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By December 14, 2020May 10th, 2024No Comments

January signals the start of another year and another new set of laws for California residents.  Below are some highlights of new laws taking effect in 2021.

Assembly Bill 5 (Independent Contractors)

 A.B. 5 was the groundbreaking 2020 law that changed the way the law classifies independent contractors,  Since A.B. 5’s enactment, a number of legal challenges and protests of the new law have been mounted.  This effort culminated in November with the passage of Proposition 22, which exempts Uber and other ride-hailing services from the impacts of A.B. 5.

A.B. 2257:  This bill revises several aspects of  A.B. 5, including creating a broad “business to business” exception and clarifies that a sole proprietorship may qualify for the business-to-business exemption if certain criteria is met.  The new law also creates a number of new exceptions to A.B. 5, including members of the recording industry (i.e. recording artists, musicians, producers, etc.), freelance writers, translators, still photographers, photojournalists, freelance editors, newspaper cartoonists, insurance inspectors, and real estate appraisers.

Family Leave

 S.B. 1383:  This new law significantly expands the California Family Rights Act (“CFRA”), the state family and medical leave law, by lowering the threshold for employer coverage from a minimum of 50 employees to 5 or more employees, effective January 1, 2021.

CFRA will also now be available to cover the active duty of an employee’s child, spouse or domestic partner, or parent in the Armed Forces of the United States.

To be eligible for CFRA, an employee must still be employed at least 12 months and have worked at least 1250 hours in the previous 12 months.


 A.B. 1867:  The Legislature’s attempt to provide, among other things, a comprehensive codified supplemental paid sick leave benefit program to Californians:

First, new Labor Code section 248 codifies Executive Order 51-20 providing COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave (“COVID-19 SPSL”) to food sector employees who work for employers with 500 or more employees nationwide.  Next, the new Labor Code section 248.1 fills in gaps in coverage in other laws by providing COVID-19 SPSL to non-food sector employees of employers with 500 or more employees nationwide.  (The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”) provided COVID-19 SPSL to employees who work for employers with less than 500 employees nationwide.)  Labor Code 248.1 also provides COVID-19 SPSL to health care employees and emergency responders who were excluded from the FFCRA’s emergency paid sick leave provisions.

S.B. 1159:  Modifies and extends The Governor’s previous Executive Order, creating a disputable presumption that illness or death related to COVID 19 is an occupational injury for the purpose of workers’ compensation benefits eligibility.  The presumption applies if the employer has at least 5 employees, the employee tests positive within 14 days after the employee performed work at the employer’s place of employment at the employer’s direction, the work date was July 6, 2020, or later, and the positive test occurred during a period of an “outbreak,” as defined in this statute, at the employer’s place of employment.  An employee’s home is excluded from the definition of “place of employment.”  This urgency legislation was effective as of September 17, 2020, and expires January 1, 2023.

A.B. 685:  Cements robust notice requirements on employers in the event of COVID-19 exposure in the workplace and increases mandatory reporting requirements to local health officials in the event of a COVID-19 outbreak.  Under the Bill, both private and public employers who receive notice of potential exposure must provide timely (within one day) written notice to all employees, employers of subcontractor employees, and affected unions of the exposure, including access to worker’s compensation and sick policies.  Cal/OHSA has published guidelines for employers to assist in compliance.


 A.B. 1947:  Extends the period of time for employees who believe that they have been discharged or otherwise discriminated against in violation of any law enforced by the Labor Commissioner to file a complaint with the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) from six months to one year.

The new law also authorizes a court to award reasonable attorney’s fees to a plaintiff who successfully brings a whistleblower action under Labor Code Section 1102.5.


For more information on this please contact Principal Attorney Colin K. McCarthy, [email protected].

The information contained in this Newsletter has been prepared by Lanak & Hanna, P.C. for educational and informational purposes only. It does not constitute legal advice, nor does it substitute for legal advice.

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