January 2021 Legal Updates

2020 is finally over but that doesn’t mean you should relax just yet! Here are Legal Updates that are Effective as of January 1st 2021. Remember to check all the states that you have employees in!


  • Arizona Minimum Wage Increases to $12.15 : the minimum wage in Arizona increases to $12.15 per hour
  • Flagstaff, Arizona, Minimum Wage Increases to $15.00: Flagstaff, Arizona, increases to $15.00 per hour or $2.00 above the Arizona minimum wage, whichever is greater, on January 1, 2021


  • California Requires Expanded Sexual Harassment Prevention Training: California has expanded its sexual harassment prevention training requirements to include any employer that employs five or more employees (to include temporary or seasonal employees).
  • California Enacts Notice and Reporting Requirements for Potential COVID-19 Exposure: Provide a written notice to all employees who were on the premises at the same worksite as a qualifying individual; Provide all employees who may have been exposed with information regarding COVID-19-related benefits entitled under applicable federal, state or local law and options for exposed employees; Notify all employees of the disinfection and safety plan that the employer plans to implement and complete per CDC guidelines
  • California HR Professionals Subject to Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act: HR professionals and adults who supervise minors who are employed by covered employers: Are considered mandated reporters under the Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act; and Must receive child abuse and neglect reporting training.
  • California Employers Directing Employees to Remain After Notice to Vacate Subject to Criminal Charges: it a crime for a person, after receiving notice to evacuate or leave, to willfully and knowingly direct an employee to remain in, or enter, an area closed due to a menace to the public health or safety.
  • California Kin Care Leave Law Amended: California’s kin care leave law is amended to provide that designation of sick leave under the law is at the sole discretion of the employee
  • California Amends Paid Family Leave Definitions: amended in regard to qualifying exigencies, including Care recipient; Care provider; and Military member.
  • California OSHA Amends Enforcement Procedures in Response to COVID-19: If Cal/OSHA suspends operations or restricts access to a worksite because it determines the place of employment, operation or process, or any part of it, exposes workers to the risk of COVID-19 infection so as to constitute an imminent hazard to employees, Cal/OSHA will send a notice to the employer that must be conspicuously posted by the employer in its workplace. Cal/OSHA may issue a citation alleging a serious violation without having to solicit information rebutting the presumption of a serious violation.
  • California Family Rights Act Expanded, New Parent Leave Act Repealed: California Family Rights Act (CFRA) is amended to apply to employers with five or more employees (previously 50 or more). In addition, the New Parent Leave Act, applicable to employers with 20-49 employees, is repealed. 
  • California Family Leave Mediation Pilot Program Takes Effect: employers with between five and 19 employees may, within 30 days of receiving a right-to-sue-letter for alleged violations of the California Family Rights Act, request all parties to participate in the Department of Fair Employment and Housing’s family leave mediation pilot program. An employee is not allowed to pursue a civil claim in court until the mediation is complete.
  • California Requires Annual Pay Data Reporting: employers that have 100 or more employees and are required to file an annual EEO-1 report must submit an annual pay data report to the state Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH). The first pay data report is due by March 31, 2021, for the calendar year 2020 pay data. 
  • California Retaliation Enforcement Amendments Take Effect: California law extends the time to file a claim of retaliation and/or violations of the Labor Code from six months to one year after the occurrence of the violation.
  • California Expands Paid Family Leave to Include Qualifying Military Exigencies: an employee may claim paid family leave insurance benefits if he or she is unable to work due to participation in a qualifying exigency related to the covered active duty or call to covered active duty of the employee’s spouse, domestic partner, child or parent who is in the US Armed Forces.
  • California No-Rehire Exception in Settlement Agreements Broadened: The expanded exception includes instances when an employer before the employee makes the complaint, has made and documented a good faith determination that the employee engaged in criminal conduct. This is in addition to existing exceptions that apply when an employee has been found to have engaged in sexual harassment or sexual assault.
  • Minimum Wage Increases; California Minimum Wage Increases to $14.00 for employers with 26+ employees and $13.00 for employers with 25 or fewer employees
  • Half Moon Bay, California, Increased to $15.00 per hour.
  • Sunnyvale, California, increases to $16.30 per hour.
  • Hayward, California, takes effect  $15.00 for large employers with 26 or more employees; $14.00 for small employers with 25 or fewer employees.
  • San Carlos, California, takes effect at $15.24 per hour
  • Cupertino, California, increased to  $15.65 per hour
  • Burlingame, California, takes effect at $15.00 per hour.
  • Novato, California, Minimum Wage Increases to $15.24 for Very Large Employers (100+), to $15.00 for Large Employers (26 – 99), and to $14.00 for Small Employers (Less than 26)
  • Richmond, California, Minimum Wage Increases to $15.21
  • Oakland, California, Minimum Wage Increases to $14.36
  • Santa Rosa, California, Minimum Wage Increases to $15.20
  • San Jose, California, Minimum Wage Increases to $15.45
  • South San Francisco, California, Minimum Wage Increases to $15.24
  • El Cerrito, California, Minimum Wage Increases to $15.61
  • Daly City, California, Minimum Wage Increases to $15.00
  • Redwood City, California, Minimum Wage Increases to $15.62
  • Santa Clara, California, Minimum Wage Increases to $15.65
  • Belmont, California, Minimum Wage Increases to $15.90
  • Menlo Park, California, Minimum Wage Increases to $15.25
  • Los Altos, California, Minimum Wage Increases to $15.65
  • San Mateo, California, Minimum Wage Increases to $15.62
  • Mountain View, California, Minimum Wage Increases to $16.30
  • Sonoma, California, Minimum Wage Increases to $15.00 for Large Employers, $14.00 for Small Employers


  • Colorado Expands Equal Pay Law: The Equal Pay for Equal Work Act (the Act) amends the state equal pay law, enhances wage transparency requirements, restricts salary history inquiries and imposes notice requirements in an effort to prevent pay disparities.
  • Colorado Minimum Wage Increases to $12.32: the minimum wage in Colorado increases from $12.00 to $12.32 ;The minimum direct cash wage for tipped employees increases from $8.98 to $9.30
  • Denver, Colorado, Minimum Wage Increases to $14.77; Minimum wage in Denver, Colorado, increases from $12.85 per hour to $14.77 per hour. The maximum tip credit is $3.02 per hour; as a result, the minimum direct cash wage for food and beverage workers increases from $9.83 per hour to $11.75 per hour.
  • Colorado Paid Sick Leave Law Takes Effect: under the Healthy Families and Workplace Act, Colorado employers with 16 or more employees are required to provide paid sick and safe leave to eligible employees. Employees accrue at least one hour of paid sick and safe time for every 30 hours worked, up to 48 hours each year.
  • Colorado Overtime and Minimum Pay Standards (COMPS) Order #37 Modifications Take Effect: Expands the minimum wage and overtime exemption for professional employees to cover creative professionals in addition to learned professionals, and to include an express element that exempt professionals have a primary duty of work that requires the “consistent exercise of discretion and judgment, as distinguished from routine mental, manual, mechanical or physical work”;
    • Amends the minimum wage and overtime exemption for administrative employees to require that they directly serve an executive, rather than the executive, in order to clarify that an executive may be not only a CEO, owner or other top-level official but also a low- to mid-level manager who supervises two or more employees, including in manual or low-level work;
    • Eliminates the requirement that drivers and drivers’ helpers cross state lines to qualify for an exemption from the state overtime and meal and rest break requirements; and
    • Amends the definitions of employer and employee to conform with the Healthy Families and Workplaces Act (HFWA).


  • Connecticut Requires Expanded Sexual Harassment Prevention Training*: By February 9, 2021, employers must provide compliant sexual harassment prevention training as follows: All employers must provide the training to supervisors, and Employers with three or more employees must provide the training to all employees in addition to supervisors. Employers that have provided compliant training and education to covered employees after October 1, 2018, are not required to provide the training and education a second time. The original deadline for providing compliant training was October 1, 2020. Due to COVID-19, an extension to February 9, 2021, was approved.

*Not January 1st but that February Deadline is close!

  • Connecticut Requires Payroll Deductions to Fund Paid Family and Medical Leave Benefits: The Connecticut Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML) Act requires all Connecticut employers to make deductions from the pay of eligible employees to fund PFML benefits.
    • Beginning January 1, 2021, an employer must withhold no more than 0.5% of a covered employee’s earnings, until those earnings reach the annual Social Security taxable wage base in effect. Employers do not make any financial contribution. The withheld amounts must be remitted by an employer to the Paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance Authority (the Authority) no later than February 1, 2021.
    • The benefits, which are paid by the state, will become available to covered employees beginning January 1, 2022. An employer must provide written notice of PFML rights to new employees, and annually after that, beginning July 1, 2022.

The Authority is expected to issue implementing regulations.


  • Florida Minimum Wage Increases to $8.65
  • Florida Amends Employment Eligibility Verification Requirements, Requires Public Contractors and Subcontractors to Use E-Verify: after an individual accepts an employment offer made by a private employer, the employer must verify the individual’s employment eligibility by: Using the E-Verify system; or Requiring the individual to provide the same documentation that is required by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services on its Employment Eligibility Verification Form (Form I-9).
    • In addition, all contractors and subcontractors working on a public contract are required to register with and use the E-Verify system to verify the work authorization status of all newly hired employees. A public employer, contractor or subcontractor may not enter into a contract unless each party to the contract registers with and uses the E-Verify system.


  • Hawaii Changes Domestic Violence Leave Documentation Requirements: The documentation an employer may request from an employee to verify that they are a victim of domestic or sexual violence is repealed and changed. An employer may request the following: Certified or exemplified restraining orders, injunctions against harassment, and documents from criminal cases;
    • Documentation from a victim services organization or domestic or sexual violence program, agency or facility, including a shelter or safe house for victims of domestic or sexual violence; or
    • Documentation from a medical professional, mental health care provider, attorney, advocate, social worker or member of the clergy from whom the employee or the employee’s minor child has sought assistance in relation to the domestic or sexual violence.


  • Minneapolis, Minnesota, Freelance Worker Protections Ordinance Takes Effect: the Minneapolis Freelance Worker Protections Ordinance regulates covered businesses hiring freelance workers to perform services within the City of Minneapolis. The ordinance: Requires contracts between hiring parties and freelance workers to be in writing; Requires hiring parties to make timely payments; and Contains retaliation protections.
  • Minnesota Minimum Wage Increases to $10.08 ($8.21 for Small Employers, Others): the minimum wage for large employers in Minnesota increases from $10.00 per hour to $10.08 per hour. The minimum wage rates for small employers and for certain youths, trainees and summer work travel exchange visitor program participants increase from $8.15 per hour to $8.21 per hour.


  • St. Louis, Missouri, Bans the Box for Private Employers: St. Louis ordinance prohibits an employer in the city with 10 or more employees from basing a hiring or promotional decision on a job applicant’s criminal history or related sentence, unless the employer can demonstrate that the: 
    • Employment-related decision is based on all information available, including the frequency, recentness and severity of the criminal history; and
    • History is reasonably related to the duties and responsibilities of the position.
    • An employer may inquire about a job applicant’s criminal history only:
    • After determining that the applicant is otherwise qualified for the position;
    • After the applicant has been interviewed for the position; and
    • If such an inquiry is made of all applicants in the final selection pool from which the position will be filled.
    • Additionally,an employer may not:
    • Publish job advertisements excluding applicants based on criminal history;
    • Include statements excluding applicants based on criminal history in job application forms and other employer-generated hiring forms;
    • Inquire into or require applicants to disclose their criminal history on initial job application forms and other employer-generated initial phase hiring forms; or
    • Seek to obtain publicly available information concerning a job applicant’s criminal history.
    • These restrictions do not apply to jobs or positions where federal, state or St. Louis laws or regulations prohibit employers from employing individuals with certain criminal histories.
  • Missouri Minimum Wage Increases to $10.30

New Jersey:

  • New Jersey Legalizes Recreational Marijuana: the recreational use of marijuana (cannabis) by adults aged 21 and over is legal in New Jersey. 
  • New Jersey Minimum Wage Increases to $12.00 ($11.10 for Small and Seasonal Employers): minimum wage in New Jersey increases from $11.00 to $12.00 for large employers and from $10.30 to $11.10 for small employers and seasonal employers. The tip credit remains $7.87.

New York:

  • New York Paid Family Leave Benefits Duration and Rate Increase to 12 Weeks and 67%: employees are eligible to receive 12 weeks of paid family leave (PFL) benefits during any 52-week calendar period at 67% of their average weekly wage, up from 10 weeks at 60%.
  • New York Paid Sick Leave Begins: employees may begin using accrued sick leave on January 1, 2021. Employees may begin accruing sick leave effective September 30, 2020.
    • Employees accrue one hour of sick leave for every 30 hours worked, up to certain hourly limits per year depending on the number of employees their employer has. The law provides for both sick and safe leave.
  • New York City Paid Sick Leave Increases for Certain Employees: effective September 30, 2020, include increasing the amount of paid sick leave for certain employees, including domestic workers. However, the increased amounts must be provided beginning January 1, 2021, to: Employees of an employer with four or fewer employees and a net income of more than $1 million; and Employees of an employer with 100 or more employees.


  • Virginia Independent Contractor Misclassification Law Takes Effect: Virginia applies Internal Revenue Service (IRS) guidelines to determine whether a worker is an independent contractor or an employee under the: Labor and employment laws (Va. Code Ann. Title 40.1), including the Virginia Minimum Wage Act and the child labor laws; The Virginia Unemployment Compensation Act; The Virginia Workers’ Compensation Act; and State tax laws.
    • Workers are presumed to be employees unless they or the employer can demonstrate they are independent contractors. The law also establishes anti-retaliation provisions and penalties for employers that misclassify workers.
  • Virginia Amends Unemployment Tax Law: The definition of taxable wages for state unemployment purposes does not include any payment made to, or on behalf of, an employee or the employee’s beneficiary under a cafeteria plan, as defined in § 125 of the Internal Revenue Code (IRC), if the payment would not be treated as wages under the IRC;
    • All employers are required to file state unemployment contribution and wage reports electronically (currently, only employers with 100 or more employees must file electronically); and
    • A new Virginia employing unit must establish an account with the state Employment Security Commission and file a contribution and wage report by the end of the calendar quarter in which it begins employment in the state.


  • Seattle, Washington, Payroll Expense Tax Takes Effect: Seattle employers are required to pay a tax based on their total annual payroll expense, meaning the compensation paid to covered Seattle employees and independent contractors. The tax is only paid by employers; no deductions are made from the compensation of employees to cover the tax. Certain types of employers are exempt.
    • The first tax payment and report, for 2021, is due by January 31, 2022. After that, the tax is collected and reported on a quarterly basis. Employers subject to the tax must keep and maintain relevant books, records and tax returns for five years after a return is filed.
  • Washington Requires Sexual Harassment and Assault Prevention Program for Employers of Isolated Workers: The law covers employers in the hotel, motel, retail, security guard and property services contractor industries.
    • The law covers an employee who: Spends a majority of work hours alone, or whose primary work responsibility involves working without another co-worker present; and Is employed by a covered employer as a: Janitor; Security guard; Hotel or motel housekeeper; or Room service attendant. Hotels and motels with 60 or more rooms are required to comply by January 1, 2020.
  • Seattle, Washington, Minimum Wage Increases: minimum wage in Seattle increases to $16.69 for Schedule 1 Employers and to $15.00 for Schedule 2 Employers. The hourly minimum compensation for Schedule 2 Employers is $16.69, the same as the inflation-adjusted minimum wage for Schedule 1 Employers.
  • Washington Minimum Wage Increases to $13.69 

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