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Here’s what’s in store for California businesses in 2022

Clogged supply chains. Hiring is struggling. New mask rules. A virus that has trampled on return to work schedules. The past year has been a mess for many businesses across California.

What does 2022 have in store? Adding to the uncertainty surrounding the pandemic is the question of what policymakers could do for – and for – businesses.

“2022 is going to be a very busy legislative year,” said Jennifer Barrera, CEO of the California Chamber of Commerce.

Here are some of the upcoming challenges for California businesses in 2022.

Pandemic rules and paid leave

The workers were guaranteed extended sick leave for COVID-19 quarantine or side effects of vaccines in the spring of 2021, then saw it run out in September. “It expired, in our minds, at the worst possible time,” said Eduardo Martinez, California Labor Federation legislative director, mentioning the surge of the Delta variant, which apparently peaked at the end of August.

With the Omicron variant on the rise, Los Angeles Democrat Wendy Carrillo has said she is looking for an opportunity to bring back extended COVID-19 sick leave. The last time California received federal assistance to cover costs; this time he would have to go it alone, she said. Pointing to the state forecast budget surplus of $ 31 billion, she said, “There is an opportunity for the governor and the legislature to ensure that the health of the 40 million people across the state of California is a priority. ”

Also potentially on the agenda: legislation to increase the share of their wages that workers receive when they take paid family leave, according to San José Democrat Ash Kalra, who chairs the Assembly’s Labor and Employment Committee. “The current (wage) replacement rate is particularly inadequate for low-wage workers,” Kalra said.

A rate hike was passed by the legislature last year, but Gov. Gavin Newsom vetoed it, saying it would create “significant new costs.” In his veto declarationNewsom said he was eager to join the legislature on the issue of access to family leave.

In 2021, Oakland Democrat Buffy Wicks proposed a bill this would have required all workers to provide proof of vaccination to their employers or submit to weekly tests. A few days later, as the end of the legislative session neared, she put the idea on hold, saying she would take the time to work with her colleagues and stakeholders “to make the bill the right one. as solid as possible by 2022 “.

Since then, the Biden administration has unveiled a need for vaccines for large companies in November, which immediately sparked lawsuits and is now making its way through the legal system, and New York City imposed a vaccine requirement for all in-person workers at private companies.

“We can’t be a New York City,” said Robert Lapsley, president of the California Business Roundtable. “We need flexibility. And hopefully the governor, OSHA, et cetera, will not go down that road. ”

In one August survey Out of 353 small business owners, 59% of employees said they would support a law requiring businesses to mandate vaccines or weekly tests.

It is not known if a similar proposal is in the cards for California. Wicks communications director Erin Ivie wrote that the office was “still reviewing the types of vaccine legislation we hope to introduce in the next session.” When asked if Cal / OSHA plans to roll out a vaccine requirement for all workers, spokeswoman Erika Monterroza said she was not aware of any of those plans.

A spokesperson for the governor’s office said, “We know that boosters are the strongest protection we have against serious illness from COVID-19, which is why the state is demanding that healthcare workers be empowered and encourages all other Californians to protect themselves from the Omicron Variant by being boosted. Health Secretary Dr Mark Ghaly has reported that the state is not on the road to closures.

The ballot is very large

A final list of initiatives that will appear on your ballot in November will not be established for several months. But there are already a few proposals in the pipeline that could impact businesses:

  • Anti-poverty investor-turned-advocate Joe Sanberg propose a measure it would raise California’s minimum wage to $ 18 an hour by 2025, with an additional year for small employers to comply;
  • A proposal aimed at housing affordability that would increase the renters’ income tax credit and increase the amount of value of a property that is tax exempt while increasing taxes on commercial and residential properties by a worth over $ 4 million;
  • And one measure, supported by the California Chamber of Commerce and other business groups, that would repeal a law that allows employees to sue employers for certain labor law violations and receive financial penalties, while requiring the legislature adequately finances those responsible for enforcing labor regulations.

Small businesses, farm workers and taxes

In addition to nearly $ 1.2 billion federal for loans likely to be given to California small businesses, state lawmakers will continue to try to help them, said Corona Democrat Sabrina Cervantes, who chairs the Assembly’s committee on employment and management. economic development. She plans to continue working on a bill it would encourage landlords to give rent relief to small businesses.

The legislature can also revisit how the trade union elections for agricultural workers are conducted. In 2021, Santa Cruz Democrat Mark Stone introduced a bill that would have given workers possibility to fill out the ballot paper at home, rather than requiring them to vote through an in-person election. Newsom vetoed the measure, which opponents said made workers more vulnerable to coercion, becoming the third consecutive California governor to veto such a bill. Stone will continue to work there in 2022, according to his office.

Business groups plan to stir up a stench over debt the California UI fund owes to the federal government, that swelled during the pandemic because more and more workers lost their jobs and received benefits. Unless lawmakers step in, the debt would have to be paid off through a tax hike for businesses that would show up on their 2022 taxes, Barerra said.

A debate over employee data privacy is also on the horizon. Employee data was initially exempt from the Data privacy law passed by Californians in 2020, but that exclusion ends on the first day of 2023, creating a deadline for lawmakers to determine what, if anything, they want to do regarding worker data.

Martinez, of the Federation of Labor, says he is hearing more and more from unions that employers are collection The data on workers without their knowledge or consent. “It is possible to obtain privacy rights for workers in order to combat certain abuses,” Martinez said.

But the ongoing pandemic could disrupt even the most elaborate legislative plans.

“If next year is like the last two years,” Martinez said, “you think you know what you’re working on and then all of a sudden something happens and – no – you’re working on something else.”