Addressing Inequities

AB 1177: Convenes state commission to study creating a free public banking option
This bill, called the California Public Banking Option Act, requires the State Treasurer to convene the CalAccount Blue Ribbon Commission (“Commission”) by September 1, 2022.  The Commission will obtain a market analysis by July 1, 2024 to determine the feasibility of a “CalAccount Program.”

The CalAccount program would offer Californians access to a voluntary, zero-fee, zero-penalty, federally insured transaction account.  The purpose is to enable low-income workers to use basic financial services and tools, such as debit cards, direct deposit, and bill-pay, while protecting them from the fees and sometimes exploitative practices of non-bank check cashers and payday lenders.

SB 390: Requires the Employment Development Department (EDD) to make a recession plan
This bill requires EDD to develop a plan to prepare for an increase in unemployment insurance claims in the event of a recession, including identifying lessons learned from previous economic downturns; identifying ways to improve self-services to avoid long wait times to speak to staff; and enhancing claims processing to ensure that identity verification is “as robust as possible.”  The deadline for EDD to provide the plan to legislative committees and the state Department of Finance is March 1, 2022.  Every two years thereafter, EDD must update the plan.

AB 628: Modifies the Breaking Barriers to Employment Initiative program to address racial and ethnic inequities in the labor force
The Breaking Barriers to Employment Initiative program includes a grant program administered by the California Workforce Development Board to support education and training activities. This bill provides that the program should strive to address racial and ethnic inequity in the labor force and to enhance racial and economic justice, and that the program’s projects should create pipelines to quality jobs for workers historically excluded from them.  The bill revises the grant application requirements and grant selection criteria consistent with these goals.

AB 941: Establishes resource centers to educate and assist farmworkers
AB 941 creates a program to provide farmworkers in each county with a hub for access in at least Spanish and English to information, resources, and services.  Under this law, the Department of Community Services and Development (CSD) will establish a grant program providing funding for counties to establish farmworker resource centers.  The resource centers will provide assistance in filing paperwork with all public agencies that could serve the population, providing referrals, as well as information related to labor and employment rights, education, housing, immigration and health and human services.   Resource centers must provide an assessment of the population the center would serve, including an assessment of languages other than English or Spanish that should be accommodated by the center, and maintain a cost-effective database to track calls and referrals.

SB 321: Convenes an advisory committee to develop health and safety standards for domestic workers
SB 321 requires the Chief of the Division of Occupational Safety and Health to convene an advisory committee to create the first-ever guidelines for the health and safety of domestic workers in California.  The Committee will be tasked with making recommendations to the Department of Industrial Relations and the California Legislature regarding policies the state may adopt to protect the health and safety of domestic service workers, and developing voluntary guidance for the purpose of educating domestic workers and employers.  According to estimates, there are more than 300,000 domestic workers in California, and more than 2 million households who depend on their labor and care.

The bill requires the Division of Occupational Safety and Health to post the report to its internet website and submit a copy to the Legislature no later than January 1, 2023.

AB 313: Increases employment opportunities for people with disabilities in State government
AB 313 increases employment opportunities for people with disabilities within the California State government by requiring each State agency to develop a reasonable accommodation policy for people with disabilities.  The bill further requires the Department of Human Resources (CalHR) to develop a model reasonable accommodation policy and to annually review and modify affirmative action plans submitted by State agencies for employing people with disabilities.  By December 2025, CalHR must also report to the Legislature the number of people with disabilities hired by each appointing authority, the agencies or departments required to submit corrective affirmative action plans, and recommendations for future efforts to improve the hiring of people with disabilities.

SB 639: Ends subminimum wages for workers with disabilities
Commencing on January 1, 2025, or when a multi-year phase-out plan is released, whichever is later, SB 639 would prohibit employers from paying workers with disabilities less than the minimum wage.  Current law allows the Industrial Welfare Commission to issue special licenses to employers that permit them to pay workers with disabilities less than the state minimum wage.

SB 639 would prohibit new special licenses from being issued after January 1, 2022, and would require the State Council on Developmental Disabilities, in consultation with stakeholders and state agencies, to develop a multi-year plan by January 1, 2023, to pay employees with disabilities no less than the state minimum wage.  The plan will include a list of resources to ensure employees with disabilities can receive services based on their needs.  Eight states and several cities have already ended subminimum wages for workers with disabilities.

December 16, 2021

Legal Developments