California has signed into effect even more laws for 2018 you may not be aware of.
If you’re surprised, well, you’re not alone. I was talking to my friend/attorney/client the other day and he asked if I was aware of all the new laws in California going into effect in 2018. Of course my response was, “There are new laws? How come I haven’t heard anything about them?”
The fact is, most legislation happens without your knowledge (or permission, for that matter), yet in many cases, these laws impact your business and your life. Leave it to California to come up with more laws for businesses (read: hoops to jump through).
I asked my friend to send me a list of new laws he felt were most pertinent, so I could share them with you. I was surprised to find that most of these affect me and my business, and I had no idea they even existed.
Special thanks to Jonathan Gerber, partner at Miller, Miller & Gerber. He’s a whiz-kid attorney who helps both me and my clients with anything related to legal matters in the business world.
- Stop asking about salary history – AB 168 bars employers from asking job applicants about their previous salary. The legislation’s goal is to narrow the gender gap by preventing employers from basing offers on prior salary and thus, presumably, perpetuating historical discrimination. This will also remove the perceived gap in negotiating power between employers and employees who must disclose their prior salary. Employers should ensure that their job applications don’t request prohibited information and that those interviewing applicants know not to ask this question
- Get ready to offer parenting leave – SB 63, officially titled the Parental Leave Act, requires employers with between 20 and 49 employees to offer parenting leave that mirrors the Family Medical Leave Act. The new Act allows employees who work for a covered employer to take 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave if they have worked a minimum of 1,250 hours in the 12-months prior to taking leave. Employees can take leave only for the purpose of bonding with a newborn child, adopted child or foster child within a year of the birth or placement. Covered employers will also need to maintain health coverage under the same terms as an active employee. The Act also prohibits discrimination and retaliation against an employee for taking parental leave. The Parental Leave Act does not require employers to pay any portion of the leave but requires that employees be able to use accrued sick and vacation time. Employees can apply to have a portion of the parental leave paid for through the state’s Paid Family Leave program.
- You better provide (expanded) harassment training – California requires at least biannual harassment training for supervisors in companies with 50 or more employees. As of January 1, 2018, SB 396 requires that the training include information on gender identity, gender expression and sexual orientation. If your handbook doesn’t specifically prohibit discrimination and harassment on those bases, you’re overdue for a revision.
- Ban the box – Following the leads of San Francisco and Los Angeles, AB 1008 prohibits employers with five or more employees from:
- Asking about criminal convictions on employment applications;
- Asking applicants about criminal convictions before making a conditional offer of employment.
- When conducting background checks on applicants, considering, distributing, or disseminating information about prior arrests not leading to conviction, participation in diversion programs, or convictions that have been sealed, dismissed, expunged or otherwise nullified.
Employers who wish to rely on criminal conviction information to withdraw a conditional job offer must notify the applicant of their preliminary decision, give them a copy of the report (if any), explain the applicant’s right to respond, give them at least five business days to do so, and then wait five more business days to decide when an applicant contests the decision. There are exceptions for employers who operate health facilities hiring employees who will have regular access to patients or drugs.
- Pay more (this one shouldn’t shock you) – For those who live “over a rock,” on January 1, 2018, the California state minimum wage went up to $11.00 per hour for businesses with 26 or more employees and $10.50 per hour for smaller companies.
- Get to know worksite immigration enforcement and protection. The Immigrant Worker Protection Act (AB 450) provides workers with protection from immigration enforcement while on the job and imposes varying fines from $2,000 to $10,000 for violating its provisions. AB 450’s provisions include the following:
- Employers cannot give federal immigration enforcement agents access to non-public areas of a business without a judicial warrant.
- Employers cannot provide these enforcement agents access to employee records without a subpoena or judicial warrant. This prohibition does not apply to Form I-9 or other documents for which a Notice of Inspection was provided to the employer.
- Employers must follow specific requirements related to Form I-9 Those requirements are to:
» Post a notice to all current employees informing them of any federal immigration agency’s inspections of Forms I-9 or other employment records within 72 hours of receiving the Notice of Inspection. This notice must also be given to the collective bargaining representative, if any.
» Provide a copy of the Notice of Inspection to an affected employee upon reasonable request.
» Once the inspection is over, provide each “affected employee” and the employee’s collective bargaining representative a copy of the inspection results and a written notice of the employer’s and employee’s obligations arising from the inspection. This must be done within 72 hours of receiving the results. An “affected employee” is one identified by the inspection results as potentially lacking work authorization or having document deficiencies. This bill also makes it unlawful for employers to re-verify the employment eligibility of current employees in a time or manner not allowed by federal employment eligibility verification laws.
- Adopt gender neutral language – AB 1556 revises California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act by deleting gender-specific personal pronouns in California’s anti-discrimination, anti-harassment, pregnancy disability and family/ medical leave laws by changing “he” or “she,” for example, to “the person” or “the employee.”
- Take a closer look at what you pay – AB 46 extends California’s Fair Pay Act — which prohibits wage discrimination on the basis of gender, race and ethnicity — to cover public employers; existing law only covers private employers.
- Comply with even more labor laws… SB 306 allows the Labor Commissioner to investigate an employer — even without a complaint from an employee — when the Labor Commissioner suspects retaliation or discrimination against a worker during a wage claim or other investigation. The Labor Commissioner also can obtain a court order prohibiting an employer from firing or disciplining an employee, even before completing its investigation or determining retaliation has occurred. SB 306 also creates a new citation process for alleged violations and penalties.
Key Takeaway: With these laws in effect, the burden of employing people in California just continues to increase. As a result, it becomes increasingly important for employers to be proactive in determining before they get sued where they’re vulnerable. In terms of time, expense, stress, disruption and damage to a company’s reputation, an audit of HR practices is way cheaper than a lawsuit.
I have many quality resources who can help ensure you’re compliant. Hit me up at firstname.lastname@example.org