Chamber of Commerce Urges California to Ease Restrictions on Employers
The California Chamber of Commerce and nearly 200 other organizations joined in a January 13 letter to the Governor and the leadership of the state Senate and Assembly, urging them to stave off a growing exodus of businesses by loosening the California’s regulatory yoke on employers.
In the letter, the Chamber encouraged that the Governor “take executive action immediately” to relieve small employers of new regulatory compliance obligations under the California Family Rights Act. As we reported here, on January 1, employers with as few as five employees became subject to CFRA’s extensive leave requirements. The Chamber noted “small employers should be temporarily spared the cost and burden of new compliance with the extensive leave under CFRA while they are coping with the challenges of the pandemic.”
Additionally, the Chamber urged the Governor to eliminate certain mandatory wage payments for employees excluded from the workplace, reasoning that such payments are an onerous burden in light of last year’s SB 1159, which provides employees with paid time off under the workers’ compensation system.
After shifting its focus from the Governor, the Chamber encouraged the Legislature to allow for increased scheduling flexibility. Noting the realities of telecommuting—where some employees now have the freedom to choose to work extra hours on one day so they can skip a day or finish early on another—the Chamber pointed to existing state laws that may subject employers to penalties and fines for allowing such a flexible work schedule, which is preferred by both the employee and the employer.
Then, addressing PAGA (the much-maligned Private Attorneys General Act, or as we refer to it, Prettymuch All Goes to the Attorneys), the Chamber noted the lightning-paced changes businesses have adapted to over the last year, including: reductions in force; work from home transitions; implementing COVID sick pay; and a never-ending stream of federal, state, and local safety regulations. Noting employer fears amid a constant threat of employment litigation, the Chamber asked the Legislature to either temporarily suspend PAGA or reform it to reduce the likelihood of abusive lawsuits brought to “victimize businesses” who are already suffering in the wake of COVID-19 [see our reporting here.]”