Employer Beware: New California Employment Laws for 2022

*Originally published by CalCPA in the January/February 2022 issue of California CPA.

To borrow from both the Grateful Dead and Miley Cyrus, “… what a long, strange trip it’s been …” and “there’s always gonna be another mountain … ain’t about what’s on the other side, it’s the climb.” Among the lasting 2021 impacts of politics, aberrant weather and wildfires—and COVID-19— is increased regulation of California employers. More than 330 bills introduced in the most recent California legislative session mention “employer,” compared to about 560 bills in 2020. While most bills did not pass the Legislature, many were signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom, bringing more rules and risks for employers in our state dealing with COVID-19, workplace safety, wage and hour rules, worker classification, working conditions, leaves of absence, posters, Department of Fair Employment and Housing matters, settlements and nondisparagement agreements, and wage rates.

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Summary of Cal/OSHA’s Revised COVID-19 ETS Adopted on December 16, 2021

On December 16, 2021, the California Occupational Safety & Health Standards (Cal/OSHA) Board voted to re-adopt its COVID-19 prevention emergency temporary standards (ETS) incorporating changes Cal/OSHA posted in preparation of its business meeting on December 16, 2021. If approved by the Office of Administrative Law (which is expected), the revised ETS will take effect on January 14, 2022 and will expire on April 14, 2022.

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Summary of Revisions to Cal/OSHA’s COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standards

UPDATE: Cal/OSHA Withdraws June 3, 2021 revised ETS. In a special meeting held on the evening of June 9, 2021, the Cal/OSHA Board met to consider the latest guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and California Department of Public Health regarding masking. The Board voted unanimously to withdraw the revisions to Cal/OSHA’s revised ETS that they had voted to approve on June 3, 2021, and that were set to go into effect on June 15, 2021 (pending approval from the Office of Administrative Law).  In a press release, Cal/OSHA stated that it will review the new mask guidance, bring any recommended revisions to the Board and that the Board could consider new revisions at a future meeting, perhaps as early as the regular meeting on June 17, 2021. In the meantime, the Cal/OSHA’s ETS adopted in November of 2020 will continue to remain in effect. Faegre Drinker will continue to monitor and provide insights with respect to Cal/OSHA’s revised ETS as well as other COVID-19-related topics. Insights will be updated on the firm’s COVID-19 Resource Center.

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