This year, the California Legislature introduced a whopping 2,495 bills – and hundreds of these had to do with labor and employment issues. Governor Brown signed many into law on October 15, 2017. Here are the top 4 new laws for 2018:
“BAN THE BOX” – Criminal Conviction History
Los Angeles and San Francisco already had local ordinances prohibiting employers for asking about criminal histories before a job is offered to an applicant. This new law (AB 1008) applies similar requirements upon employers statewide.
The law prohibits employers with five (5) or more employees from considering criminal history until a conditional offer of employment has been made. If an employer decides to deny employment based on the criminal history, it must make an individualized assessment as to the 1) nature and gravity of the offense or conduct, 2) the time that has passed since the offense or conduct and completion of the sentence, and 3) the nature of the job held or sought.
If the employer determines not to hire the applicant, it must provide notice to the employee of 1) the disqualifying conviction that is a basis for the decision, 2) a copy of the conviction history, and 3) an explanation of the applicant’s right to respond before the decision becomes final and the deadline by which to respond (at least five business days).
If employer makes a final decision to deny employment, it must provide another written notice containing 1) the final denial or disqualification, 2) any existing procedure the employer has for the applicant to challenge the decision or request reconsideration, and 3) the right to file a complaint with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH).
BAN OF SALARY HISTORY INQUIRIES
This new law (AB 168) prohibits employers from inquiring about an applicant’s salary history, including compensation and benefits. Employers also cannot rely on salary history information of an applicant as a factor in determining whether to offer employment to an applicant or what salary to offer an applicant. Applicants, however, can “voluntarily and without prompting” disclose salary history information, and if so, then the employer can rely or consider such information in determining salary for that applicant.
Also, employers must provide, upon reasonable request, the pay scale for the position.
JOB-PROTECTED PARENTAL LEAVE FOR SMALLER EMPLOYERS
Currently, employers with 50 or more employees are required to comply with the California Family Rights Act and provide parental leave of up to 12 weeks to bond with a new child (birth, adoption, foster care placement) within one year. This new law (SB 63) lowers the number of employees for covered businesses to 20 employees in a 75-mile radius. The law also prohibits an employer from refusing to maintain and pay for coverage under a group health plan for an employee who takes this leave. The employer must provide the employee with a guarantee of employment in the same or comparable position following the leave.
The employee must also meet certain eligibility requirements like those under the CFRA and federal Family Medical Leave Act. The leave is unpaid, however, the employee can use accrued vacation pay, paid sick time, or other accrued paid time off.
JOINT LIABILITY FOR GENERAL CONTRACTORS ON PRIVATE CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS
Under the new law (AB 1701), General Contractors on a private construction project can be liable for wage and benefit liabilities incurred by subcontractors at any tier of the project. This would include items like unpaid/underpaid wages, unpaid overtime and related wage violations. General Contractors can request from subcontractors the payroll records.
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Top Tips for Employers:
- Get those Employee Handbooks updated, and start training Managers and Supervisors on these new laws.
- Edit applications so that they do not contain “taboo” questions regarding salary history and criminal backgrounds.
- Edit job postings (“help wanted ads”) so that they do not ask applicants to send in salary history information when applying.
- Pre-determine pay scales for jobs, and create a process to respond to reasonable inquiries regarding those pay scales.
- Stay informed! There are several other important new employment laws as well, including those involving anti-harassment training, immigration, human trafficking, and retaliation and whistleblowing.
For over 21 years, James has provided day-to-day counseling and advice to employers regarding compliance with employment laws, and reducing risks of employment-related claims and lawsuits. He also provides vigorous and strategic litigation defense when claims and lawsuits do arise. In 2018, James will serve as the President of the Contra Costa County Bar Association, and has been on the Board for many years.
DISCLAIMER: Information provided on this website is not legal advice. It does not create an attorney-client relationship. Nor should you act on anything stated in this article without conferring with the Author or other legal counsel regarding your specific situation.