Authored Articles & Publications Jan 30, 2017

Best in Law: California Employers Have New Rules to Follow — Effective Now

Companies Should Be Aware of Numerous Bills Signed Last Year

Best in Law: California Employers Have New Rules to Follow — Effective Now

By Cynthia Germano and Joseph Ortiz

Each New Year typically brings a slew of new laws that affect employers – and 2017 is no exception. Many of these new laws took effect on Jan. 1, so employers must now be in compliance. If not, you must take immediate steps to do so and you must retroactively apply all new laws, as appropriate.

Pay issues
Probably the most publicized new law that took effect is the increase to California’s minimum wage. On Jan. 1, it rose to $10.50 an hour and will steadily increase to $15 by 2022 for companies with 26 employees or more. Companies with 25 or fewer employees have an extra year to implement the scheduled raises. Included in the law are several “off-ramp” provisions that allow the governor to pause the scheduled increase for one year if either economy or budget conditions are met.
 
Another new law, AB488, provides special licenses to allow people with special needs to work below minimum wage in certain instances. This applies to nonprofits, sheltered workshops, day programs or rehabilitation facilities.
 
AB 2535 clarifies the existing law that only non-exempt and others paid hourly must have their hours worked itemized on their paycheck stubs. Any employer who contests a labor commissioner minimum wage violation finding, under AB 2899, must first post a bond in an amount equal to the total minimum wages, liquidated damages and overtime owed under the finding. If the employer fails to pay the total in 10 days of entry of judgment, dismissal or withdrawal of the finding, then the entire bond is forfeited to the aggrieved employee.
 
Under SB 1063, equal pay protection to race and ethnicity is extended to “substantially similar” work, as opposed to “equal” work.
 
Applicants
Starting now, while an employer can ask an applicant about salary history, the employer cannot use historic discriminatory pay to justify ongoing differences, under AB 1676.
 
Additionally, under AB 1843, employers cannot ask a job applicant about their juvenile criminal history.
 
Benefits
Employees are now entitled to use a payroll deduction to fund a retirement savings account run by the State, under SB 1234. No payments are required of employers at this time, however.
 
In 2018, when AB908 becomes law, wage replacement for paid family leave benefits through the Employment Development Department changes from 55 percent to 65 to 80 percent, depending upon the income bracket. It also extends benefits for four additional weeks. The cost comes from state disability funds, not the employer.
 
Workplace facilities
Effective March 1, all single-user toilet facilities must be designated as “all gender” under AB 1731.
 
Time off
As of July, AB 2337 will require employers with 25 or more employees to give notice to all employees about their right to take time off to deal with issues of domestic violence or assault.
 
Immigration status
Under new law SB 1001, employers are prohibited from requiring more immigration status information than required by federal law for purposes of employment authorization. It also prohibits re-verifying immigration status for current employees, except where required by law.
 
Originally published in the Jan. 29, 2017 edition of the Press-Enterprise. Republished with permission.

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