Three New Laws That Should Help California Employees

Several new state laws related to employment go into effect this year. These three provide additional protections for workers or time off under certain circumstances. Although management can still do a lot to make your life miserable, California generally offers more protections than federal law.   It is always best for employees to communicate in writing when requesting protection under worker safety or family leave laws.

V. James DeSimone Law’s Los Angeles employment attorneys have been protecting employee rights in many situations, including family leave and worker safety. It’s crucial that state law expands employees’ legal rights, but many employers will ignore them. Our past clients’ multi-million dollar settlements and verdicts show we hold employers accountable for their actions. If you need legal help because of workplace issues, call V. James DeSimone Law at (310) 693-5561tel:3106935561


Workers in Emergency Situations

Senate Bill 1044 was signed into law and prevents employers from taking or threatening to take action against an employee for:

  • Refusing to report to, or leave, a workplace or worksite
  • Where there’s an “emergency condition,” and
  • The worker has a reasonable belief that the workplace or work site is unsafe
  • Except in specified circumstances

An “emergency condition” would be:

  • A disaster or extreme danger to the safety of people or property at the workplace or worksite caused by a criminal act or natural forces, or
  • A government orders the evacuation of the workplace, worksite, a worker’s home, or the worker’s child’s school due to a natural disaster or a criminal act (not including a health pandemic)

The employee must tell the employer of the emergency condition forcing them to leave or refuse to show up at the workplace or worksite.

Some employers prohibit employees from using cell phones while on duty. Under state law, if there’s an “emergency condition,” employers can’t prevent employees from accessing their mobile device or other communications device to:

  • Seek emergency assistance
  • Assess the situation’s safety
  • Communicate with someone to confirm their safety

These protections don’t apply when an “emergency condition” ceases.

Bereavement Leave

New amendments to existing law give workers employed for at least 30 days five days of bereavement leave after the death of a family member, which includes a:

  • Spouse
  • Domestic partner
  • Child
  • Parent
  • Parent-in-law
  • Sibling
  • Grandparent
  • Grandchild

These days need not be used consecutively, but the leave must be completed within three months of a family member’s death.

Employers have three ways to comply, depending on their current practice. If:

  • There’s no current bereavement leave policy, the five days may be unpaid
  • An existing bereavement policy provides for less than five days of paid leave, workers can now take at least five days of leave, which would be paid (up to the number allowed under the current policy), with the remaining days unpaid
  • An existing policy allows for fewer than five unpaid bereavement leave days, employees can use not less than five days of unpaid leave

No matter the situation, employees may use vacation, sick leave, personal leave, or compensatory time off for unpaid bereavement leave. Employers can ask for proof of the death within 30 days of the first day of leave. Interfering with someone’s leave, improperly denying it, or terminating an employee for exercising bereavement leave, would be illegal.

Paid Sick Leave Expanded to Cover Someone Unrelated to Employee

There are more individuals an employee may take leave to care for and the amount of pay has been expanded under the amended California Family Rights Act (CFRA) and California’s Healthy Workplaces Healthy Families Act (HWHFA):

  • The worker may use unpaid leave to care for a “designated person.” This would be “any individual related by blood or whose association with the employee is the equivalent of a family relationship.”
  • An employee may also take paid leave to care for a “designated person,” defined as “a person identified by the employee at the time the employee requests paid sick days.”

The new CFRA and HWHFA language states an employee may identify a designated person when they request leave. The employer may limit the employee to one designated person within 12 months.Contact an Attorney Today

These laws should help you cope with an emergency at work, help you care for a loved one, and help you grieve for the loss of someone close to you. If you’re denied your rights under these new laws, contact an employment lawyer at V. James DeSimone Law at 310-693-5561 today.

Speaking with one of our attorneys can help you understand your legal rights in the workplace. We may negotiate a positive outcome with your employer or, if it’s the right choice for you, help you bring a legal claim against them. We will help ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve under the law and the justice you deserve.

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