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Recently Signed California Bills Continue to Expand Employee Benefits

The California Legislature and Governor Jerry Brown have been busy over the past few months passing and signing new bills into law. The recently enacted legislation will keep employers and human resources professionals on their toes when they take effect.

SB 3

SB 3 increases the statewide minimum wage to $15.00 per hour. This increase will be phased in over the next six years. For employers with 26 or more employees, the increases will take place as follows: January 1, 2017, $10.50; January 1, 2018, $11.00; January 1, 2019, $12.00; January 1, 2020, $13.00; January 1, 2021, $14.00; and, January 1, 2022, $15.00

For employers with 25 or fewer employees, each yearly scheduled increase comes one year later, beginning on January 1, 2018, and capping out on January 1, 2023.


AB908, which becomes effective January 1, 2017, will increase the benefits provided to individuals in the Paid Family Leave (PFL) and State Disability Insurance (SDI) programs. The new law is applicable for periods of disability commencing on or after January 1, 2018, and expands the level of bene ts from 55 percent to either 60 or 70 percent, depending on the applicant’s income.

The PFL program provides up to six weeks of wage replacement benefits to employees who take time off work to care for a seriously ill or injured family member or to bond with a minor child (one year old or younger) or upon the adoption of a child or placement of a foster care child. The SDI program provides bene ts to individuals who are unable to work due to their own illness or injury.


Current law prohibits smoking tobacco products inside an enclosed space, such as a place of employment. This will change on January 1, 2017, because ABX2-7 will expand the prohibition on smoking in the workplace. The new law will eliminate most of the previous exemptions, which permitted smoking in certain work environments, such as hotel lobbies, bars and taverns, banquet rooms, warehouse facilities and employee break rooms.

With these new laws going into effect at the beginning of the year, employers should begin now to plan for their implementation. This may include updating handbooks, posting notices and changing workplace facilities.

© 2020 Wilson ElserNational Law Review, Volume VI, Number 222


About this Author

Jacqueline Harding, Employment Attorney, Wilson Elser Law Firm

Jacqueline Harding is well regarded for her service as chair of the firm’s Pro Bono Committee and her involvement in professional activities devoted to the advancement of women and minority attorneys. Jackie’s law practice focuses on labor and employment law in addition to product liability, business and health care litigation. In her practice, Jackie represents clients in state and federal courts, arbitrations, mediations, civil service commission hearings, EEOC/DFEH administrative hearings, and labor commission and OSHA hearings. She has litigated several class action lawsuits brought...