2018 California Employment Law Updates

Now that were in 2018, there were plenty of important updates in California Employment Law.  Some of the key areas that Rock Fusco & Connelly would like to highlight are a ban on applicant’s compensation history, new training requirements for prevention of sexual harassment, protections for immigrant workers, and an update with regard to minimum wage.

Newly created California Labor Code §432.3 institutes a ban on seeking job applicant’s compensation history.  This law applies to all employers.  Under the statute, the definition of compensation includes both salary and benefits.  That said, if an applicant voluntarily discloses his or her compensation history, the employer may consider that information when calculating its own compensation offer.  Best practice for California employers is to remove all questions pertaining to prior compensation from their job applications or interview guidelines.  Furthermore, all hiring managers, recruiters, and human resource staff should be trained on the new requirement.

The California legislature also instituted new supervisor training requirements for all employers with 50 or more employees.  Those employers must now incorporate harassment information based upon gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation into their sexual harassment training (reminder that a two-hour sexual harassment prevention training is already required for all supervisory employees).  Small employers are not completely exempt from this new provision.  Employers with 5 or more employees must post a specific poster issued by the DFEH incorporating information on the new regulations on gender identity and expression.

The new year also saw California institute new “baby bonding” protections.  Previously, only employers with 50 or more employees had an obligation to provide baby bonding leave pursuant to the California Family Rights Act.  Now, the law extends the baby bonding leave to smaller employers.  Accordingly, employers who employ 20 to 49 employees, must extend 12 weeks of unpaid parental leave to eligible employees who have worked at least 1,250 hours of service with an employer during the previous 12-month period.  The leave may be requested within one year of the child’s birth, adoption, or foster care placement.  The law includes a strong anti-retaliation provision, and the employee may use accrued vacation, during this period. Further, the employer is required to maintain the employee’s health insurance under the group health plan at the same level that it would have provided the employee had he or she not taken the leave.  If the employee fails to return to work, the employer may recover the costs of maintaining the health plan if the failure to return is due to a reason other than a serious health condition or other circumstances beyond the employee’s control.

Also, California passed the Immigrant Worker Protection Act.  There are two key prohibitions under the Act.  First, employers cannot allow immigration agents to access non-public areas of a workplace without a warrant.  Second, employers cannot allow immigration agents to access, review, or obtain employee records without a subpoena or court order.  However, the Act also requires employers to post any notice of a federal immigration agency’s intent to inspect employee I-9 forms or other employment records.  The notice must be posted within 72 hours of receipt.  This is an exception to the second prohibition with regard to accessing employee records.  Furthermore, employers must provide any affected employees with a copy of the actual notice upon their reasonable request.

Lastly, on January 1st of this year, California’s minimum wage increased.  For employers with 25 or fewer employees the new minimum wage is $10.50 per hour and for employers with 26 or more employees, the new minimum wage is $11.00 per hour.  The increase in minimum wage resulted in an increase in minimum salary as well.  The minimum salary an employee must earn to qualify for exempt status in California increased to $43,680 per year for employers with 25 or fewer employees and $45,760 for employers with 26 or more employees.

California has thus added a barrage of restrictions and rules so employers must be cautious to avoid investigation or an enforcement action.  To maintain compliance and assist you in navigating these new requirements, please reach out to us.

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