Labor and employment attorney Ben Ebbink discusses four of the more important ones for small businesses
Four new laws taking effect in 2023 and 2024 are of particular importance to California small businesses, says one of the state’s foremost labor and employment law attorneys.
Ben Ebbink is a partner in the Sacramento office of Fisher & Phillips LLP. He is also legislative advocate and principal of FP Advocacy LLC. In addition to having two decades of experience in his field, for 15 years Ebbink was chief consultant to the California Assembly Committee on Labor and Employment. He has played a key role in virtually every major labor and employment issue to come before the Legislature during his tenure, and earned a reputation for his integrity, ability to work with diverse stakeholders on all sides, and as a skilled problem-solver.
Ebbink placed Senate Bill 1162 at the top of his list of concerns that small-business owners should have. The new pay transparency law is “a very short statute and not a lot of clarity on what exactly is required.” It also has the potential to lay some Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) traps with penalties as high as $100,000 for a single faulty job posting that failed to contain the proper salary information.
Next up on Ebbink’s list were Assembly Bill 1949 and Assembly Bill 1041, two leave laws. “Leave laws are always challenging for small businesses in particular,” said Ebbink. “They don’t have lots of workers who can fill in.”
Assembly Bill 2188 on employment discrimination based on cannabis use will not take effect until the beginning of 2024, which gives lawmakers some time to refine it, according to Ebbink. “It basically says you can’t take adverse action against employees for lawful, off-duty use of cannabis,” [even] “if they fail [a] metabolite test. This is the kind of test that doesn’t necessarily show THC [Tetrahydrocannabinol ] but it shows metabolite which may be in their system.”
One bill not taking effect on January 1, but was supposed to, is Assembly Bill 257, arguably the most audacious legislation from any state legislature in the nation. It took away the forever-held power of fast-food franchisees to set wage and workplace conditions and would have turned it over to a new state agency. The fast-food industry quickly gathered enough signatures to tentatively qualify a referendum on the November 2024 ballot, which effectively nullifies AB 257 until then.
“Labor is very fond of the approach and if they succeed in the fast-food arena, I think they are going to try and extend that similar approach to other … industries, agriculture to construction to any industry they have … an organizing interest in,” said Ebbink.
In addition to the four bills mentioned in this podcast, NFIB California has targeted 11 more of importance to small business. All 15 can be read here.
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