Top 3 California Compliance Changes to Watch in 2021


Every new calendar year comes with new laws, but this year we can expect to see even more changes as we continue to battle COVID-19 and welcome a new administration. Staying in compliance this year will require extra attention and involvement from entire organizations to be effective. 


Here are the top 3 California compliance changes to watch for this year:


Pay Data Reporting

Many organizations are required to file an EEO-1 Report with the EEOC annually. Now, due to the passage of SB-973, private employers of 100 or more employees (with at least one employee in California) must complete and submit an additional level of pay data reporting to the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) by March 31, 2021, and every year after that. 


The new report must include the number of employees by race, ethnicity, gender, job categories, and pay band data. While the first annual submission deadline is right around the corner, the California Pay Data report aligns closely with EEO-1 reporting requirements and shouldn't catch employers off guard. 


However, we highly recommend you address any pay inequalities you discover during the pre-reporting process BEFORE you submit your data to the DFEH. This an opportunity to pop the hood of your own company and make improvements before it becomes a problem.  


The DFEH hosts an information page on their website with a user guide, spreadsheet templates, and FAQs to help employers navigate their new obligations. This is also where you will submit your data using the Pay Reporting Portal.


Don't forget - The EEOC waived 2019 EEO-1 reporting requirements for private-sector employers due to COVID-19, but companies are not off the hook. If your business is required to complete an EEO-1 report, you should have your forms for 2019 and 2020 ready to go by the end of March as well.  The EEOC announced data collection is scheduled to re-open in April of this year. 


Cal/OSHA COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standards

The emergency temporary Cal/OSHA standards on COVID-19 prevention are now in effect and apply to most California employers. To help maintain these requirements and prevent the spread of disease, OSHA recommends that employers encourage greater involvement from employees and stricter mask requirements in the guidance released January 29


Here are the requirements for employers covered by the COVID-19 prevention standards:


Establish, implement, and maintain an effective written COVID-19 Prevention Program, including:

    •  Identifying and evaluating employee exposures to COVID-19 health hazards.
    • Implementing effective policies and procedures to correct unsafe and unhealthy conditions (such as safe physical distancing, modifying the workplace, and staggering work schedules).
    • Ensuring workers wear face coverings to prevent exposure in the workplace.
    • Providing adequate training and instruction to employees on how COVID-19 is spread, infection prevention techniques, and information regarding COVID-19-related benefits that affected employees may be entitled to under applicable federal, state, or local laws.


Reporting of Multiple COVID-19 Infections and Outbreaks

Employers must notify public health departments of workplace outbreaks. Workplace outbreaks are defined as:

  • Three or more cases in the workplace within 14 days or;
  • 20 or more cases in the workplace within 30 days


Testing for Employees

Employers must offer COVID-19 testing at no cost to employees who have potential exposure.


Record-keeping and Reporting

Employers must maintain a record of all COVID-19 cases and notify Cal/OSHA of all work-related hospitalizations or fatalities due to COVID-19.


Cal/OSHA has several online resources to help employers take steps to protect workers. Some of the materials available include webinars, FAQs, fact sheets, and even a COVID-19 Model Prevention Program employers can use to develop a plan of their own.  


Expanded California Family Rights Act

In September 2020, Governor Newsom passed legislation to significantly expand the existing California Family Rights Act (CFRA) effective January 1, 2021. Let's review how the changes impact most California employers.


Under the previous regulations, private employers of 50 or more employees working within 75 miles of the worksite were required to provide up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave every 12 months for family and medical leave purposes. Senate Bill 1383 expands CFRA to include employers of five or more employees, broadens the definition of "family members" to cover many more categories, and eliminates the requirement that employees live within 75 miles of the worksite. 


Under the previous CFRA law, the definition of "family member" was limited to a minor child (unless the child is an adult and a dependent child), a spouse, or a parent. Now, SB 1383 significantly expands the definition to include siblings, grandparents, grandchildren, domestic partners and their children, and all adult children(regardless of whether they are dependent). 

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