New Laws Affecting Employers in January 2022

At the start of the new year, numerous new laws and regulations will take effect. The following are brief descriptions of some of the new laws and regulations that will affect employment and employers in California as of January 1, 2022.

Minimum Wage Order 2022 (MW-2022)

The Department of Industrial relations has issued a minimum wage order increasing the minimum wage since the start of January 2017.  MW-2022 increases the minimum wage for employers with twenty-five (25) employees or less to fourteen dollars ($14.00) per hour and fifteen dollars ($15.00) per hour for employers with twenty-six (26) employees or more.

Assembly Bill 701

Assembly Bill 701 is the first law in the nation of its kind. It is aimed at regulating warehouse distribution center quotas. Warehouse distribution centers (exempting Farm Product Warehouses) with one hundred (100) or more employees at one location, or one thousand (1,000) or more employees at various locations throughout the state, may no longer set quotas for production on their employees that affect meal and break periods.  All new hires are required to receive written records of expected quotas, and employees already hired must receive written records of quotas by January 31, 2022.

Assembly Bill 1003

Assembly Bill 1003 makes the intentional withholding of wages, benefits, gratuities, or other compensation due to a single employee in an amount greater than nine hundred fifty dollars ($950.00) or to multiple employees in the amount of two thousand three hundred fifty dollars ($2,350.00) punishable as grand theft under California Penal Code § 487. The theft or deprivation of wages, benefits, gratuities, or compensation is measured over any twelve (12) month period.

Assembly Bill 1033

Assembly Bill 1033 amends the California Family Rights Act, a component of FEHA (Fair Employment and Housing Act), to include caregiving of parents-in-law as a justification for up to twelve (12) weeks of unpaid time off.  A “parent-in-law” is a defined term under the current law, but upon its passing in 2020, the parent-in-law category was mistakenly omitted from the list of family members employees were allowed to care for under these provisions.

Assembly Bill 1066

Assembly Bill 1066 will close the overtime exemption for agricultural employees. Part of a gradual scheme to bring agricultural labor into the same wage/hour requirements as other labor, Assembly Bill 1066 has been in effect since 2019. In 2022, the overtime rates due to agricultural employees will be set to match all other occupations for employers having twenty-six (26) employees or more. That is, agricultural employees can earn time and one-half for all hours over eight (8) hours a day, and anything over forty (40) hours per week. For employers with twenty-five (25) employers or less, employees earn time and one-half for all hours over nine and one-half (9.5) per day, and any hours over fifty-five (55) per week.

Senate Bill 331

Senate Bill 331 expands prohibitions of the use of confidentially provisions in settlement agreements in cases of harassment and discrimination to all protective classes under sections 12940 and 12955 of the California Government Code. Further, non-disparagement agreements as a condition of employment may not bar an employee’s right to discuss conduct the employee may have reason to believe is unlawful. This prohibition also attaches to severance agreements.  

Senate Bill 606

Senate Bill 606 creates a rebuttable presumption that employers with multiple worksites have committed an enterprise-wide violation if Cal OSHA determines that the violation is part of a written policy or procedure. Cal OSHA may also issue this citation if the employer has evidence of a pattern or practice of such violations. Further, if a citation is issued for an enterprise-wide violation, employers could expect to be charged with willful and repeated violations for the same violation.

Senate Bill 639

Senate Bill 639 prohibits the issuance of new licenses to physically and mentally disabled workers for special subminimum wage payments. This is part of a larger multiyear phaseout plan to equalize minimum wage employees and grant employees with physical or mental disabilities financial independence. The goal of this bill within the next few years is to ensure that no employees within the State of California are paid less than the minimum wage.

If you need assistance navigating these new laws or other employment matters, the knowledgeable attorneys and staff at Dias Law Firm, Inc. are happy to assist you. Contact them today for a consultation.

By: Dustin J. Moses, Law Clerk

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