2022 is looking to be an unprecedented year for California companies’ privacy law obligations. The California Privacy Rights Act (CPRA) takes effect on January 1, 2023, with a twelve-month look-back that also applies to the personal data of employees and business contacts. The new California Privacy Protection Agency is preparing regulations that will sit on top of existing rules from the California Attorney General. Meanwhile, the California Legislature is enacting privacy laws even though it has not repealed or streamlined any of the myriad California privacy laws that continue to apply in addition to the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA).
On March 1, we held a webinar focused on the employment law implications stemming from these significant changes and covering a handful of critical hot topics (e.g., how to process vaccination information, the treatment of employees of PEOs, and EORs). If you missed it, here are the major highlights you should know!
Preparing for CCPA / CPRA Compliance
- CPRA amendments to CCPA take effect January 1, 2023; this ends the transitional exemptions for “HR” and “B2B contact information” and includes a 12-month look-back to January 1, 2022.
- “At collection notices” have been required since January 1, 2020, with increased disclosure requirements since December 16, 2020. For more detail, click here.
- Businesses must declare on January 1, 2023, in privacy policies whether they have been selling or sharing personal information of employees and B2B contacts in the preceding 12 months and, if yes, offer opt-out mechanisms and alternatives without discrimination.
- Businesses must update service provider agreements, including with recruiters and IT, cloud, payroll, benefits, and other providers.
- Businesses must offer broad access, deletion, rectification, portability and other rights to California employees and B2B contacts, and prepare for what may be the end of confidentiality in the employment area; employers should conduct training, and implement robust data governance policies (incl. deletion and discovery).
Data Access / Deletion Requests from Employees
- Under existing employment law, California employees (not contractors) have the right to inspect and receive a copy of the personnel files and records that relate to their performance or any grievance concerning them within 30 days of their written request. The existing right to inspect does not extend to records relating to the investigation of a possible crime, letters of reference, or various ratings or reports.
- By contrast, the new “right to know” under the CPRA/CCPA goes further. It encompasses two distinct rights: (i) the right to a disclosure explaining how the employer collects and handles the individual’s personal information; and (ii) the right to copies of “specific pieces of personal information.” The “right to know” applies to California consumers, which goes beyond employees (i.e., including contractors). In theory, it could extend the scope of the “right to know” from simply the personnel file to include, for example, informal communications about the employee, investigations, etc. Employers must generally comply with such requests within 45 days.
- The “right to know,” however, is not absolute, and employers can refuse if the request is manifestly unfounded or excessive (e.g., if the purpose is to harass) and does not cover privileged information (e.g., communications with in-house and external counsel).
- The CPRA/CCPA also introduce a new right to “data deletion.” This right is not absolute either. An exception should apply for most categories of personal information reasonably necessary to managing or administering current or past employment or contract work relationship.
- Finally, the CPRA/CCPA gives California residents other rights including the right to limit the processing of sensitive information. There are exceptions to the right to limit the processing of sensitive information, but none of the statutory exceptions apply squarely to HR data.