2021 Employer Updates Summary

January 2021 Summary of Employment Updates:


COVID 19: AB 685 & Cal/OSHA Emergency Temporary Standards:


  1. COVID-19 Positive Test Results/Potential Exposure Notice Obligations (AB 685) –
    1. Employers must notify all other employees who were on the premises of the worksite during the possible exposure period (including subcontracted or temp employees) of their potential exposure within one business day. The notice must include COVID related benefits information as well as disinfection and safety measures.
    2. Employers must also notify your workers compensation company of positive results, assuming the employee has been onsite at an employer’s location in the 14 days prior to the date of the positive test.
    3. If there is workplace exposure, no cost testing must be offered to employees.
  2. COVID-19 “Outbreaks”
    1. “Outbreaks” must be reported to the local public health department within 48 hours.
    2. “Outbreak” = three or more lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 among employees who live in different households within a two-week period.
    3. During an outbreak, for workers compensation purposes, it is assumed that any positive cases arose in the course of their employment unless the employer can prove otherwise.
  3. Cal/OSHA can shut down and issue serious violations for any worksite or operation which “exposes workers to the risk of infection” of COVID-19 so as to constitute an imminent hazard. The notice response window does not apply in these cases through 1/1/2023.
  4. Employers must have a COVID-19/pandemic response policy (attach to IIPP).
  5. Maintain all related records for at least 3 years.
  6. COVID-19 Vaccination –
    1. Employers can encourage and incentivize vaccinations, which is the recommended policy.
    2. If mandatory policy, employees can still refuse based on religion or other protected reasons.

IRS – Covid Pay/FFCRA:

Wages paid under the FFCRA aka “Covid Pay” should be reported separately on Box 14 of employee W-2’s. A notification letter must also be issued to the employees.

The FFCRA E-FMLA expired on 12/31/20, however employers may choose to continue to offer the paid leave through 3/31/2021 with IRS tax credits/reimbursements continuing through that date, which is recommended.

Handbook Updates:

AB 2992: Expanded Employee Leave

  • Expands employee leave for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking, or taking time off from work to obtain or attempt to obtain relief to help ensure the health, safety or welfare of the victim or victim’s child.

SB 1383: California Family Rights Act Expansion (5+ EE’s)

  • CA Family Rights Act expanded to all employers with 5 or more employees. Provides up to 12 weeks of unpaid protected leave for child bonding or family care. The prior 75-mile radius requirement has now been removed. To be eligible, employees must have worked at least 1,250 hours during the prior 12-month period. Also, both parents, even if working for the same employer would be eligible for the 12 weeks of unpaid leave. This can be in addition to FMLA, workers comp and other leaves of absence.
  • This makes the FMLA leave it’s own stand alone policy now.

Other Employer Updates:

AB 1867: Food Facility Employee Hand Washing

  • Requires employees working in any food facility to be permitted to wash their hands every 30 minutes and additionally as needed.

AB 1947: DLSE Complaints Time Period Extension

  • Labor code/DLSE complaint time period extended from 6 months to one year.

AB 2017: Sick Leave

  • Employees have the sole discretion of if/when to use their sick leave.

SB 973: Pay Data to the DFEH (100+ EE’s)

  • Requires California private employers with 100 or more employees to submit a pay data report to the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) by no later than March 31, 2021, and annually thereafter. Instructions should be coming soon from the DFEH but are not yet available.

AB 1963: Mandated Reporters of Child Abuse (5+ EE’s)

  • Expands the list of mandated reporters of child abuse to include HR professionals and supervisors, whose duties require direct contact with and supervision of minors. HR professionals must report all types of defined child abuse, and supervisors must report sexual abuse. Employees with reporting duties must be trained and is offered by the Office of Child Abuse Prevention.