Human resource practices have been hugely impacted across the country as of January 1st. California has had the most changes in human resource changes over all. Here are some of the changes Governor Brown signed into law. If you are a business owner in California you should already be compliance, but many of these concerns are already being discussed in several other states. California has been known to set trends that the rest of the country follows.
First is the removal of any verbal or written questions related to how much an applicant made at a previous job. In addition to California, Oregon, Massachusetts, and Delaware have banned the question. Some cities have as well for either private or public employers. This action is a growing as more states are considering the removal of this question. The reason for banning salary history questions is to eliminate the gender pay gap and wage discrimination. In March of 2017, The Business Insider, reported that 54 years after the Equal Pay Act was passed, women still earned 79 cents for every dollar a man earns and their median income was $10,800.00 less than men’s.
- California’s new ban-the-box law, A.B. 1008, will prohibit employers with at least five workers from considering a job applicant’s criminal history until a conditional employment offer is made. If the employer decides to deny employment based on an applicant’s criminal history, certain steps must be followed and notices must be supplied to the applicant before reaching a final decision.
Criminal history questions should not be on the job application, and all staff involved in the recruitment and hiring process should receive training and written instructions to refrain from asking any such questions at the pre-offer stage
- Reminder – The State Minimum Wage is Increasing
The California minimum wage increases on January 1, 2018, from $10.50 an hour to $11.00 an hour for employers of 26 or more employees, and from $10.00 an hour to $10.50 an hour for employees of 25 or fewer employees. This means that exempt employees, in addition to meeting exempt duties requirements, must be paid a weekly salary of no less than $880 weekly and $45,760 annually ($840 weekly and $43,680 annually for employers of 25 or fewer employees). All employers should also determine if their localmunicipalities and cities have minimum wage requirements that exceed California’s requirements. While this will not affect the exempt salary threshold, it will affect your minimum wage obligations to your nonexempt employees.
Parental Leave Act
The California Family Rights Act, (CFRA), has been amended so that an employer with a minimum of 20 employees that work within a 75 mile radius, can take 12 weeks of unpaid leave to bond with a new baby. The old law only applied to an employer with 50 employees and it is estimated this change will now apply to 27 million employees, both public and private. This law is eligible for those who have been employed at least 12 months plus an additional 1,250 hours with their current employer. This law covers not just new births, but adoption and foster care placements. Although the leave is unpaid, the employer must provide the employee a guarantee of employment when they return for either the same or a comparable position. The employee is allowed to use paid sick time, any accrued vacation or any other accrued time they are owed. The employee can apply for California Paid Family Leave benefits while the employer continues to pay for their group health coverage. This law does not change an employee’s right to take up to four months leave of pregnancy related disability.
Once again, due to the prevalence of the many sexual harassment lawsuits across the country this topic is red hot. California’s new law S.B. 396 uses the term anti-harassment to cover all types of potential situations. Supervisors in companies with 50 or more employees are now required to take two hours of sexual harassment training every two years. The training must be “presented by trainers or educators with knowledge and expertise” and must include “practical examples inclusive of harassment based on gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation.”
This law S.B. 306 provides a layer of protection from an employer regarding an employee who is considered a whistleblower. Should the employee be dismissed, the employer could be forced to reinstate the employee. It also allows the labor Commissioner to initiate an investigation with or without a complaint being filed by an employee.
At least 12 jurisdictions in California have increased their minimum wage requirements, most of them significantly. Point of fact, Mountain View, California’s new wage rate is $15.00 an hour, with the lowest of the changes being $12.00 an hour in Milpitas.
California had the most human resource changes in 2018, but many other states will be impacted even if they take a wait and see attitude. As mentioned above, the salary history questions are already being looked at in other areas, we will have to see which other changes will be adapted as well.