Changes to California employment laws on the way in the new year

On Behalf of Griswold LaSalle Cobb Dowd & Gin LLP

Recently, employment laws have been a primary focus in California and across the nation. Workers are increasingly trying to maximize their benefits, be protected from wrongdoing and make sure they are treated fairly. These issues have come to the forefront largely because of the litany of harassment and discrimination claims that have cropped up. However, there are other areas of employment law that are periodically updated and new laws are starting at the dawn of the new year.

Understanding the new laws that go into effect on Jan. 1, 2022

Changes will include a new minimum wage, overtime laws for agricultural field workers, minimum wage for disabled workers, oversight from the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) for multiple job sites, expanded family leave and more protection against wage theft. A frequent worker complaint is not receiving what they are legally entitled to for minimum wage. Often this is because they are unaware of the amount it is supposed to be. Starting on Jan. 1, it will rise to $15 per hour if the business has at least 26 employees and $14 for business with 25 or fewer.

Agricultural field workers – a lifeblood in many areas of the Golden State – will soon receive 1.5 times regular pay for overtime after working eight hours in a day for a 40-hour workweek when it had previously been for working more than 10 hours or 60 hours in a week. This applies to workplaces with at least 26 workers. If the workers go beyond 12 hours per day, they get double time. For those with 25 or fewer employees, it is overtime after 9.5 hours. Disabled workers are no longer subject to the subminimum wage that was previously in place for employers who had a certificate allowing it.

Regarding Cal/OSHA, companies that have multiple sites can face problems with all locations if one receives a citation. Finally, workers will receive more freedom to take time off to care for loved ones under family leave laws. For withheld wages, the employer could be charged with grand theft if the amounts withheld go beyond certain levels. This can lead to misdemeanor and even felony charges.

Understanding and adhering to new employment laws may require assistance

Not only should workers be aware of the new employment laws going into effect, but employers must know about them to avoid making mistakes that can tarnish their business and lead to legal ramifications. Often, these problems are simple misunderstandings. In other cases, there is wrongdoing that is a clear legal violation and must be handled through appropriate avenues. For guidance with the changes, having experienced advice is critical from every perspective – employer and employee.


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