CALIFORNIA, USA — As we head into a new year with high hopes for the economy to continue to recover and grow, 2022 has brought something that everyone can count on: new state laws.
Some of the new laws include one that will require the Employment Development Department (EDD) to provide a person additional notification prior to disqualifying them from receiving their benefits. Another will require warehouse employers to disclose quotas and pace-of-work standards to workers.
Here is what you need to know about new workplace laws that are officially on the books in 2022.
Summary: This bill requires warehouse employers of 100 or more employees at a warehouse distribution center or 1000 or more employees at one or more warehouses to (1) disclose quotas and pace-of-work standards to workers, (2) prohibits employers from counting time that workers spend complying with health and safety laws as “time off task,” and (3) requires the Labor Commissioner to enforce these provisions.
What's new: AB-701 is a bill that proposes a series of provisions designed to ensure that the use of job performance quotas at large warehouse facilities does not penalize workers for complying with health and safety standards or taking meal and rest breaks.
The bill would provide that an employee is not required to meet a quota that prevents compliance with meal or rest periods, use of bathroom facilities, or occupational health and safety laws, as specified. The bill would prohibit an employer from taking adverse action against an employee for failure to meet a quota that has not been disclosed.
This bill would require the Labor Commissioner to enforce these provisions.
Why is it needed:
Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego), the author of the bill, said "it's unacceptable for the largest and wealthiest employers in the country to put workers' bodies and lives at risk just so consumers can get next-day delivery."
She agrees that this bill is needed because it would "strengthen warehouse workers' rights against arbitrary and abusive work quota systems."
"This bill would specifically prohibit an employer from retaliating against or firing an employee for failing to meet a quota that would not allow a worker to comply with health and safety laws," Gonzalez said.
The Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, co-sponsors of this bill, said California must demand better from these companies and argue that "many workers see no other job options and feel they must accept unsafe conditions to keep a roof over their heads."
The the California Chamber of Commerce, in opposition, argue that the bill will "create a new private right of action based on vague standards."
Summary: Requires the Employment Development Department (EDD) to provide an individual additional notification prior to disqualifying them from unemployment insurance (UI) benefits.
What's new: This bill would specify that the notice may be combined with other notices from EDD, which may include (1) notifications of potential overpayments and of eligibility interviews rather than a stand-alone notice. 2) Instead of 30 days, allows an individual a period of not less than 10 days to respond to the determination of ineligibility. 3) Requires EDD to implement this measure by September 1, 2022.
Why is it needed: Assemblymember Chad Mayes (I-District 42) and Assemblymember David Chiu (D-District 17), the authors of the bill, said a claimant may receive a false statement penalty when they accidentally answer certification questions incorrectly and receive an overpayment.
The author agrees this bill is needed to "prevent Californians from being locked out of benefits when they need them most."
The Center for Workers' Rights wrote in support, said a false statement penalty poses undue stress to claimants and argues that EDD "allow claimants the opportunity to remedy errors on their claim before penalizing them."
There were no arguments on file opposing this bill.
Summary: This bill would prohibit a food facility from providing any single-use foodware accessory or standard condiment to a consumer unless requested by the consumer.
What's new: This bill expands and revises statute that limits the distribution of single-use plastic straws to only upon request by a consumer to apply to all single-use condiments and food serviceware distributed by food facilities or third-party food delivery platforms.
Why is it needed: Assemblywoman Wendy Carrillo’s (AD-51, Los Angeles) and Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego), the authors of the bill, said the use of disposable food accessories like plastic forks, spoons, and knives has led to a rise in single-use plastics and waste.
The authors agree that this bill is needed to "significantly reduce plastic waste that pollutes our oceans, harms marine life, harms our environment, and hurts low income communities of color, while simultaneously providing financial savings to restaurants and local governments."
A coalition of supporters state, "the use of disposable food accessories has contributed to a 250- 300% increase in single-use plastics and a 30% increase in waste.
The Los Angeles County Solid Waste Management Committee/Integrated Waste Management Task Force opposes the bill unless it includes language requiring California to be responsible for enforcement or provide funding to local governments for local enforcement of the prohibition and requirements.
Summary: Effective Jan. 1, 2022, this bill requires employers in California to start paying their employees a higher minimum wage.
What's new: The state's minimum wage for employers with 25 or fewer employees will increase to $14 per hour from $13 and the state minimum wage for employers with 26 or more employees will increase to $15 per hour from $14.
Why is it needed: Senator Mark Leno, the author of the bill, said "it is essential that California increase the speed with which boosts in the minimum wage will occur, and it is equally essential that future annual increases be automatic and tied to the rate of inflation in order to protect low wage employees’ purchasing power."
Supporters of the bill argue that the minimum wage "does not solely help workers. Rather, proponents contend that such an increase will stimulate consumer spending."
Opponents argue that the bill is an "unacceptably large wage increase in a short period of time, threatening to overwhelm California’s small businesses."
WATCH RELATED: The New Year will ring in a slew of new laws throughout California