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Key Bills For Private Schools To Watch In 2023
The California Legislature has been busy this session! A number of bills that will affect private schools if they become law are currently working their way through the Legislature. The following are some of the key bills that could take effect on January 1, 2024.
Assembly Bill 452 (AB 452) – Childhood Sexual Assault: Statute of Limitations
AB 452 would eliminate the time limits for an individual who experienced childhood sexual assault occurring on or after January 1, 2024 to commence a claim for the recovery of damages. AB 452 applies to claims brought by the individual against (1) the person who committed the childhood sexual assault, and (2) a person or entity who owed the individual a duty of care if the person or entity’s wrongful or negligent act was a legal cause of the individual’s childhood sexual assault. Though an individual who experienced childhood sexual assault on or after January 1, 2024, would generally be able to bring a claim for damages at any time, AB 452 includes separate, specific requirements for individuals who bring claims on or after their 40th birthday.
Assembly Bill 659 (AB 659) – Cancer Prevention Act
AB 659, or the Cancer Prevention Act, would declare that it is California’s public policy to recommend that pupils be fully immunized against human papillomavirus (HPV) before admission or advancement to the eighth grade. AB 659 would require private elementary and secondary schools to provide every pupil admitted to or advancing to the sixth grade and their parents or guardians a written notification advising that the pupil be fully immunized against HPV before admission or advancement to the eighth grade.
Assembly Bill 299 (AB 299) – Hazing: Educational Institutions: Civil Liability: Resources
AB 299 would require the California Department of Education to make certain anti-hazing resources available on its website on or before July 1, 2024, including (1) a model anti-hazing policy, and (2) “[r]esources on hazing prevention for professional development purposes and for increasing awareness among pupils, school staff, and community members of the dangers of hazing.” AB 299 would encourage private schools serving students in any grades Kindergarten through twelve to use these anti-hazing resources “for professional development purposes and for increasing awareness among pupils, school staff, and community members of the dangers of hazing.” AB 299 defines hazing as “a method of initiation or preinitiation into a student organization or student body that is likely to cause serious bodily injury to a former, current, or prospective pupil of a school.” AB 299 expressly excludes “customary athletic events or school-sanctioned events” from the definition of hazing.
Senate Bill 616 (SB 616) – Sick Days: Paid Days Accrual and Use
SB 616 would make several changes to employee paid sick leave entitlements under California law, including the following:
- Under existing law, employers must permit employees to accrue paid sick leave at a rate of either 1) one hour per every 30 hours of work or; 2) establish an alternate accrual method as long as employees have no less than 24 hours (or 3 days) of accrued paid sick leave by the 120th calendar day of employment or each calendar year, or in each 12-month period. SB 616 would modify the employer’s alternate sick leave accrual method option to require that an employee have no less than 56 hours (or 7 days) of accrued paid sick leave by the 280th calendar day of employment or each calendar year, or in each 12-month period.
- Under existing law, no accrual or carryover of paid sick leave to the following year of employment is required if employers give employees the “full amount of leave” of 24 hours (or 3 days) of accrued paid sick leave at the beginning of each year of employment, calendar year, or 12-month period. SB 616 would increase the “full amount of leave” to 56 hours (or 7 days) of paid sick leave in order for employers not to permit paid sick leave to carry over to the following year of employment.
- SB 616 would modify existing law by increasing the minimum paid sick leave cap from 48 hours (or 6 days) to 112 hours (or 14 days).
Assembly Bill 524 (AB 524) – Discrimination: Family Caregiver Status
AB 524 would amend the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), which is enforced by the Civil Rights Department, to prohibit employment discrimination based on “family caregiver status.” AB 524 defines “family caregiver status” as a person who contributes to the care of one or more family members, who are defined as a spouse, child, parent, sibling, grandparent, grandchild, domestic partner, or a previously identified “designated person,” as set forth under the California Family Rights Act (CFRA). AB 524 states it would not, however, create an obligation on employers to provide employees special accommodations because of family caregiver status.
Assembly Bill 575 (AB 575) – Paid Family Leave
Under existing law, California Paid Family Leave (PFL) provides up to eight (8) weeks of wage replacement benefits to workers who take time off work:
- To care for a seriously ill child, spouse, parent, domestic partner, grandparent, grandchild, sibling, or parent-in-law;
- To bond with a minor child within one (1) year of the birth or placement of the child in connection with foster care or adoption; or
- To participate in a qualifying exigency related to the covered active duty or call to covered active duty of the individual’s spouse, domestic partner, child, or parent in the Armed Forces of the United States.
AB 575 would expand PFL to provide benefits to workers who take time off work to bond with a minor child within one (1) year of assuming responsibilities of a child in loco parentis. Under AB 575, an “in loco parentis” relationship exists “when a person undertakes care and control of a child in the absence of such supervision by the natural parents and in the absence of formal legal approval,” such as the day-to-day responsibilities to care for and financially support a child.
AB 575 would delete the restriction that an employee is not eligible for PFL if another family member is ready, willing, able, and available to provide care for the same period of time, and would eliminate an employer’s ability to require employees to take up to two (2) weeks of earned but unused vacation leave before receiving PFL benefits.
AB 1076 and SB 699 both address noncompete clauses and contracts.
AB 1076 would codify existing case law, as set forth in Edwards v. Arthur Andersen LLP (2008) 44 Cal.4th 937), by providing that it is unlawful to include a noncompete clause in an employment contract, or to require an employee to enter into a noncompete contract. AB 1076 would require employers to notify, no later than February 14, 2024, any employee who signed an employment contract with a noncompete clause or entered into a noncompete contract after January 1, 2022, that such noncompete obligations are void. AB 1076 would require employers to provide this notice in writing delivered to the employee or former employee’s last known address and email address.
AB 1076 would also codify existing case law prohibiting noncompete clauses even in contracts where the person restrained from engaging in a lawful profession, trade, or business is not a party to the contract. AB 1076 would make a violation of these noncompete clause prohibitions an act of unfair competition pursuant to the Unfair Competition Law (UCL), which makes various practices unlawful and makes a person who engages in unfair competition liable for a civil penalty.
Similarly, SB 699 would prohibit an employer from entering into a noncompete contract or a contract with a noncompete clause with an employee or prospective employee. SB 699 would also establish that noncompete clauses and contracts are void regardless of where and when they were signed, and would prohibit current and former employers from attempting to enforce noncompete clauses and contracts regardless of whether the contract was signed and the employment was maintained outside of California.
SB 699 would make it a civil violation to enter into or attempt to enforce a noncompete contract or a contract with a noncompete clause, and entitle an employee, former employee, or prospective employee to bring a private action for injunctive relief and/or the recovery of actual damages for a violation of SB 699, and, if they prevail, entitles them to recovery of reasonable attorney’s fees and costs.
Senate Bill 731 (SB 731) – Employment Discrimination: Unlawful Practices: Work from Home: Disability
SB 731 would amend the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), to make it an unlawful employment practice for an employer, before requiring an employee who is working from home to return to work in person, to fail to provide at least 30 calendar days’ advance notice to the employee. The bill would also require that notice to those employees include certain information, including their employer’s obligation to engage in the interactive process and the employees’ rights to reasonable accommodation.
Senate Bill 848 (SB 848) – Employment: Leave for Reproductive Loss
SB 848 would entitle employees to take up to five (5) days of reproductive loss leave (which may be taken nonconsecutively) per reproductive loss event, up to a total amount of 20 days of reproductive loss leave within a 12-month period. A reproductive loss event means “the day or, for a multiple-day event, the final day of a failed adoption, failed surrogacy, miscarriage, stillbirth, or an unsuccessful assisted reproduction.” SB 848 would require the leave be taken within three (3) months of the reproductive loss event. Reproductive leave loss would be unpaid, but employees would be able to use their accrued leave balances, such as paid sick leave or vacation leave. The bill would require employers to maintain employee confidentiality relating to reproductive loss leave.
SB 848 would also make it an unlawful employment practice for an employer to refuse to grant a request by an eligible employee to take reproductive loss leave, and for an employer to retaliate against an eligible employee because the employee exercised the right to reproductive loss leave or gave information or testimony as to reproductive loss leave.
Business and Facilities
Assembly Bill 1423 (AB 1423) – Product Safety: PFAS: Artificial Turf or Synthetic Surfaces
AB 1423 would, effective January 1, 2024, require a manufacturer or installer of artificial turf, to notify the potential purchaser at the earliest possible date if the artificial turf contains regulated PFAS. The bill would also prohibit, effective January 1, 2024, a private school serving pupils in any grades Kindergarten through twelve, from purchasing or installing artificial turf containing regulated PFAS. AB 1423 would further prohibit the manufacture, distribution, or sale of artificial turf containing PFAS effective January 1, 2026.
Note: September 14, 2023 is the last day for the California Legislature to pass bills, and October 14, 2023, is the last day for the Governor to sign or veto the passed bills. Bills may also become law if the Governor fails to sign or veto them. These bills may require mid-year updates to school handbooks and mid-year notices to employees and families. For updates on which bills will become law, be sure to check out LCW’s Legislative Roundup, which will be distributed in October 2023, and attend LCW’s Private Education Legislative Roundup Webinar on November 16, 2023, which you may register for here.