Top California Bills for Employers to Watch in 2022


JThe California Legislature has considered fewer bills in the previous two sessions – due to the COVID-19 pandemic – but state lawmakers appear to be picking up the pace in 2022, and they are currently considering several bills key pieces of legislation that would impact the workplace.

“As COVID cases thankfully continue to decline, the California Legislature has removed COVID-imposed limitations on the number of bills to review, which means business is business as usual in Sacramento,” Michael said. Kalt, an attorney at Wilson Turner Kosmo in San Diego.

Benjamin Ebbink, an attorney at Fisher Phillips in Sacramento, also noted that 2022 promises to be a “back to normal” for California labor laws after two years of decline.

Many legislative years seem to have a theme, Kalt noted, such as the focus on sexual harassment prevention measures and COVID-19-related employee protections in previous years.

What is this year’s theme? California lawmakers appear to be focused on the interplay between workplace technology and employee privacy rights, Kalt observed.

Some additional bills that have received recent media attention would provide workplace protections for cannabis users and force large employers to switch to a 32-hour work week or pay premiums for overtime. .

“There are a number of bills that continue to pass through Sacramento that remain problematic for California employers,” said Karen Tynan, an attorney at Ogletree Deakins in Sacramento. “As usual, these are not bills that are helpful to employers, but rather … increase data or information burdens, demand payroll increases or push back on employer protections.”

Here are the top work-related bills employers should watch out for.

The Workplace Technology Accountability Act

AB 1651 is “a radical proposal aimed at workplace monitoring, technology and automated decision-making and [artificial intelligence]and “will be a big talking point this year,” according to Ebbink.

The AB 1651 synopsis states that the bill “would provide workers with the right to know, review, correct and secure data collected from them by their employer and would limit an employer’s ability to use this data beyond the specified purpose”. Among other requirements, employers should “prepare and publish impact assessments for the use of various technologies.”

However, since May 4, this bill has not moved this year.

Changes to California Privacy Rights Law

SB 1454 (and several other bills) would expand exemptions to California privacy rights law for employee and company data. The exemptions are currently set to expire on January 1, 2023. If the exemptions expire, “employee data would be subject to all rights and responsibilities under the CCPA [California Consumer Privacy Act]Extending these exemptions or making them permanent will be a big priority for the Legislative Assembly this year, he said.

Collection of biometric data

Sacramento lawmakers are also considering new safeguards around the collection of biometric information by employers, Kalt noted.

SB 1189 would require private entities that collect biometric information to take specific steps to protect that data. If approved, the bill would “significantly expand biometric information privacy and security protections in California and likely influence other legislative activity in the United States,” said Jackson attorney Joseph Lazzarotti. Lewis in Berkeley Heights, NJ. “It could also open the door to a wave of litigation, similar to what organizations subject to the [Biometric Information Privacy Act in Illinois] currently facing.”

Job Protections for Cannabis Users

AB 2188 would place limits on workplace drug testing rules by providing additional protections for cannabis users. Under the measure, employers would not be allowed to discriminate against employees for “consumption of cannabis outside of work and outside the workplace” or for having “non-psychoactive metabolites of cannabis in their urine, hair or their bodily fluids.

Ebbink noted that California lawmakers have considered a number of proposals in the past regarding employment discrimination and cannabis use, but none of those bills have moved forward. AB 2188, however, was recently amended to exclude protections for employees in the building and construction trades, which may signal that this bill may go further than previous efforts.

Employee Payroll Data

AB 2095 would create a new program requiring employers with more than 1,000 California employees to submit data to the state on workplace safety and employee compensation, hours, and benefits.

“Ultimately, the goal is to reward exemplary employers who treat their workers well,” according to the bill’s sponsor, Assemblyman Ash Kalra, D-San Jose.

Tynan, however, said, “The burden on California employers, with little return or benefits, would be enormous.”

Another bill, SB 1162, would require private employers with at least 100 workers employed through an employment agency or contractor to submit wage data reports to the Department of Employment. equity and housing. The bill would also require employers to retain and share pay scale data or face civil penalties.

The four-day work week

“AB 2932 is probably the most problematic for large employers with more than 500 employees,” Tynan said. This bill would increase the definition of a “work week” for these employers from 40 to 32 hours and create an additional overtime requirement for work performed in excess of 32 hours. Under the bill, non-exempt employees should be paid the same amount for 32 hours as they were paid for 40.

“This bill has gotten a lot of attention and ‘buzz’, but has yet to be set to be heard,” Ebbink noted. “It remains to be seen if this will actually move or if it’s just an interesting topic of discussion.”

Since May 4, this bill has not moved this year.

Bernard P. Love