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New California Family Rights Act Dramatically Expands Employee Rights and Employer Obligations

On September 17, 2020, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill (SB) 1383, which repealed the current California Family Rights Act (CFRA), eliminated the California New Parent Leave Act, and replaced those statutes with a new CFRA, codified in California Government Code Section 12945.2, et seq.  Effective Janu­ary 1, 2021, CFRA will cover employers with as few as five employees and expand the reasons for which CFRA leave may be used, among several other changes.  Important aspects of the new law, as well as key considerations for employers to consider in developing compliance plans, are set forth below.

Expanded to Cover Smaller Employers

Currently, CFRA (modeled largely after the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)) applies to private employers with 50 or more employees and public employers of any size.  The new CFRA lowers the employee threshold and applies to private employers with five or more employees.

Therefore, CFRA will now apply to much smaller employers. Many smaller employers likely never had to comply with FMLA or CFRA, so there may be a steep learning curve between now and January 1, 2021.

Expanded to Cover More Employees:  75-Mile-Radius Eligibility Requirement Eliminated

To be eligible for leave under the current CFRA, em­ployees must (1) have more than 12 months of service with the employer; (2) have at least 1,250 hours of service with the company during the previous 12-month period; and (3) work for an employer with at least 50 employees in a 75-mile radius. These three requirements mirror the

California Employers Have Less Than Six Months To Complete Sexual Harassment and Abusive Conduct Training

In September 2018, California passed SB 1343, which expanded the sexual harassment training requirements for California employers.  Previously, employers with 50 or more employees were required to provide at least two hours of sexual harassment training to all supervisory employees within six months of their assumption of a supervisory position and once every two years thereafter.

SB 1343 expands the training requirement in two key ways.  First, it requires employers who employ five or more employees to provide sexual harassment training.  Second, in addition to training supervisors, employers must now provide at least one hour of sexual harassment training to all nonsupervisory employees by January 1, 2020, and once every two years thereafter.  As a result, all employees will need to be retrained by January 1, 2022.

The good news for employers is that the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (“DFEH”) is required to develop online training courses that employers can use to satisfy their obligation to provide sexual harassment training.  The bad news is that the DFEH still has not done so and there is no date certain by which the online training courses will be available.  However, the DFEH has posted a sexual harassment and abusive conduct prevention toolkit, which includes a sample sexual harassment and abusive conduct prevention training.  It is available here: https://www.dfeh.ca.gov/wp-content/uploads/sites/32/2018/12/SexualHarassmentandAbusiveConductPreventionTrainingToolkit.pdf.  However, unlike the online training courses that will be available, the toolkit is intended to be used in conjunction with a qualified trainer.

With only six months until the end

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