New Legislation for 2020 | California Optometric Association

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New Legislation for 2020

Below are measures affecting optometry, which were approved by Governor Gavin Newsom. Unless stated otherwise, all new laws listed below take effect January 1, 2020. As employment, practice and other laws can be a complicated web for doctors of optometry to stay in compliance; COA provides its members with a free half hour of legal assistance. Go here for more information on our Legal Resources Program.


Independent Contractors (AB 5):  Codifies the California Supreme Court ruling determining classification of independent contractors using what is known as the “ABC Test”: A) That the worker is free from control and direction of the hiring entity in connection with the performance of the work, both under the contractor for the performance of the work and in fact. B) That the worker performs work that is outside the usual course of the hiring entity’s business. C) That the work is customarily engaged in an independently established trade, occupation or business of the same nature as the work performed. Additionally, beginning on July 1, 2020, any individual who is deemed an employee must be covered by workers' compensation insurance, but that this requirement is not retroactive to an earlier date.

COA recommends that its members who have independent contractor agreements for the rendering of services at their practice review them with a professional knowledgeable in this area like your attorney or CPA. Additionally, COA members may consult with COA’s legal counsel, Wilkie Fleury, on this matter or others for up to 30 minutes a month at no charge. Simply call 916-441-2430, provide your COA member number and ask for Steve Marmaduke, Bill Gould or Dan Baxter.

Employment Discrimination (AB 51): Prohibits a person from requiring any applicant for employment or any employee to waive any right for a violation of any provision of the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) or other specific statutes governing employment as a condition of employment, continued employment, or the receipt of any employment-related benefit. The bill also prohibits an employer from threatening, retaliating or discriminating against, or terminating any applicant for employment or any employee because of the refusal to consent to the waiver of any right for a violation of specific statutes governing employment.

Home Residence Permit (AB 458): TPA certified optometrists may practice optometry in the home of an individual who is unable to obtain optometric services outside of their home due to a disabling physical or mental condition if the optometrist obtains a home residence permit from the State Board of Optometry and abides by the requirements set forth in this bill. The new certificate will not be available until after the board enacts regulations. For details on the new provisions please see our fact sheet.

Telehealth (AB 744): Reimbursement shall be provided for telehealth services at the same rate and to the same extent as in-person for all health plan contracts (including Medi-Cal managed care plans) issued, amended, or renewed after January 1, 2021. COA made sure the bill would not mandate coverage for online vision testing. This bill also includes other telehealth provisions.

Lactation Accommodation (SB 142): Expands current lactation accommodations and protections for working mothers by (1) clarifying employer obligations to provide breaks to nursing/pumping mothers; (2) requiring employers provide safe and sanitary lactation rooms for employees wishing to express milk; (3) increasing penalties for non-compliance; (4) prohibiting discrimination and retaliation against employees who exercise or attempt to exercise their right to lactation accommodations; and (5) requiring that employers implement lactation accommodation policies.

Discrimination: Hairstyles (SB 188): Prohibits discrimination based on hair traits and styles historically associated with race, including, but not limited to, hair texture and protective hairstyles such as, braids, twists, or locks.

Credit or Loans (SB 639): Prohibits all healthcare professionals and their staff from arranging or establishing open-end credit or loans containing a deferred interest (interest charged on portions of the original balance that has already been paid off) provision, among other credit or loan requirements. For specific details on how to fully comply with the new law, please see our fact sheet.

Sexual Harassment Training (SB 778): Delays the requirement to provide at least 2 hours of classroom or other effective interactive training and education regarding sexual harassment to all supervisory employees and at least 1 hour of classroom or other effective interactive training and education regarding sexual harassment to all nonsupervisory employees in California within 6 months of their assumption of a position from January 1, 2020 to January 1, 2021, and thereafter once every 2 years. The bill would also specify that an employer who has provided this training and education in 2019 is not required to provide it again until 2 years thereafter.


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