Let’s be frank—we can’t say that hope for a business rebound is around the corner, BUT it is fair to say that hope for the business rebound is on the horizon. The coronavirus, which has done so much to paralyze business in California will be neutralized, medical experts say, once the vaccines have been widely distributed. In the meantime, in preparing for that hopeful day, California small businesses must deal with new laws and rules that took effect at the beginning of the year that change the business landscape. Your businesses must be prepared.
Kabateck Strategies was in the middle of legislative debates to help mold the new laws as best as possible to deal with business concerns while at the same time keeping businesses informed about the changes in the laws.
Working with our client at NFIB, we helped create a checklist of legal changes issued by the Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) dealing with businesses, employees and the coronavirus. Some items to note: employers must have a written Covid-19 prevention plan; employers are responsible for identifying and evaluating Covid-19 hazards; employers must investigate and report Covid-19 exposures; and employers must train workers on procedures on how to be protected from Covid-19. The full information sheet prepared by NFIB on Covid-19 related rules for businesses can be found here. Along with the National Retail Federation, NFIB is challenging the new Cal/OSHA rules in court.
California passed other laws during the recent legislative session that small business owners must be aware of to meet the challenges of the new year. There are also business requirements provided in previously enacted laws that just went into effect such as the increase in the minimum wage. As of January 1, establishments with 25 or more employees must pay $14 an hour; businesses with fewer than 25 employees must pay $13 an hour. Be aware that some local jurisdictions have different standards. In Los Angeles city and county, for example, the minimum wage increases to $15 an hour for all employers on July 1.
Family leave rules have changed that particularly affect small businesses that employ five workers or more. Now, these businesses must meet the same standard applied to companies with 50 or more employees—workers can take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to care for sick family members and still have their jobs waiting for them when they return.
Small business also has to mind the disparities and exemptions carved into the AB 5 gig worker laws. At a time of economic disruption due to the coronavirus, small businesses often rely on contract workers to survive. Some contract workers are exempted from a number of California labor requirements under AB 5, but others are not. Small businesses should be aware of the classification of people who work for them.
To say the least, 2020 has not been easy for business. 2021 will be better but business owners must deal with the new laws and rule changes that are now in effect. Kabateck Strategies is ready to help. In the meantime, to borrow a slogan that helped people get through a difficult time when the world was at war: Keep Calm and Carry On!