Recent Changes to Employment Law in California

What new laws relative to employment in California should I be aware of?

It is important for both employers and employees to be familiar with changes to employment law. Employers have to keep abreast of changes in order to keep their employee handbooks up-to-date and to make certain that all of their policies are in compliance with any new legislation. Employees have to be aware of any changes to employment law so that their understanding of their rights and restrictions in the workplace remain current.

A number of new laws voted on by the state legislature in 2017 were enacted as of January 1, 2018, so this is a good moment for all California employers and employees to review employment legislation with a capable employment attorney. In any event, such laws should be reviewed annually. The new laws require employers to revise applications and policies, put up new posters, and provide new training for managers and supervisors. The following alterations to California state law are now in effect:

Attendance Policies

The California Labor Commissioner has stated that employers cannot discipline employees for taking accrued paid sick leave.

Hiring Practices

There are two major changes to hiring practices in California:

1- There is now a ban on asking potential hires for their payment history; the ban includes eliciting information about wage incentives and benefits packages. Instead, employers have to provide the pay scale for the position when asked by job applicants.

2- Under the new “ban-the-box” law, the result of an international movement by civil rights groups, employers are no longer permitted to have a box on their hiring applications in which applicants are required to note whether they have a criminal record.

Wage and Hour Policies

California employment laws are more generous to employees than the laws of many other states. In addition to having one of the highest minimum wage standards in the country ($11 an hour), the state also provides for employees to have a 30-minute meal break if they work more than 5 hours daily, as well as a 10-minute break after every 4 hours of work time. The Labor Commissioner is now requiring stricter compliance with these policies by auditing employers’ time and payroll records periodically and actively enforcing any labor law violations. Circumstances under which the need to provide such breaks can be waived are now restricted. Employers should consult with strong California employment attorneys to ensure that they are fully compliant with these wage and hour policies lest they put themselves in legal jeopardy.

Sexual Harassment Training

As we are all well aware, sexual harassment is quickly becoming less and less tolerable in the workplace. Now, businesses with 50 or more employees must provide training for their supervisors specifically regarding harassment prevention due to gender identity, gender expression or sexual orientation. The new law also requires that all employers display a poster developed by the state Department of Fair Housing and Employment entitled “Transgender Rights in the Workplace.”

Parental Leave Entitlement

Employees of larger businesses were already included in laws that guaranteed them bonding time with their newborns, newly adopted or fostered children by federal law. As of 2018, however, all California businesses with 20 to 49 employees must also provide baby-bonding leave. Though the leave can be unpaid, employers must continue to provide healthcare coverage.

Posted in: Employment Law