The Santa Clarita Valley Chamber of Commerce presented its 2021 employment law update with attorneys Brian Koegle and Michael Fostakowski from Poole, Shaffery, & Koegle in January.
The attorneys have an expertise in employment and labor law, and the discussion has become an annual event for the local business community, but one that’s gained a special focus this year with all the numerous changes prompted by legislation and, of course, COVID-19.
“We are always pleased to partner with Poole, Shaffery, & Koegle for the only full employment law update for the Santa Clarita Valley,” stated Nancy Starczyk, immediate past chair of the SCV Chamber board. “Each year, the chamber provides the platform for our community to familiarize themselves with upcoming law changes for the year and ensure their business is following best practices.”
Fostakowsky and Koegle led a virtual discussion on a number of topics, including an update on COVID-19 regulations in the workplace, changes to employee classifications and a talk about additional new laws scheduled to take effect in 2021 prior to the pandemic, as well as a question-and-answer session.
The information focused on impact for business owners, such as new requirements for companies with more than five employees to provide family and baby bonding leave for workers.
Previously, this requirement only applied to companies with 50 or more employees, Fostakowsky noted, a policy shift that impacted millions of businesses overnight starting Jan. 1.
“This one keeps me up at night. As you know, the prior standard was 50 employees. Now it’s down to five and there’s still some additional requirements in there,” Fostakowsky said. “This is something that I fear I’m going to be very, very busy in 2021 and moving forward as a result of this law.”
Koegle discussed some of the specifics with respect to what is and isn’t a legal policy for an employer to have, as well as some of the more common issues.
“The other thing about the new law is that an employer may not deny any reasonable request of the employee to use qualified sick time …” Koegle explained noting also the employee is not required to provide a note “whatsoever.”
Fostakowsky also discussed certain changes that, if they didn’t know about them, could end up costing a fortune.
Regarding companies able to hire last year, he offered them congratulations, and then a caution:
If you’re not using the right I-9 form, the penalty could be significant: “(If) you’re out of compliance, that I-9 you obtained from the employee is invalidated, and it $1,000 per employee per I-9,” he said. “That is the penalty.”.