The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) recently posted an announcement on its pay data reporting landing page stating the deadline for filing 2021 pay data reports is April 1, 2022. This is different from last year’s deadline of March 31, 2021, and earlier statements by the DFEH indicating that the filing deadline would be March 31 going forward after last year’s inaugural filing cycle. The announcement also provides notice that new versions of the filing portal, user guide, and template (a spreadsheet document including a blank pay data upload report, instructions, and two sample reports), and other resources will be available on February 1, 2022. In connection with these updates, the filing portal will be unavailable on January 31, 2022.
Look Before Leaping
Currently, the DFEH’s pay data reporting landing page provides access to an updated user guide for the 2020 reporting year, a template for the pay data reports which appears to have been at least partially updated, and a sample pay data report in Comma-Separated Value (.CSV) file format. That same webpage also interestingly provides a link to the filing portal. This is interesting because a new version of the filing portal is due to be updated on February 1, 2022, along with the user guide and template. Based on the announced changes, it may make sense for filers to wait until February 1, 2022, to see the updated user guide, template, and other resources, and as well as the filing portal before finalizing their 2021 pay data reports. By waiting until February 1, 2022, filers would be able to review all updates to make sure that their understanding of the filing requirements is accurate before completing their filings.
Potential New Login Process
While the current posted user guide is for the 2020 reporting year and will be replaced soon, this version provides some information on apparent changes to the filing process for 2021 pay data. Specifically, this updated version of the 2020 user guide outlines a new login process for pay data filers, requiring users to establish a username and password when accessing the portal for the first time this year. This was not required for the 2020 filings and is a natural progression of the pay data filing system. Once a filer establishes a username and password, the filer must then associate the account with an employer by providing information such as the employer’s federal employer identification number (FEIN) and California state employer identification number (CA SEIN). Once this information has been provided, the filer may search for the employer using either the submission ID from the 2020 pay data report filing or by providing specific 2020 filed report details. The submission ID was assigned for each report filing session and is printed on the confirmation screen printout at the conclusion of the 2020 filings. This method requires that the filer have access to the 2020 filing confirmation screen print out.
To follow the alternative method for associating with an employer already in the portal system, the filer must provide several specific pieces of information from the 2020 filed reports including the total number of United States employees, the total number of California employees, and the total number of California establishments. This process means that the filer must have access to the 2020 filed reports in order to be able to connect to an employer. While this process could change with the updated February 1, 2022, user guide, these instructions suggest that pay data filers will have to work through this additional process in order to be in position to file 2021 pay data reports. While those employers who are able to access their 2020 filed reports should be able to navigate the currently proposed process, employee departures or lost records could prove challenging for some employers. The current user guide encourages employers that run into such issues to reach out to the DEFH for assistance. While filers will need to wait until February 1, 2022, to know for sure that the above process applies, at this point they may want to confirm that they can access copies of their 2020 filed reports.
The next major development with the California pay data reports will be the February 1, 2022, release of several updated reference materials as well as an updated version of the filing portal. After these releases have been made available, California employers required to submit pay data will likely have a clearer road map to complete their 2021 pay data filings.
Ogletree Deakins will continue to monitor and report developments with respect to these compliance requirements and will post updates on the firm’s California and Pay Equity blogs. Important information for employers is also available via the firm’s webinar and podcast programs.