Overview of 2017 California Employment Law Updates

Posted by bop-admin on Dec 16, 2016 10:19:10 PM

Prepare your organization's policies and processes for
2017 California employment law updates 

The California legislature once again had a busy session. Of the 898 bills Gov. Brown signed into law, there are quite a few that significantly impact most California employers.

What can can employers do to get ready?

- Review pay practices to identify potential disparities based on race and ethnicity, as well as gender.

- Ensure that applications do not elicit information on prior salary or juvenile convictions.

- Obtain and install appropriate signage for single-user restrooms.

- Make sure that human resources staff, hiring managers, and supervisors understand the changes affecting them.

- Wonder what surprises the legislature has for us in the year ahead!

2017 California Employment Law Changes

Bill Name (Code) Summary
Minimum Wage (SB 3) Minimum wage increase- Eventually will increase to $15.00 per hour.  Jan 1, 2017 for Employers with 26 or more employees. Increase is delayed for one year for employers with 25 or less.
Equal Pay and Salary history (AB 1676) Specifies that prior salary cannot, by itself, justify any disparity in compensation between men and women.  SB 1063 prohibits an employer from paying any of its employees at wage rates less than the rates paid to employees of another race or ethnicity for substantially similar work.
Notice of domestic violence leave and accommodation rights (AB 2337) Requires employers to inform each employee of his or her employment leave rights as a possible victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking, by providing that information in writing to new employees upon hire, and to other employees upon request.  Commissioner will develop notice by July 2017.
Choice of law and forum in employment contracts (SB 1241) Prohibits an employer from requiring a California employee to adjudicate outside of California a claim arising in California. The new statute makes any provision of a contract that violates these prohibitions voidable, upon request of the employee, and requires a dispute over a voided provision to be adjudicated in California under California law. The statute specifies that injunctive relief is available and authorizes a court to award reasonable attorneys’ fees. Adjudication includes litigation and arbitration for purposes of the statute, but a contract with an employee who was represented by legal counsel is exempted from the statute.
Juvenile criminal history (AB 1843) AB 1843 prohibits employers from asking an applicant for employment to disclose information concerning or related to an arrest, detention, processing, diversion, supervision, adjudication, or court disposition that occurred while the person was subject to the process and jurisdiction of juvenile court law.
Required Employee Retirement Saving through Employers (SB 1234) Provides legislative approval for the California Secure Choice Retirement Savings Program.  and sets forth recommendations and requirements for the design and implementation of that program. In its current form, Secure Choice would apply to private-sector employers, with five or more employees, that do not offer an employer-sponsored retirement plan. Employers that fit this definition will be required to either offer an employer-sponsored retirement plan or to automatically enroll their employees in Secure Choice by creating a payroll contribution to the employee’s personal Secure Choice Retirement account.  Employers would have minimal administrative responsibilities. They would only be required to: (1) enable employees to make an automatic contribution from their paycheck into their Secure Choice Account; (2) transmit the payroll contribution to a third-party administrator to be determined by the Board; and (3) potentially provide state-developed informational materials about the program to their employees.  Amends, repeals, and adds 20 sections of the Government, and Welfare and Institutions, Codes.   http://www.treasurer.ca.gov/SCIB/ 
Single-user restrooms must be “all gender” (AB 1732) Commencing March 1, 2017, all single-user toilet facilities in any business establishment, place of public accommodation, or government agency to be identified as all-gender toilet facilities. The new statute authorizes inspectors, building officials, or other local officials responsible for code enforcement to inspect for compliance with these provisions during any inspection. (California law already prohibits discrimination against transgender people, including restrictions on the use of public restrooms.)
Commuter Benefits (SB 1128) Removes the January 1, 2017, sunset provision from a program requiring certain employers in the San Francisco Bay Area to offer alternative-commute benefits to their employees.
DFEH Investigations (SB1442) Requires, among other actions, the DFEH (instead of the Secretary of the Health and Human Services Agency) to investigate and enforce the laws prohibiting discrimination in the conduct, operation, or administration of state or state-funded programs or activities on the basis of race, national origin, ethnic group identification, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, color, genetic information, or disability, and to issue rules and regulations.
Disability Terminology (AB 1709) Modernizes various codes referencing “deaf or hearing impaired” individuals by replacing existing references to “hearing impaired” with “hard-of-hearing.”
Cell Phones while Driving (AB 1785) Reaffirms the state's prohibition on using a handheld wireless telephone or wireless electronic communication device while driving, but authorizes a driver to operate such devices under certain circumstances. Specifically, drivers are permitted to use their finger to activate or deactivate a feature or function of the device with a single swipe or tap, so long as the device is mounted in a location that does not obstruct the driver's field of vision.
Earned Income Tax Credit Notification  (AB 1847) AB 1847 requires some employers that must notify employees who may be eligible for the federal earned-income tax credit to also notify these employees they may be eligible for the California Earned Income Tax Credit under the same conditions.
Smoking in the Workplace (SBX2-5) Among other provisions, extends workplace smoking prohibitions of “tobacco products” to include electronic cigarettes.  Repealed, amended, and added 25 sections in eight codes.
Unemployment Insurance Appeals (AB 2886) Extends the California Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board appeals window for State Disability Insurance and Paid Family Leave benefits from 20 to 30 days.
Unemployment Insurance Appeals (AB 2886) Makes it unlawful for an employer to request more or different documents than are required under federal law, to refuse to honor documents tendered that on their face reasonably appear to be genuine, to refuse to honor documents or work authorization based upon the specific status or term of status that accompanies the authorization to work, or to reinvestigate or re-verify an incumbent employee’s authorization to work. The new statute authorizes an applicant for employment or an employee subject to an unlawful act prohibited by these provisions, or a representative of that applicant or employee, to file a complaint with the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement. The new statute specifies that any person who violates these provisions will be subject to a penalty not to exceed $10,000, and equitable relief.
Background checks by “transportation network companies” (AB 1289) Effective January 1, 2017, drivers participating with a Transportation Network Company (TNC) in California will be subject to mandatory criminal background checks, regardless of whether a driver is considered an employee or an independent contractor.
Increased paid family leave and state disability benefits (AB 908) Increasing wage replacement benefits for employees who take leave under California’s existing paid family leave law.
Work experience education programs (AB 2063) Authorizes work experience education credit to be granted to a pupil who is at least 14 years of age if the principal of the school in which the pupil is enrolled certifies that it is necessary for the pupil’s participation in a career technical education program and would also authorize a pupil to participate in a job shadowing experience for up to 40 hours in a specified period if the principal of the school in which the pupil is enrolled certifies that it is necessary for the pupil’s participation in a career technical education program.
DLSE enforcement authority (AB 2261) Provide the Department of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) with new independent authority to, with or without an employee complaint, bring an action against an employer who it suspects may have terminated or otherwise discriminated against an employee in violation of any law under the jurisdiction of the Labor Commissioner.
Wage statements for exempt employees (AB 2535) Amends section 226 to limit the categories of employees for whom employers must provide the total number of hours worked. The category eliminates the need to provide hours work for employees exempt from both overtime and minimum wage.
Minimum wage violations (AB 2899) Requires a person seeking a writ of mandate contesting the Labor Commissioner’s ruling on an employer’s non-payment of a minimum wage to post a bond with the Labor Commissioner, in an amount equal to the unpaid wages assessed under the citation, excluding penalties. The amended statute requires that the bond be issued for the unpaid employees, and ensures that the person seeking the writ makes prescribed payments under the proceedings. The proceeds of the bond, sufficient to cover the amount owed, would be forfeited to the employee if the employer fails to pay the amounts owed within 10 days from the conclusion of the proceedings.
Pay equity based on race and ethnicity (SB 1063) Previously, the exception to that requirement applied only to employees who were exempt from overtime and paid only by salary. Under AB 2535, the exception has been expanded to cover employees who are exempt from minimum wage requirements and overtime under either statutes or the orders of the Industrial Welfare Commission.
Unemployment Insurance Appeals (AB 2886) Extends the California Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board appeals window for State Disability Insurance and Paid Family Leave benefits from 20 to 30 days.

2017 Specific Industry Law Changes

Bill Name (Code) Summary
Overtime for agricultural workers (AB 1066) The “Phase-In Overtime for Agricultural Workers Act of 2016” removes the exemption for agricultural employees regarding hours, meal breaks, and other working conditions, including specified wage requirements, and creates a schedule that phases in overtime requirements for agricultural workers during 2019 to 2022.4 Employers that employ 25 or fewer employees will have an additional three years to comply with the phasing in of these overtime requirements. Beginning January 1, 2022, the statute requires any work over 12 hours in one day performed by a person employed in an agricultural occupation be compensated at the rate of no less than twice the employee’s regular rate of pay. The statute authorizes the Governor to delay the implementation of these overtime-pay provisions if the Governor also suspends the implementation of a scheduled state minimum wage increase. The statute also requires the Department of Industrial Relations to update Wage Order 14 for consistency with these provisions.
Agriculture Industry (SB 702) Extends, until January 1, 2022, a Lake County-specific exemption of child labor law that allows minors to work during the peak agricultural season when school is not in session.
Apprenticeships (AB 2288) Requires that the California Workforce Development Board and each local board ensure, to the maximum extent feasible, that federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act of 2014 funds awarded for pre-apprenticeship training in the building and construction trades fund programs and services that: (1) follow the Multi-Craft Core Curriculum implemented by the State Department of Education; and (2) develop a plan for outreach and retention for women participants to help increase the representation of women in the building and construction trades.
Construction Industry (AB 1926) Mandates, when a contractor requests the dispatch of an apprentice to perform work on a public works project and requires compliance with certain pre-employment activities as a condition of employment, that the apprentice be paid the prevailing rate for the time spent on any required pre-employment activity, including travel time to and from the activity, if any, except as specified.
Arbitration (SB 1007) Allows a party to an arbitration proceeding the right to have a court reporter during the arbitration proceeding.
Care Facilities (AB 2231) Increases the civil penalties for specified violations and adopts penalties for repeat violations in licensed community care facilities, including, but not limited to, residential care facilities for persons with chronic life-threatening illnesses, residential care facilities for the elderly, day-care centers, and family day-care homes.
Child Care Service Providers (AB 2036) Requires an online child-care job posting service to post specified statements related to background checks and a parent’s right to complaint information on its website. The new law also authorizes a civil penalty for violations of these requirements.
Employment Discrimination in Rehab Facility (AB 488) Authorizes individuals employed under a special license in a nonprofit sheltered workshop or rehabilitation facility to sue under the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) for prohibited harassment or discrimination.
Removal of age from actors’ online profiles (AB 1687) Prohibits a commercial online entertainment employment service provider that enters into an agreement to provide certain employment services from publishing information about the subscriber's age in an online profile of the subscriber. This bill, sponsored by the Screen Actors Guild, also requires a service provider to remove within five days the subscriber’s date of birth and age information in an online profile from public view on any companion Internet websites under its control upon request by the subscriber.
Government contractors and prevailing wages (AB 326) Requires that funds held as collateral by the Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) pending a prevailing wage proceeding be released back to the contractors who deposited them within 30 days of the conclusion of the proceeding.
Government contractors Claims Resolution Procedure (AB 326) Establishes until January 1, 2020, a claims resolution procedure by which a general contractor can seek public-agency review of a claim in connection with a public works project. The procedure applies to public-works contracts entered into on or after January 1, 2017.
Government Contractors Construction Manager / General-Contractor method (AB 2126) Authorizes the Department of Transportation to use the construction-manager/general-contractor method on 12 projects, and would require eight out of the 12 projects to use department employees or consultants under contract with the Department to perform all project design and engineering services.
Government Contractors "Skilled and Trained Workforce"  (SB 693) Consolidates the "skilled and trained workforce" requirements of various provisions of existing law related to alternative construction delivery methods, defines the terms of these requirements, and makes other conforming changes.
OSHA "High-Heat" Provisions (SB 1167) Requires the Division of Occupational Safety and Health, by January 1, 2019, to propose to the Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board for the board’s review and adoption, a heat-illness and injury-prevention standard applicable to workers working in indoor places of employment. The new statute specifies this requirement does not prohibit the division from proposing, or the standards board from adopting, a standard that limits the application of high-heat provisions to certain industry sectors.
Health Professionals and Immigration Status (SB 1139) Prohibits a student, including a person without lawful immigration status or a person who is exempt from nonresident tuition, who meets the requirements for admission to a medical degree program at any public or private postsecondary educational institution that offers such a program, or who meets the requirements for admission to a healing arts residency training program whose participants are not paid, from being denied admission based on his or her citizenship or immigration status. The new statutes prohibit specified grant and loan-forgiveness programs from denying an application based on an applicants' citizenship or immigration status.
Janitorial Industry (AB 1978) Implements new registration, record keeping and sexual harassment prevention training requirements for certain janitorial industry employers The new law will cover approximately 220,000 California employees in this sector. The Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) will enforce the new laws, and the Labor Commissioner is authorized to adopt any regulations necessary to carry out the provisions of the bill. Effective July 1, 2018, every janitorial employer must register annually with the Labor Commissioner under prescribed procedures. Janitorial employers are prohibited from conducting any business without registration. The Commissioner is authorized to revoke a registration under certain circumstances. The new law sets application and renewal fees for registration.  The Commissioner must maintain on the department’s website a public database of registered property service employers. The new law also requires every janitorial employer subject to its provisions to keep, for three years, accurate records of specific information regarding employees. By January 1, 2019, the Division must establish a biennial, in-person sexual violence and harassment prevention training requirement for employees and employers with the assistance of a prescribed advisory committee to be convened by the director. By July 1, 2018, and until the division establishes that training requirement, employers are required to provide employees with a DFEH pamphlet on sexual harassment.  The new law establishes civil fines for specific violations of its provisions and vests in the Fair Employment and Housing Commission the exclusive authority to enforce the civil fine provisions.
This table contains summaries of California Laws only. This list was created reviewing state statutes but is not exhaustive nor does it encompass other regulations that may exist, such as local ordinances. This table does not, and is not intended to, contain legal advice, and its contents do not constitute the practice of law or provision of legal counsel. If you are seeking legal advice, or have questions about these laws, you are encouraged to consult an employment law attorney.

Topics: HR Alert, Wage and Hour, Compliance, Labor Laws