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January 1, 2021

California Law and 2021 Minimum Wage Updates

California Law Updates and California Minimum Wage Updates (2021)

Several new or amended employment laws take effect in California on January 1, 2021, including mandatory child abuse reporting, expanded crime victim leave, and increased minimum wages and exempt employee salaries.

California Law Update: Mandated Reporting Training

Employees who supervise and directly interact with minors, as well as "HR employees," have been added to California’s list of “mandated reporters.” However, these employees are only mandated reporters if the organization has five or more employees and employs at least one minor. Mandated reporters are obligated to report known or suspected child abuse and neglect, and/or sexual abuse, to any of several state or county agencies. Failure to report is a crime.

HR employees are defined as the employee or employees designated by the employer to accept any complaints of misconduct. This means that if your harassment or complaint policy directs employees to report acts of discrimination or harassment to their manager or supervisor, the CEO, a Board member, or any other non-HR person, that person is now a mandated reporter under the law.

Employers of these newly mandated reporters must provide them with training on identifying and reporting child abuse and neglect. The state provides compliant online trainings here. Time spent taking the training is considered hours worked and must be paid.

Employers must also collect a signed acknowledgment form related to these duties from each employee who is a mandated reporter. A template is available here.   

The law does not say when the training must be completed, but since the duty to report takes effect immediately on January 1 and failure to report can have significant penalties, we would recommend training current employees as soon as possible and including this training as part of any new “HR employee” onboarding.

California Law Update: Crime Victim Leave

Previously, employers of all sizes were required to provide job-protected leave to victims of stalking, domestic violence, and sexual assault. That law has now been amended to include victims of any crime that caused physical or mental injury or a threat of physical injury. The law entitles employees who are victims to take time off from work to “obtain any relief.” This includes, but isn’t limited to, taking steps to ensure their or their child’s health, safety, or welfare, such as by trying to get a restraining order.

In this California law update, employees are also entitled to leave if their family member has died because of a crime. For purposes of this law, “family member” includes children, parents, spouses, and siblings as well as anyone who has an equivalent close association with the employee. See the laws page in the HR Support Center for a full list of family members.

As with the current crime victim leave law, employers may require reasonable advance notice of the need for leave, if notice is feasible, and if the employee isn’t able to give advance notice, the employer can require documentation. However, the law now states that a signed statement from the employee that their absence was for a covered reason is acceptable documentation.

Finally, employers with 25 or more employees are now required to provide leave to all crime victims for reasons similar to those previously required only for sexual assault and domestic abuse victims (e.g., medical attention, counseling, safety planning).

Employers should update their policies to ensure these changes are incorporated.

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California Law Update: California Family Rights Act Reminder

As we reported in September, significant amendments to the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) take effect on January 1. Most notably, CFRA will apply to employers with five or more employees.

CFRA requires covered employers to provide up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave to eligible employees for certain reasons, such as baby bonding. Additional details can be found on the HR Support Center by typing “CFRA” into the search bar.

To be compliant with this California law update, employers are required to post a notice about employees’ CFRA rights. A compliant notice will be provided by the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH), but it has not updated the current CFRA notice with the new information yet. We recommend checking the DFEH website periodically; we expect it will be available before January 1.

California Law Update: Pay Data Reporting

Beginning next year, employers with 100 or more employees will need to report pay data annually to the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH). The first deadline is March 31, 2021. The DFEH has created an extensive FAQ that is available here, and additional guidance will be provided by regulations released in the new year. 

Minimum Wages and Salaries

California Minimum Wage: Statewide Minimum Wage 

On January 1, California’s minimum wage will increase to $14 per hour for employers with 26 or more employees and $13 per hour for employers with 25 or fewer employees.

For 2020 and the next three years, the state-wide minimum wage will be as shown in the table below:

Effective Date

Employers with 25 of Fewer Employees

Employers with 26 or More Employees

January 1, 2020

12.00

13.00

January 1, 2021

13.00

14.00

January 1, 2022

14.00

15.00

January 1, 2023

15.00

15.00

California Minimum Wage: Exempt Employee Minimum Salaries and Wages

The California minimum salary threshold for exempt employees will increase to $1,120 per week ($58,240 per year) for employers with 26 or more employees, and $1,040 per week ($54,080 per year) for employees with 25 or fewer employees.

The minimum rate for exempt computer software employees will increase to $47.48 per hour.

The minimum rate for exempt licensed physicians and surgeons paid on an hourly basis will increase to $86.49 per hour.

California Minimum Wage: Local Minimum Wages

The minimum wage will also increase in the following cities:

Item 1

Locality/City

Minimum Wage in USD

1

Belmont

15.90

2

Burlingame

15.00

3

Cupertino

15.65

4

Daly City

15.00

5

El Cerrito

15.61

6

Half Moon Bay

15.00

7

Hayward (26 or more employees)

15.00

8

Hayward (25 or fewer employees)

14.00

9

Los Altos

15.65

10

Menlo Park

15.25

11

Mountain View

16.30

12

Novato (100 or more employees)

15.24

13

Novato (26–99 employees)

15.00

14

Novato (1–25 employees)

14.00

15

Oakland

14.36

16

Palo Alto

15.65

17

Petaluma

15.20

18

Redwood City

15.62

19

Richmond

15.21

20

San Carlos

15.24

21

San Diego

14.00

22

San José

15.45

23

San Mateo

15.45

24

Santa Clara

15.62

25

Santa Rosa

15.20

26

Sonoma (26 or more employees)

15.00

27

Sonoma (25 or fewer employees)

14.00

28

South San Francisco

15.24

29

Sunnyvale

15.24

Related Posts

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New Back-to-School FFCRA Guidance from the DOL

The Paycheck Protection Program for small businesses

Families First Coronavirus Response Act

Felix Mwania


I live in the intersection of technology and entrepreneurship. I am a technology enthusiast but my passion is helping small businesses succeed, including mine. When I am not working, you will find me goofing with my wife and kids. When not with family and/or friends, you will find me doing some home improvement projects.

Felix Mwania

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