The California legislature passed a host of new laws affecting employers in the sunny state of California. Time to redo those budgets and employee handbooks.
New Wage and Hour Laws
For all California employers AB 10 increases the minimum wage to $9/hour (effective 7/1/2014) and then $10/hour (effective 1/1/2016) per hour. But that’s nothing if you have exempt employees you pay on a salary basis. They get automatic raises of 25% between now and January 2016. That’s because the minimum salary for an employee to qualify as exempt is tied to the minimum wage.
SB 435 added a new “recovery period” to rest/meal period law such that an employer must now provide a “recovery period” in addition to rest periods (10 minutes paid rest time for every four hours worked or major fraction thereof) and meal periods (30 minutes unpaid for work periods exceeding 5 hours, and another for work periods exceeding 10). A “recovery period” is defined as “a cool down period afforded an employee to prevent heat illness.” The length of a “recovery period” appears variable . . . depending on how long it takes the employee to “cool down” apparently.
For those baby boomers out there AB 241 sends your cost of in home care for your parents (and yourself in a few years) through the roof. The cost of 24/7 live in care just increased a minimum of 21.5%. Whereas California law under Wage Order 15 used to allow payment of straight time hours at minimum wage to 24/7 care givers who lived in your/your parent’s home, you now have to pay overtime for all hours over 9 in a workday and 45 in a workweek. If you are mathematically inclined you quickly discerned the cost of elderly in home 24/7 care is $56,784/year based on a 16 hour workday (if California law allows a carve out for “sleep time” which is an open question) and $91,728/year based on a 24 hour workday (if there is no “sleep time” carve out), respectively. And that’s based on current minimum wage at $8/hour (remember minimum wage increases to $9/hr and then $10/hr by 1/1/2016). If you have a problem with that, call your California state representative or move your parents out of California.
Unique to successors of farm labor contractors, SB 168 makes a “successor” liable for wages owed to the predecessor farm labor contractor’s employees. An individual/business is a successor to a farm labor contractor under new Labor Code section 1698.9 if it uses substantially the same facilities or workforce to offer the same services as the predecessor; shares ownership, management, control of the workforce, or interrelations of business operations with the predecessor; employs in a managerial capacity any person who directly or indirectly controlled the wages, hours or working conditions of the predecessor; or is an immediate family member or any owner, partner, officer, licensee or director of the predecessor.
Adjustments To FEHA
The protected classes subject to anti-discrimination protection under the Fair Employment and Housing Act include military and veteran status AB 556.
The California legislature felt compelled in SB 292 to spell out unlawful sexual harassment “need not be motivated by sexual desire” (which in the author’s view was clearly already the case).
New and Expanded Employee Leave Laws
The California legislature expanded various leave laws, including time off for victims of stalking SB 400 and for victims of a host of other (mainly felony) crimes SB 288. Family Temporary Disability Insurance/Paid Family Leave eligibility provisions were expanded by SB 770 to include grandparents, grandchildren and siblings. Reserve peace officers and emergency rescue personnel who work for employers with 50 or more employees are entitled to 14 days of time off per calendar year to train under AB 11.
More Employee Protections Against Small and Medium Employers
The California legislature added more protections to employees and more ways to hold employers accountable, including prohibitions against retaliation by employers for immigration related issues AB 263, allowing the Labor Commissioner to secure real property liens for Labor Commissioner Berman hearing wage awards against employers AB 1386, criminal fines and jail time for willful failure to remit payroll tax and withholdings for employee benefit plan programs SB 390, liquidated damages for minimum wage violations upon audit and citation by the Labor Commissioner AB 442, and a change to Labor Code section 218.5 to make it essentially a one way attorney’s fee shifting statute in favor of employees for actions for nonpayment of wages (employees automatically get their fees as prevailing party but employers have to proof “bad faith” by employee even when employer is the prevailing party) SB 462.
Tough enough starting and running a business and providing jobs anywhere. But in the sunny state of California a business owner must mind his or her “P’s and Q’s.” While some or more of the above may seem excessive and/or unfair (see unbalanced “prevailing party” attorney’s fees standard above) the prudent business owner or manager must know and understand the basics of HR law in California to survive.
And, you may want to update your employee handbook.