With the arrival of a new year comes changes or additions to existing employment laws. How many of the new employment regulations in 2022 affect your employment rights? Many of them are designed to protect you when it comes to needing time off to take care of a family member or how you’re paid if you need to take time off to recover from COVID. Take a closer look at everything that’s changing this year.
Since the pandemic began, employees and employers have had to keep up with several changing laws regarding COVID-19. In 2022, new rules are being added. Employees who may have been exposed to COVID-19 in the workplace had to be notified of the possible exposure. This is changing now so that a company must inform all employees and subcontractors’ employers within one business day. When it’s necessary, the notification has to be made in writing, including text messages or emails.
The California State Department of Public Health defines a COVID-19 Outbreak as three or more positive COVID cases in a non-medical setting within a period of 14 days. Healthcare professionals have different guidelines in place. They are determined by the type of medical practice or agency.
Employers have to explain benefits that can help cover expenses during a self-quarantine. This includes worker’s comp, personal time, sick leave, and vacation pay. The company must also detail the cleaning and disinfection plan that matches Cal/OSHA and CDC guidelines.
Employee and Consumer Arbitration Requirements
SB 707 (2019) requires employers to cover the cost of arbitration. Employers must pay these costs within 30 days, or it’s considered a material breach. Effective January 1, 2022, the arbitration provider must issue a detailed invoice listing their fees. This invoice must go to all parties on the same day and clearly lay out costs and due dates. Everyone needs to understand the invoicing and due dates and not have any questions.
If extensions are decided upon, all parties must agree to them. The goal is to make sure there is no question regarding when an employer breaches the terms.
Employer Record Retention Rules
Employee records now have to be stored for four years from the records’ creation date or when an action was taken. This includes matters like discrimination complaints, HR paperwork, etc. If a complaint is filed, the records must be held until the dispute process is complete or the statute of limitations ends.
If you’re looking for documents for a discrimination complaint, your employer shouldn’t have deleted it if the matter is pending, or it’s been less than four years. A lawyer specializing in employment law can help you determine the following steps to take if you learn the documents have been deleted.
Expansion of the California Family Rights Act
In the last year, California’s Family Rights Act was expanded to offer more protection to employees. Another extension is designed to help even more. Employees now have the right to take time off to care for “designated persons.” They do not need to identify those persons until the leave is taken. Employees can also designate a different person each year. One big difference is that your in-laws now count as people you can take time off to care for.
If your mom has Alzheimer’s and you need time off, she’d count as a designated person. You’ve cared for her, and a year later your father-in-law suffers a stroke. You’re able to add him as a new designated person requiring care.
That’s all part of the changes to the Family Rights Act. In-laws and other designated persons are allowed to go onto your care list. You can take care of multiple family members from one year to the next without denial.
Another significant change involves businesses with 5 to 19 employees. Employees with grievances regarding family leave must contact their department’s dispute resolution division without a specified period.
The Silenced No More Act
It used to be that employers could add clauses preventing the disclosure of information regarding workplace harassment, discrimination, and retaliation claims. If an employee filed a complaint against a boss and was awarded a settlement, a non-disclosure agreement could hide the information to prevent harm to the company’s reputation. The only exceptions were for cases of sexual discrimination, harassment, or retaliation against people who reported them.
Starting January 1, 2022, the Silenced No More Act prevents companies from adding terms to a settlement that prevents the wronged from being able to speak up. It also prevents the use of non-disclosure agreements when it comes to severance pay, bonuses, salary increases, and employment terms. The only clauses that an employer can add are meant to protect a company’s confidential information. This includes matters like trade secrets. Employees or others filing these complaints can request non-disclosure terms to protect their identity.
Employees are allowed to sign settlement agreements without first talking to an attorney. Signing has to be made voluntarily and knowingly and not through intimidation or threat. The period for this signature is “no less than five business days.”
If you’ve filed a complaint against your employer, pending discrimination complaints or settlements paid on or after January 1 must not have non-disclosure terms unless they protect private company information.
It would be best to talk to an attorney specializing in employment law to make sure your settlement agreements meet this new law. You also want to talk to an attorney to verify terms regarding signing without counsel to protect your rights.
Several changes are being made to wages. AB 286 protects delivery people from having tips or gratuities taken from them by their employer or food service they’re delivering for.
AB 701 requires warehouse distribution centers to give written guidelines when basing pay on quotas and productivity. If these quotas are not clearly laid out, employers cannot terminate or take adverse action against employees.
Employees who feel quotas are unfairly keeping them from required breaks, bathroom time, or their right to a safe work environment must be provided with written documentation on quotas and employee information regarding their work speed.
AB 1003 is a new employment law that prevents the theft of wages. If the theft is intentional and is $951 or more for a single employee or contractor or $2,351 or more for two or more employees or contractors in a year’s time, it is considered “grand theft.” The payroll department must pay employees all of the stolen wages, and employers face legal penalties.
Workers have always had the right to a safe workplace. New laws in 2022 add to this by authorizing Cal/OSHA to issue citations against companies that are in violation. Egregious violations are issued when as few as one of seven criteria are met. If they have the right to issue a citation, they can ask for injunctions against the employer’s operations. Finally, Cal/OSHA can also issue subpoenas if an employer fails to provide the information requested by the agency.
Do These Laws Apply to Your Recent or Pending Workplace Complaint?
What do you do if you suspect your employer violates any of these new laws as they apply to your pending complaint? Contact Shegerian Conniff to learn more about your rights as an employee. We offer free consultations and help you understand the next steps to take. Call us today to learn more.