2021 ushers in new laws in California

The new year will usher in new laws in California, including a minimum wage increase. Find out what other laws will go into effect in 2021. 

Covid-exposure workplace notification
A new law will require businesses to notify employees as well about any possible exposures of the coronavirus at the workplace.  The law states that the notification must take place within one day of the exposure. The employer would be required to give written notice of exposure to employees, and give information about COVID-related benefits like sick-leave to exposed workers. Employers that fail to do so risk major penalties. The law will remain in effect until 2023.
Diversification of executive boards
AB 979 aims to diversify executive boards.  By the end of 2021, any corporate board headquartered in California must also appoint at least one director from an underrepresented community.  By the end of 2022, if the board has nine or more board seats,  at least three seats must go to members of minority communities or face fines of up to $300,000. AB 979 is already facing legal challenges in the courts.

RELATED: New California laws address virus, fires, law enforcement

Distracted driving law
It's already the law that you can't hold your phone in your hand while driving, whether you're talking or texting, but now the punishment will be stricter. Two violations in a three-year period will add a point to your driver’s record starting in July 2021. The law does not apply to hands-free technology.

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Minimum Wage increase

The minimum wage in California will go up to $14 per hour for employers with 26 or more employees.  Businesses with 25 or fewer employees must increase the minimum wage to $13 per hour.  In the City of Los Angeles, the minimum wage is already $15 per hour.  Governor Gavin Newsom rejected pleas from small business advocacy groups saying they’re struggling to survive during pandemic lockdowns. Business owners say they would have no choice but to hire or rehire fewer employees.

SUGGESTED: Starbucks to raise minimum wage to $15 for US employees over next 3 years

Expanded family and medical leave

California is expanding its family and medical leave law, which previously only applied to large companies.  Now, people who employ five or more employees will be required to provide unpaid family and medical leave for up to 12 weeks. It is intended to allow qualifying employees to care for a child, domestic partner, or family member with serious health conditions. Again, it is unpaid leave but comes with the guarantee that they can come back to their jobs when it’s done.

This story was reported from Los Angeles.