Monday, July 14, 2014

Legal Alert: New Employment Laws In Effect in California as of July 1, 2014

The below is from Michael Kalt, attorney at law with Wilson Turner Kosmo in San Diego writing at the Society for Human Resource Management
A number of bills enacted in 2013 took effect on July 1, 2014. These include bills that: 
  • Increased California’s minimum wage to $9. 
  • Expanded California’s paid family leave benefit program. 
  • Enacted new limits on public employers concerning criminal background checks. 
  • Amended the procedures for work-sharing plans used to avoid lay-offs.
First Part of Two-Step Minimum Wage Increase (AB 10) 
Assembly Bill (AB) 10 increased California’s hourly minimum wage from $8 to $9 effective July 1, 2014, and to $10 on Jan. 1, 2016. The first part of this minimum wage increase took effect as scheduled on July 1, and since there are significant penalties for failure to pay the minimum wage, employers should review their pay records and practices to ensure compliance. ...
Employers must also ensure they are now displaying updated posters or notices concerning this increased minimum wage. An updated version of the Department of Industrial Relations’ “Official Notice” for the 2014 and 2016 minimum wage increases is available at: 

Expanded Basis to Receive 'Paid Family Leave' Benefits (SB 770) 
Since 2004, California has provided up to six weeks of wage replacement benefits to workers who take time off work to care for a seriously ill child, spouse, parent, domestic partner, or to bond with a minor child within one year of the birth or adoption of the child. While often referred to as “paid family leave,” this program is funded by additional worker contributions to the Unemployment Compensation Disability Fund and essentially provides “wage replacement” benefits during an already-provided leave. 
Senate Bill (SB) 770 enables employees to also receive these partial-wage-replacement benefits to care for seriously ill grandparents, grandchildren, siblings or parents-in-law, as defined. Please note, this change does not provide new bases for employees to take leave from their employer, but simply expands the types of leaves for which employees can seek wage replacement benefits if their leave is approved. 
New Limits for When Public Employers May Conduct Criminal Background Checks (AB 218) 
AB 218 imposes new conditions concerning when - but not whether - a state or local agency may obtain an applicant’s criminal history. This bill amends Labor Code section 432.7 to generally prohibit a state or local agency from inquiring about criminal convictions until after the applicant’s qualifications for the position have been determined to meet the position’s requirements. It also specifies that a state or local agency would be permitted to conduct a criminal history background check after the applicant has been deemed to meet the position’s requirements. ...
... [A]s a reminder, San Francisco has passed the Fair Chance Ordinance, which enacts new restrictions on a private employer’s ability to obtain and use criminal history information. This ordinance applies to employers with more than 20 employees, regardless of the employees’ locations, and takes effect Aug. 13, 2014. More information about the Fair Chance Ordinance is available on the website of the City and County of San Francisco Office of Labor and Standards Enforcement at:
Changes Regarding Work-Sharing Plans Used by Employers to Avoid Layoffs (AB 1392) 
California and federal law allows employers to participate in the work-sharing unemployment compensation benefits program which makes employees eligible to receive a reduced amount of unemployment compensation benefits if their work hours are reduced by more than 10 percent. For example, employers have used these programs to effectuate a 20 percent reduction of the workforce by reducing full-time employees to four-day workweeks rather than laying off 20 percent of its employees. 
AB 1392 amends California Unemployment Insurance Code section 1279.5 regarding work-sharing plans enacted after July 6, 2014. More information about these changes, as well as the general procedure to obtain the requisite approval from the California Employment Development Department for plans enacted prior to July 5, 2014 and after July 6, 2014, is available at
Full story here.