A new year brings new legislation. Below are some of the new employment laws in California that attorneys, employers, and employees may find particularly interesting. All of the laws described below went into effect January 1, 2018.
S.B. 63 – California New Parent Leave Act
Employers that have at least 20 employees within 75 miles of a worksite must provide eligible employees with up to 12 weeks of job-protected parental leave in order to bond with a new child within one year of the child's birth, adoption, or foster care placement. The new law provides parental leave to employees who previously were not eligible under the federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) or California Family Rights Act (CFRA). The law is expressly applicable to public employers (employer definition includes "the state, and any political or civil subdivision of the state and cities").
A.B. 168 – Employers May Not Ask Job Applicants About Salary History
No employer, state and local government employers and the Legislature included, may seek a job applicant's salary history (including compensation and benefits) or rely on an applicant's salary history as a factor in determining whether to make an offer of employment or what salary to offer the applicant. The prohibition applies to requests for salary history made orally or in writing by the employer personally or through an agent. However, the law does not prohibit an applicant from voluntarily, and without prompting, disclosing their salary history, and employers may still ask applicants about their salary expectations. Employers must also provide a pay scale for the position to an applicant upon reasonable request.
A.B. 1008 – Employers May Not Ask About Criminal Convictions ("Ban the Box")
Employers may not ask job applicants to disclose their criminal conviction histories or otherwise inquire about or consider conviction history before making a conditional offer of employment. The law also imposes certain assessment and notice requirements on employers who subsequently use conviction history in denying a position to an applicant. There are exceptions for instances where employers, including government agencies, are required by law to inquire about convictions.
A.B. 450 – Immigrant Worker Protection Act
Employers must require a warrant before allowing an immigration enforcement agent to enter any non-public area of the workplace and must require a subpoena or court order before allowing an immigration enforcement agent to review or obtain employee records. Employers must also provide certain notice to employees of any inspection of employment records by an immigration agency. Violations of the Act can result in penalties of up to $10,000 per violation.
S.B. 3 – Annual Minimum Wage Increase
California's minimum wage will increase from $10.50 per hour to $11.00 per hour for employers with more than 25 employees. For employers with 25 or fewer employees, the minimum wage increase is from $10.00 per hour to $10.50 per hour. The increase in minimum wage also affects the minimum salary employers must pay to exempt employees (a monthly salary of at least two times the state minimum wage).
Attorneys in the employment field should be ready to answer the questions that will be created by these new laws and recommend appropriate changes to workplace policies and employment related documents.