New Year equals New Laws for Employers!

Don’t fret- Lisa Pierson Weinberger, our trusted GO TO source for all domestic employment questions, has clearly outlined the new California employment-related laws effective January 1st:

The California Legislature, along with many city councils throughout California, was busy this past Fall passing a number of new initiatives. I have summarized below the new employment-related laws that are most relevant to my clients (so please note that this is not an exhaustive list of all new legislation), as well as laws that were passed in prior legislative sessions but became effective on January 1st:

For employers with 26 or more employees, the minimum wage has been increased to $10.50 per hour in California (the state minimum wage remains at $10.00 per hour for employers with 25 or fewer employees).

Several cities will see an increase, as well (for employers of all sizes unless otherwise noted):

Oakland: $12.86 per hour
Palo Alto: $11.10 per hour
San Diego: $11.50 per hour
San Mateo: $12.00 per hour
Santa Monica: $12.00 per hour for employers with 26 or more employees

Last year, California implemented a gender pay equity law. This year, the Legislature has expanded that law to prohibit unequal pay between employees of a different race or ethnicity for performing substantially similar work. If you have not done an audit to confirm that your pay practices are equal across the board, now is the time to do it.

As you all know, employers are required to confirm an employee’s eligibility to work in the United States by completing a Form I-9 at the time of hire. The Form I-9 specifies which documents an employee can provide to satisfy the requirements of the document.

A new California law makes it unlawful for an employer to request more or different documents than those specified in the I-9, to refuse to honor documents tendered that on their face reasonably appear to be genuine, or to re-investigate or re-verify an incumbent employee’s authorization to work. In sum, do not do more than what the I-9 requires.

In 2014, the California Domestic Worker Bill of Rights went into effect, providing new overtime laws for domestic workers. At the time that the bill was passed, it included a provision stating that it would expire in 2017. However, during this last legislative session, the Governor signed a bill removing the 2017 expiration date – which means that the overtime laws for domestic workers are here to stay. If you have domestic workers and you either do not know what laws should apply to them, or you have been waiting to see if this law would go away before doing anything about it, it is imperative that you become compliant as quickly as possible.

A new law requires an online child-care job posting service to post specified statements related to background checks and a parent’s right to complaint information on its website.

On April 5, 2016, San Francisco became the first American jurisdiction to mandate fully paid parental leave for eligible parents to bond with their child. In connection with the California Paid Family Leave program, which already provides six weeks of partially paid leave (55% of pay, up to $1,129 per week), the new Paid Parental Leave Ordinance will require some employers to make up the difference, providing full pay for all six weeks of leave for most employees.

The City of San Francisco will begin its gradual rollout of this new Ordinance by covering employees who work for employers with 50 or more employees. Over the course of 2017, the ordinance will be phased in until employers with just 20 employees or more will be required to comply after January 1, 2018. If this law applies to you (either as an employee or an employer), please contact my office for more information about your rights and obligations.

It is now unlawful for a California employee to be required to sign a contract providing that (1) a dispute would be adjudicated in a different state, or (2) the substantive, protective laws of California would not apply. In other words, employers cannot require California employees to travel out of state to resolve a dispute (whether through arbitration or litigation), or to provide that a different state’s law would apply to the employment relationship. As such, it is important for employers to review their standard forms to ensure that they are in compliance with these new requirements.

Beginning March 1, 2017, any business establishment that has single-user toilet facilities must mark them as “all-gender” toilet facilities. If this applies to your place of employment, please plan to make any necessary changes so that you are able to be in compliance in March.

As a reminder, in April 2016, regulations governing the California Fair Employment and Housing Act and the California Family Rights Act were amended. Those amendments now require employers to post two amended workplace notices (the Pregnancy Disability Leave Notice A: “Your Rights and Obligations as a Pregnant Employee” and the California Family Rights Act Notice B: Family Care and Medical Leave and Pregnancy Disability Leave). If you have not yet posted these notices, it’s time to do so!

If you have any other questions, please contact Lisa, she is a pure joy to work with and makes these complicated laws less scary!

EMAIL: lpw@lawofficelpw.com

PHONE: 310.927.5559