Release: Stronger CA 2020 Legislative Wins Address Critical Needs of Women, Workers, and Families during and after COVID-19
October 2. 2020
For Immediate Release
Oct 2, 2020
Jess Eagle, Communications Manager
Equal Rights Advocates
SACRAMENTO — Today a network of more than 50 California nonprofits and advocacy groups announced major policy wins from a 2020 legislative agenda that will address the most pressing needs of California workers, women, and low-income families in the wake of COVID-19 and the resulting economic crisis.
Known as the Stronger California Advocates Network, the groups work in partnership with members of the California Legislative Women’s Caucus every year to support policies that advance economic security for working women and families. Legislative wins from this year’s agenda address the ongoing needs of low-income families that have been highlighted and exacerbated by the pandemic by advancing equal pay; expanding access to the state’s Paid Family Leave system and granting more workers the right to family leave to care for a sick family member or new child; ensuring robust protections against workplace retaliation for those who report sexual harassment, discrimination, and other workplace violations; and ensuring more equitable access to tax credits for immigrant taxpayers without documentation; and more.
“These new laws will help workers, families, and people across genders live more economically secure lives,” said Jessica Ramey Stender, Stronger California Advocates Network Co-Chair & Senior Counsel at Equal Rights Advocates. “This Stronger California community power has driven policy and budget wins over the past 5 years, helping millions of Californians and sparking similar change in states across the country. Our 2020 victories will help protect our most vulnerable communities during the current economic crisis and future recovery.”
The following Stronger California Advocates Network 2020 priorities were signed into law:
- SB 973 (Jackson) – Pay Data Reporting to Close the Gender and Race Wage Gaps
Requires California employers with 100 employees or more to submit an annual pay data report to the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) outlining the compensation and hours worked of its employees by gender, race, ethnicity, and job category. This will enable state agencies to more efficiently identify patterns of wage disparities to better enforce state equal pay and anti-discrimination laws, and encourage employers to analyze their own pay and hiring practices to ensure they are fair and lawful. It also gives the DFEH the authority to enforce the California Fair Pay Act in coordination with the Department of Labor Standards Enforcement.
- AB 1947 (Kalra) – Worker Retaliation Claims
Advances workers’ access to justice by extending the time period to file retaliation complaints with the Labor Commissioner from 6 months to 1 year. It will also help to ensure that low-wage workers are able to obtain legal assistance specifically for whistleblower complaints, by allowing prevailing workers to recover attorneys’ fees.
- SB 1383 (Jackson) – Ensuring Job Protection for Paid Family Leave
Currently most California workers pay into the state’s Paid Family Leave program through automatic paycheck deductions, but about 40% of them — disproportionately low-paid workers and workers of color — are unable to take Paid Family Leave through the program when they need to, because it does not include job protection. This law will provide job protection so everyone who works for an employer with at least 5 employees can take Paid Family Leave to care for a sick family member, attend to their own health, or bond with a new child, without risking losing their job.
- AB 1876 (Reyes) – California Earned Income Tax Credit & Young Child Tax Credit Expansion to Immigrant Tax Filers
Builds on this year’s earlier Stronger California budget win by ensuring full inclusion of Californians in the California Earned Income Tax Credit, including those who use an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) to file taxes, many of whom are immigrants without citizenship documentation.
These legislative victories build on earlier 2020 Stronger California budget wins, including these budget allocations:
- Child care – Protects and expands child care for essential workers and provides financial resources to child care programs open during the pandemic
- CalEITC – Expands eligibility for the CA Earned Income Tax Credit & the Young Child Tax Credit — proven anti-poverty tools — to ITIN filers with a child under 6.
- CalWORKs – Provides people with the full set of CalWORKs (cash assistance) benefits and services for the full 60 months allowed under federal law.
- SSI/SSP – Preserves the Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) for low income Californians receiving SSI/SSP (social security) benefits.
The following Stronger California Advocates Network priorities bills were not signed into law, but we remain determined to advance these important policies next year:
- SB 1257 (Durazo) – The Health and Safety for All Workers Act (vetoed)
This bill would provide basic health and safety workplace protections to California’s 300,000 domestic workers by eliminating the racist and sexist “household domestic service” exclusion from Labor Code §6303 (Cal/OSHA), California’s occupational health and safety (Cal/OSHA) requirements for employers to provide a safe working environment. The term “household domestic service” is not defined and there is no legislative history to help explain why the exclusion was added. This bill would have removed a historical exclusion that has no justification in today’s economy and is particularly egregious considering the occupational health and safety hazards domestic workers are currently facing during the COVID-19 crisis.
- SB 1399 (Durazo) – The Garment Worker Protection Act (not passed by legislature)
This bill would have strengthened current law to better protect garment workers from wage theft, end the piece-wage, and ensure that employers throughout the supply chain are held responsible for nonpayment of wages.
- AB 3216 (Kalra) – Job Protections for Working Families Impacted by COVID-19 (vetoed)
This bill would have provided a right of recall and retention for workers in the four industries most heavily impacted by COVID to ensure that those who were laid off or furloughed during the pandemic could be the first in line to reclaim their positions. This protects against discrimination in the rehiring process, as well as retaliation for whistleblowers and those who previously spoke out against discrimination, harassment, and other workplace violations.
- AB 2999 (Low) – Bereavement Leave (not passed by legislature)
This bill would have provided workers with up to 10 days of unpaid, job-protected bereavement leave upon the death of a close family member. Under current law, workers could be fired for taking even one day off after the death of a close family member.