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Californians brace for changes in employment law

There are a bunch of new laws going into effect on Jan. 1, 2020 in California — and both employers and employees are bracing for the repercussions.

Here’s an overview of some of the big changes to employment laws and employee rights in the new year that you should know if you live or work in the state:

  1. The minimum wage will increase to $13 per hour for employees working for companies with more than 25 employees. Those working for smaller employers will see their minimum wage increase to $12 per hour.
  2. Many independent contractors, including most freelancers and consultants, will now be reclassified as employees. In theory, this is to make certain that “gig workers” have access to paid sick leave, health insurance and a living wage. In practice, it could cause many small businesses to rethink their business plans and hiring strategies. Numerous groups of freelancers and some businesses have already challenged the law.
  3. Exemptions have been carved out of the new laws regarding independent contractors for professionals like physicians, attorneys, realtors, graphic artists and even hairstylists — but only if they have significant autonomy to negotiate their fees and control their workflow.
  4. Employees who are new mothers are now granted a guaranteed eight weeks of postpartum leave, instead of six weeks. In addition, employers are now legally obligated to provide nursing mothers with lactation breaks and a clean, safe environment in which to nurse or pump.

Understanding your rights can be difficult, especially when there have been a lot of recent changes. If you’re uncertain whether or not your rights as an employee have been violated, it’s wise to discuss the issue with an experienced attorney.


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