Here are some of the most significant employment law updates for 2022.
The minimum wage for all California employees has increased. For employers with 26 or more employees, it has increased to $15 per hour. For employers with 25 or less employees, it has increased to $14 per hour. This also means the minimum annual salary for certain exempt employees has increased to $62,400 and $58,240, respectively.
California Family Rights Act
Last year, the California Family Rights Act was expanded and now applies to employers with at least 5 employees.
The amended law requires employers with at least 5 employees to allow an employee to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid protected leave for certain qualifying reasons. An employee may take leave under the Act to bond with their new child or to care for themselves due to their own serious health condition or the serious health condition of a child, parent, grandparent, grandchild, sibling, spouse, or domestic partner. The recent change in the law clarifies that parent includes parent-in-laws.
Settlement & Severance Agreements
Settlement and severance agreements entered into after January 1, 2022 cannot include confidentiality provisions preventing employees from disclosing factual information regarding workplace harassment, discrimination, or retaliation. Previously, the law only applied to claims based on sex discrimination or harassment.
Further, if an employer requires an employee to agree to a non-disparagement provision, the employer must inform the employee that the employee is not prevented from reporting unlawful acts in the workplace.
Employees must also be offered five days to consider any severance agreement and be advised of their right to consult with an attorney.
Criminal Liability For Failure to Pay Wages
An employer who intentionally fails to pay any one employee an amount greater than $950 or $2,350 for any two or more employees in any 12 month period may be criminally prosecuted for grand theft.
California has extended the time an employer is required to keep personnel records from two to four years from the date of creation, termination, or non-hire of an applicant.
Sub-Minimum Wages for Employees With Disabilities Is Ending
Beginning January 1, 2022, the State will not issue any new special licenses to authorize the payment of sub-minimum wages to employees with physical or mental disabilities. The State will also phase out the current payment of sub-minimum wages over the next several years.
Subject to limited exceptions, garment manufacturing employees can no longer be paid by the piece or unit.
Tips to Food Delivery Workers
Beginning January 1, 2022, it is unlawful for a food delivery platform to retain any portion of tips or gratuities paid from the customer to the delivery worker.
Warehouse Distribution Employee Quotas
Warehouse distribution employers with at least 100 employees at a single distribution center or 1,000 or more employees at distribution centers in California are required to provide employees with written descriptions of any quotas the employee is subject to within 30 days of hire. Employers are prohibited from taking any adverse employment action against an employee based on an undisclosed quota. Quotas preventing employees from taking meal or rest breaks or complying with health and safety laws are prohibited.
General Contractor Liability for Subcontractor Employee Wages
Formerly, a general or direct contractor was only liable for wages a subcontractor failed to pay its employees. Now, the general contractor is also liable for additional penalties, liquidated damages, and interest for the subcontractor’s failure to pay wages due.
The California Supreme Court clarified that employers cannot engage in the practice of rounding time punches for meal periods. The Court also held that time records showing meal periods were not timely given creates a presumption the employee was not provided a compliant meal break, and as such, is owed meal period premium monies.
In a separate case, the Court held the calculation of the meal period premium monies owed to employees for non-compliant meal periods is based on the “regular rate of pay,” which is the same rate of pay used for purposes of calculating overtime compensation.
In 2020, California passed a law prohibiting employers from requiring employees and applicants to sign an agreement to arbitrate most employment related claims as a condition of their employment. The law was immediately challenged. The Court has now clarified the portion of the law that prohibited an employer from requiring employees to enter into such an agreement is valid to the extent an employee fails or refuses to enter into the agreement. However, if an employee signs the agreement, then the agreement to arbitrate is valid and enforceable.
Contact the experienced employment attorneys at the Law Offices of Corren & Corren for any of your employment law needs.