Copyright: ximagination / 123RF Stock Photo
Copyright: ximagination / 123RF Stock Photo

We’ve written throughout the year about new employment laws that take effect in California in 2015. But as the year winds down, here’s a handy list of the most significant ones (with links to our earlier entries).

  1. Many California employers will be required to provide Paid Sick Leave starting July 1, 2015. We wrote about the law generally here, about some specific challenges it imposes here, and about how it compares to a similar law in effect in San Francisco here. [Update: November 24, 2014: The DLSE has issued a new notice to post by January 1, 2014. Download it here.]
  2. California Labor Code § 2810.3 will require businesses to automatically share liability with a “labor contractor,” such as a temporary staffing agency, if the agency fails to pay wages or provide workers’ compensation insurance to its employees who are assigned to work at the business.
  3. Expanding the definition of “national origin” under the Fair Employment and Housing Act to include the circumstances under which someone got their driver’s license (i.e. if they got a type of license provided to undocumented workers).
  4. AB 1443 extends the protections under the FEHA to interns.
  5. AB 2503 requires that mandatory sexual harassment training include information on bullying.
  6. AB 2617 prohibits mandatory arbitration agreements from including claims for violations of certain civil code sections dealing with violence or threats of violence based on sex, race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, disability, medical condition, genetic information, marital status, sexual orientation or political affiliation. It seems to us to be a clear violation of the Federal Arbitration Act, but California courts and legislatures have been fighting that battle for years.
  7. AB 326 – Sometimes technology advances more quickly than legislation. Employers must report workplace deaths or serious illnesses or injuries to Cal OSHA immediately. That’s not changing. But where the old law says the reports must be made by telephone or telegraph, the new law says by telephone or e-mail. Who knew that the job outlook for telegraph operators could get any bleaker?
  8. New minimum wages in San Francisco ($11.05 effective January 1, 2015), Oakland ($12.25 effective March 2, 2015), San Jose ($10.30 effective January 1, 2015), San Diego ($9.75 effective January 1, 2015), and hotels within the City of Los Angeles ($15.37 effective July 1, 2015 or July 1, 2016, depending on the number of hotel rooms).
  9. The minimum pay for exempt computer professionals increases to $41.27 per hour, $7,165.12 per month, or $85,981.40 per year.

Here are steps employers can take to better protect themselves:

  • Make sure personnel policies and handbooks are up to date;
  • Train managers to understand that certain issues, such as requests to accommodate a disability, leave requests, deciding who’s exempt from overtime requirements, etc., should be escalated to someone with specialized knowledge;
  • If you use labor contractors or temporary employment agencies, consider the steps outlined here; and
  • Most importantly, continue following our widely acclaimed blog for further updates on California employment law.

In the meantime, we’ll wait to learn which employment laws are being taken off the books to make room for these new ones.