Season’s greetings! Ready or not, a new year starts in just a few weeks. This update will help you prepare. Since many employment updates are currently in flux, if you are flummoxed by these changes, just reach out to our team to help navigate the path forward.

New Employment Laws for 2022

This year was a big year for more ground-breaking case decisions and rulings, although from an employee handbook standpoint, 2022 won’t mandate as many updates as prior years.

Below are some key highlights of recent rulings.

  • Meal breaks: It was reaffirmed that time-rounding may not occur for meal breaks (Donohue). In addition, there is a new ruling for employers to apply when calculating a penalty for missed breaks, in that the “regular rate of pay” must be followed, not the base rate of pay (Ferra).
  • PAGA: Because of Federal constitutional standing requirements, PAGA claims cannot be brought to Federal court if the claimant has not personally suffered from a labor law violation.
  • Settlement Agreements: Confidentiality and non-disparagement restrictions now pertain to any form of prohibited workplace harassment, discrimination or retaliation. Separate but related, for severance agreements, employees must be provided at least five (5) business days to consider signing, and a provision stating their right to consult an attorney. Employees under age 40 will benefit from these new terms.
  • Records Retention: CA employers must now hold onto personnel files for four years past separation at minimum, or longer if a DFEH claim was filed.
  • Wage Theft: Employers may now be charged with grand theft if wages are wrongfully withheld from an employee or independent contractor during a 12-month period.
  • Arbitration Agreements: While CA employers may continue to issue mandatory arbitration agreements to prevent class-action claims, it is currently unclear what civil or criminal sanctions may apply to a violation in the event your employee does not sign an arbitration agreement.
  • CFRA (California Family Rights Act):  Effective January 1, an employee may now apply this job-protected leave to care for “parents-in-law” with serious health conditions.

All I want for Christmas is my Two Vaccines…

With thanks to premier employment law firm AALRR, this introduction was just too cute to not share.

On a federal level, federal contractors now have a stay for enforcing the COVID-19 vaccine mandate.  That is likely headed to SCOTUS for a ruling. In the private sector, employers are caught in a quandary about whether or not to mandate COVID-19 vaccines for their workers.
Private employers will need to consider any industry requirements, and as well, mandates from localities where you do business. Otherwise, and as stated in prior CorHR Employment Updates this year, we recommend a careful evaluation of each role when considering a vaccine mandate; be mindful in particular of the regular expected interaction with the general public.

Should you elect to proceed with a vaccine mandate, be sure to include a confidential and thoughtful process for individual workers to raise medical or religious concerns, as well as alternatives to getting vaccinated.

And if you’re hosting a holiday gathering this year, exercise caution, particularly if the gathering will be indoors. Nothing spoils the festivity quicker than learning your employee’s “plus one” brought COVID exposure to the office party.  And be sure to remind attendees that Company policies against harassment also apply to sponsored celebration events.

M I N I M U M  W A G E  H I K E – J A N  1

California’s drive toward a 15-dollar minimum wage for all employers continues. Effective January 1, 2022, the minimum wage for employers with 25 employees or less increases to $14.00 per hour, and for employers with 26 or more employees, $15.00 per hour.

In addition and across the state, various cities and counties have adopted a higher minimum wage rate higher than the state that applies to hourly workers. Beginning January 1, cities including San Diego, San Jose, Sunnyvale and more will follow a higher minimum wage for employers regardless of size.

The good news is that the minimum acceptable salary for exempt employees remains at twice the state minimum wage, regardless.

Also effective January 1, the minimum hourly rate for computer professional employees is $50.00 per hour, or a salary of at least $104,149.81 annually ($8,679.16 monthly).