New Year, New Laws for Businesses
California enacted many new laws that will affect the day-to-day operations, practices and policies of California businesses in 2015. The California Chamber of Commerce’s “white paper” identifies some of the noteworthy employment laws. Here is an overview:
The biggest news in years relates to mandatory paid sick leave. AB 1522, the Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014, requires employers to provide paid sick leave to any employee who worked in California for 30 days at an accrual rate of one hour for every 30 hours worked. Employers are allowed to limit an employee’s use of paid sick leave to 24 hours (or three days) in each year of employment. The effective date for employers to begin providing the paid sick leave is July 1.
AB 1443 offers protections for unpaid interns and volunteers by adding them to the list of individuals protected from harassment under the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). It also prohibits employers from discriminating against these individuals and it extends religious accommodation requirements for them.
The so-called “AB 60 driver licenses,” driver’s licenses issued to undocumented persons who can submit satisfactory proof of identity and California residency, started being issued on Jan. 1. The new law AB 1660 makes it a violation of FEHA for an employer to discriminate against an individual who holds this license.
AB 1792 provides for prohibition of discrimination against Medi-Cal recipients. It also requires state agencies to prepare an annual list of the top 500 employers with the most number of employees enrolled in this public assistance program.
AB 2053 requires training on prevention of abusive conduct for those employers that are subject to the mandatory sexual harassment prevention training.
The purpose of AB 1897 is primarily to hold companies accountable for wage-and-hour violations when they use staffing agencies or other labor contractors to supply workers.
AB 1723 and AB 2743 clarify specific issues of waiting time penalties, i.e. an employer’s willful failure to timely pay wages to a resigned or discharged employee.
A number of bills signed this year relate to prevailing wages. Employers who provide services or construction work on public works projects for the government or public entities must pay the prevailing wage, which is usually higher than minimum wage.
Several new laws relate to background checks. AB 1650 states that contractors bidding on state contracts will not ask new applicants about their criminal history. AB 1634, in effect, clarifies penalties for failure to fix workplace safety hazards. AB 326 allows employers to email workplace safety reports. Employers may also submit by phone – but no longer by telegraph!
Several bills relating to workers’ compensation were signed into law in 2014. The laws have to do with death benefits, expedited hearings and cleanup charges.
Three new laws clarify unemployment insurance. AB 1556 revises eligibility standards, SB 1083 allows physician assistants to begin certifying an employee’s disability and SB 1314 extends the UI appeals process.
Finally, SB 1034 states that the employer-imposed waiting periods for health care are governed by the 90-day period authorized under the federal Affordable Care Act.
If any of these laws affect your business and you’d like to learn more, visit http://rfr.bz/sz5ut.
Lisa Dupuy, executive director
CV Chamber of Commerce
3131 Foothill Blvd. ‘D’
La Crescenta, CA 91214