Fall 2019 California Legislative Employer Update
AB 5, Worker status: employees and independent contractors. “Assembly Bill 5 is a landmark legislation for workers and our economy. It will help reduce worker misclassification-workers being wrongly classified as “independent contractors,” rather than employees, which erodes basic worker protection like the minimum wage, paid sick days and health insurance.” – Gavin Newsom
Click here to read AB 5
AB 1554, Employers: dependent care assistance program, notice to employees. Existing law relating to the obligations of an employer requires an employer to notify employees of prescribed information relating to employment and benefits. This bill requires an employer to notify, in a prescribed manner, an employee who participates in a flexible spending account of any deadline to withdraw funds before the end of the plan year. Click here to read the entire bill here.
AB 1804 and AB1805, Occupational safety and health. AB1804 and AB1805 change the definition of “serious injury or illness” and “serious exposure” in regards to injury reporting requirements. They establish that a serious violation exists when the division determines that there is a realistic possibility that death or serious injury could result from the actual hazard created by the condition alleged in the complaint. Click here to read AB1804 / Click here to read AB1805
SB 778, Committee on Labor, Public Employment and Retirement. Employers: sexual harassment training: requirements. This bill extends the requirement that an employer with 5 or more employees provide at least 2 hours of classroom or other effective interactive training and education regarding sexual harassment to all supervisory employees and at least 1 hour of classroom or other effective interactive training and education regarding sexual harassment to all nonsupervisory employees in California within 6 months of their assumption of a position by January 1, 2021, and thereafter once every 2 years. The bill also requires new nonsupervisory employees to be provided the training within 6 months of hire and new supervisory employees to be provided the training within 6 months of the assumption of a supervisory position. Employers who provided this training and education in 2019 are not required to provide it again until 2 years thereafter. This bill is to take effect immediately as an urgency statute. Click here to read the entire bill.
AB 1532, Bauer-Kahan. Food facilities: food safety: employee knowledge. This bill would impose a state-mandated local program making changes to the food handler card requirements used by food handlers who are employed by a food facility or an organized camp, as defined, that are subject to the California Retail Food Code. The bill also requires, by January 1, 2021, that the food handler training course include instruction relating to major food allergens and symptoms of allergic reactions. Click here to read the entire bill.
*Expanding Statute of Limitations for FEHA Claims: Someone alleging violation of the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) currently has one year to file a complaint with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH). AB 9 extends that period from one to three years.
AB 9 is a repeat of 2018’s AB 1870, which Governor Jerry Brown vetoed. Governor Brown believed the one-year limit encouraged prompt reporting and resolution of disputes while evidence and memories are still fresh. Because AB 9 triples the statute of limitations to three years, it will be even more important for employers to keep detailed, accurate and contemporaneous employment-related documentation.
*Employee Data Exempt from CCPA … For Now: The California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), passed in 2018, changed the rules for consumer data collection, allowing consumers to know about, and have deleted, data that businesses collected about them, among other things. The broad CCPA language encompasses both employees and job applicants, which meant employees, upon request, could potentially ask to have information from their personnel files deleted under the CCPA. AB 25 exempts employee data from the CCPA; however, the exemption is only good for one year.
*Banning Mandatory Employment Arbitration Agreements: AB 51 attempts to effectively ban mandatory arbitration agreements with employees. Last year, Governor Brown vetoed a virtually identical bill, AB 3080, citing his recognition that the bill “plainly violates federal law.”
This bill does not apply to any arbitration agreements entered into prior to January 1, 2020, so employers may wish to seek legal counsel on how to proceed with amending their arbitration agreements after January 1, 2020.
*Expansion of Paid Family Leave: Under SB 83, beginning July 1, 2020, the maximum duration of Paid Family Leave (PFL) benefits an individual can receive from California’s State Disability Insurance program will be increased from six to eight weeks.
*Expanded Lactation Accommodation Requirements: SB 142, modeled after San Francisco’s lactation accommodation ordinance, expands employer requirements to provide appropriate workplace lactation accommodations. Specifically, a lactation room must be close to the employee’s work area, shielded from view, free from intrusion and have certain features, like electricity. The employer also must provide access to a sink with running water and a refrigerator. Employers must also create and implement a lactation accommodation policy.
*Prohibiting Discrimination Based on Protected Hairstyles: SB 188 expanded the definition of race under the FEHA to prohibit racial discrimination and harassment based upon a person’s natural hairstyle. Most significantly, this impacts workplace dress codes and grooming standards that prohibited certain hairstyles. Under SB 188, natural and “protective” hairstyles such as “braids, locks, and twists” are now protected.
*added 10/17/19 California Chamber Advocacy
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