2020 seemed like the year that would never end, but we’ve finally put it behind us and have entered 2021. It feels like a fresh start. It also means it’s time to pay attention to the new laws that kicked in on January 1, 2021. It’s likely a few will impact your life.
Employers Have to Step Up Their COVID-19 Exposure Game
If you’re hoping that COVID-19 will simply disappear now that we’re into a new year, think again. Yes, there is a vaccine that shows promise. Yes, doctors have started to get a handle on how to treat the virus. Yes, we still have to practice social distancing and wear a mask.
What has changed is that things that were merely a suggestion before are now a legal requirement. An example of this is how all employers are now required to provide written notification whenever there is a COVID-19 outbreak in the workplace.
The new law requires that all business owners/managers alert not just their employees, but also customers, contractors, and anyone else who has been on the worksite that someone has tested positive for COVID-19. The notification has to be issued within one day of the positive test results. This law will remain in effect until 2023.
California Expands its Family and Medical Leave Requirements
Until this year, one of the major perks connected to working for a large company is that your employer had to honor some strict family and medical leave requirements. California lawmakers tweaked this law so that now even employees who work for a business that hires five or more employees will be eligible for family and medical leave.
What does this mean? If you or a family member gets sick and you have to stay at home to care for them, your employer has to give you up to 12 weeks off. The downside is that this time off isn’t paid, but at least you don’t have to worry that taking time off to care for a sick relative will cost you your job.
Executive Board Diversification
Corporate boards that are based out of California will look different in 2021. Lawmakers passed AB 979 to make sure that an honest effort was made to diversify executive boards. The law states that these boards have until December 2022 to make sure that a minimum of three board seats belong to minorities. At this point, the law only pertains to boards of nine or more members. Failing to name minorities to the board will result in a $300,000 fine.
Minimum Wage Goes Up
In 2021, an employer who hires 26 or more employees will have to pay a minimum of $14 per hour. If your employer has 25 or fewer employees, the minimum they can get away with paying is $13 per hour.
Distracted Driving can get you in Big Trouble!
California’s tougher distracted driving law will likely be the one that impacts the most people in 2021. The good news is that the law doesn’t prohibit you from using your hands-free device while driving, but under no circumstances can you have your phone in your hand while your vehicle is moving. The second time you get caught holding your phone during a three-year period will result in a fine and points.