Apart from COVID related measures, California passed a law requiring publicly traded corporations based in California to have one member of their board be from an underrepresented community by the end of 2021 and, depending on the board’s size, two or three by the end of 2022. As presented the law gives time for corporations to phase in this requirement, however, in the meantime the law has already come under legal challenge, so it remains to be seen if the law will stand.

California also took another step in its diversity effort with a late change requiring private employers with 100 employees or more to file an equal pay report each year. The first deadline is March 31, 2021.

Another area to watch is the continuing AB5 challenges. Uber and Lyft recently appeared before the California Court of Appeal in its ongoing attempt to strike down or be exempt from the law. Additionally, with the election upcoming, it is also important to watch Proposition 22, which, if successful, would allow app-based transportation companies to continue classifying their drivers as independent contracts and not as employees, as AB5 currently requires.

California also, of course, took further steps in addressing the pandemic with additional COVID compliance obligations for employers, which covered issues such as notification to employees and sick leave. Additionally, California codified a prior executive order of Governor Gavin Newsome, which created a rebuttable presumption in some cases that employees becoming infected with COVID were infected in the course of employment. The presumption applies to first responders and health care workers, as well as to employers who reach a threshold, depending on size, of positive tests among its employees.

With ever-changing requirements and obligations for employers, an experienced legal team can help navigate a potentially confusing and ever-evolving time for businesses, particularly with the ever-changing landscape for companies during the current pandemic.