As the California Legislature continues its deliberations, three bills have sparked intense debates, drawing attention to potential ramifications for employers and workers across the state.
AB 524, championed by Assemblymember Buffy Wicks (D-Oakland), has raised concerns among employers as it seeks to expand litigation under the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA).
The bill asserts that any adverse employment action could be challenged based on an employee’s family caregiver status, with a broad definition that includes anyone contributing to the care of another person of their choosing. Critics argue that this could expose employers to costly litigation, while also imposing a de facto accommodation requirement that might disproportionately burden small businesses.
Another contentious bill, AB 647, sponsored by Assemblymember Chris Holden (D-Pasadena), focuses on grocery workers and the expansion of the statute related to successor grocery employers.
The legislation has drawn criticism for its potential impact on independent small stores, as it disrupts their ability to join together. Furthermore, AB 647 extends the coverage of the law to more workers and creates a significant new private right of action, raising concerns among employers and business owners.
The tweet below verifies the news:
@HRcalifornia CalChamber Releases 2023 Job Killer List. Last week, the California Chamber of Commerce released its 2023 job killer list which, to date, includes 13 bills dealing with labor and employment issues,…
The post… https://t.co/ppAXOs3uII #HR #HCM #compliance pic.twitter.com/jX73DiqFki
— OnePoint Human Capital Management (@OnePointHCM) April 4, 2023
AB 1156, proposed by Assemblymember Rob Bonta (D-Alameda), has faced opposition due to its potential to increase workers’ compensation costs for public and private hospitals. The bill presumes that certain diseases and injuries are caused by the workplace, leading to heightened expenses for medical institutions.
Moreover, critics argue that this could set a worrisome precedent for expanding presumptions into the private sector, with broader implications for employers in other industries.
While these bills have been met with divided opinions, their progress through the legislative process remains uncertain. AB 1156 failed to meet the deadline to move from a policy committee to a fiscal committee, signaling potential challenges ahead for its advancement.
As lawmakers continue their deliberations, stakeholders on both sides of these issues are closely watching the developments, with employer groups expressing concerns about increased liabilities, litigation risks, and financial burdens. On the other hand, workers’ advocates argue that these bills could strengthen protections for employees and ensure fair treatment in the workplace.
The fate of these controversial bills remains to be seen, as the California Legislature grapples with striking a balance between workers’ rights and the concerns of businesses, especially small enterprises, in the state. The outcomes of these legislative battles could have far-reaching consequences for California’s employment landscape.
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