If your business operates in the Golden State, you know that California labor laws are among the most complex and rigorous in the U.S. Unfortunately, that isn’t changing anytime soon. In fact, things are about to get even more challenging for employers, as a host of new California workplace laws take effect starting in 2019.
One reason: during outgoing Governor Jerry’s Brown’s final bill-signing session this fall, state legislators presented him with more than 1200 combined assembly bills (ABs) and senate bills (SBs). More than 1,000 were signed into law.
A number of these enact new California workplace laws or fine tune existing ones. From addressing sexual harassment in the workplace…to requiring new hiring and training practices…to specifying payroll record keeping requirements, here’s a quick preview of the new California labor laws that will key HR professionals on their toes in 2019 and beyond.
Mandatory Sexual Harassment Training (SB 1343)
SB 1343 is one of several new California laws addressing sexual harassment in the workplace. Current California workplace law requires employers with 50 or more employees to provide sexual harassment training to supervisors. Effective January 1, 2019, that requirement will be greatly expanded. Employers with five or more employees will be required to provide sexual harassment training to all employees, supervisory and otherwise. The deadline for completing the initial training is January 1, 2020, and training must be provided every two years thereafter.
Other new California laws concerning sexual harassment in the workplace limit confidentiality provisions in settlement agreements and increase employer liability when it comes to the conduct of outside contractors.
Female Corporate Board Members Mandate (SB 826)
One of the more controversial new California workplace laws, SB 826, mandates that all publicly-traded corporations based in California place at least one female member on their board of directors before the end of 2019. (“Female” is defined as individuals who self-identify as women.) The law recognizes that corporations may need to increase their number of directors in order to comply with this mandate.
Furthermore, the law imposes minimum seat requirements proportional to the total number of seats by the end of 2021. In other words, boards with five director positions will need two female directors and those with six will need three. Companies are required to file this information with the Secretary of State, and fines for non-compliance start at $100,000.
Employees Right to Receive Pay Statements (SB 1252)
Existing California labor law specifies that employees have the right to view and copy their pay statements. This new law specifies that when an employee requests a copy of their records, the employer must provide the copies directly to the employee. Employers must comply within 21 days of an employee’s request.
Clarification of Salary History Inquiries (AB 2282)
Last year, a then-new California labor law, AB 168, made it illegal for employers to ask job applicants about their salary history. While that prohibition remains, AB 2282 clarifies that employers may ask applicants about their salary expectations.
In addition, it clarifies that employers must provide “external applicants” (i.e., new job candidates not already employed by the company) with a “pay scale” (i.e., wage range) to applicants following an initial interview.
Tightened Lactation Accommodations Requirement (AB 1976)
AB 1976, which becomes effective January 1, 2019, strengthens current workplace requirements regarding the nature of required lactation spaces. Under current state law, California employers must make a reasonable effort to provide a private location—other than a toilet stall—for nursing mothers to pump breast milk. The new law replaces the term “toilet stall” with “bathroom,” which means employers can no longer use a bathroom as a designated lactation space.
Industry-specific Human Trafficking Awareness Training (SB 970)
Specifically targeted to the hotel and motel industry, SB 970 requires these employers to provide at least 20 minutes of human trafficking awareness training to employees who are most likely to come into contact with human trafficking victims. Training is required to be completed by January 1, 2020 and conducted once every two years thereafter.
Expansion of Paid Family Leave (SB 1123)
California employees already receive up to six weeks of partial wages when they take a leave of absence to care for a seriously ill family member or bond with a new child. Under SB 1123, the benefit will be expanded to provide paid family leave benefits to employees who take time off to attend to a “qualifying exigency” because a family member is called to active duty. Covered family members include an employee’s spouse, domestic partner, parent, or child. This goes into effect January 1, 2021.
Complying with California Labor Laws (and Everyone Else’s)
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