The California legislature passed a number of bills effective 1/1/2014 affecting California employers. Certain of these new employment and labor laws require the prudent employer to update their employee handbooks.
Suggested handbook updates:
AB 11 – Time Off For Reserve Peace Officers and Emergency Rescue Personnel Training
Handbook update suggestion: update your time off for volunteer firefighters policy to include reserve peace officers and emergency rescue personnel who all are entitled to a leave of absence of up to 14 days per calendar year for the purpose of engaging in fire, law enforcement, or emergency rescue training.
Employers affected: California employers with 50 or more employees.
AB 556 – Military and Veteran Status Added As Protected Classes to FEHA
Handbook update suggestion: update the protected classes under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) to include Military and Veteran status.
Employers affected: California employers with 5 or more employees.
SB 288 – Time Off For Victims of Crime Expanded
Handbook update suggestion: SB 288 adds a new section to the Labor Code that requires employers to provide unpaid time off to employees if they are a victim of certain crimes (mainly felony crimes). As a result, we suggest you add this additional leave entitlement (unpaid) to your employee handbook leave section. See a detailed list of the protected reasons for time off under SB 288.
Employers affected: all California employers.
SB 400 – Stalking Added To Protections For Time Off Under Labor Code 230
Handbook update suggestion: Time off for victims of stalking has been added to Labor Code 230. Leave provisions relating to Labor Code section 230 (including time off for jury duty, as a witness under subpoena, victim of a crime to appear in court under subpoena or court order, or victim of domestic violence or sexual assault to seek judicial relief to protect the victim or his/her child) should be revised to include victims of stalking.
Employers affected: all California employers.
SB 400 – Stalking Added To Protections For Time Off Under Labor Code 230.1
Handbook update suggestion: Time off for victims of stalking has been added to Labor Code 230.1. Labor Code section 230.1 applies to employers with 25 or more employees (in comparison to Labor Code section 230 which applies to all California employers). Handbooks should be updated to add stalking to the time off provisions for victims of domestic violence or sexual assault. Protected time off includes seeking medical attention, social or counseling services, or to take other actions to increase the victim’s safety.
Employers affected: California employers with 25 or more employees.
SB 435 – “Recovery Period” Added to Rest/Meal Periods Requirements
Handbook update suggestion: SB 435 amends Labor Code section 226.7 (formerly addressing rest and meal periods only) to add a new “recovery period” entitlement to employees. So like rest and meal periods, California employers are now required to provide “recovery periods.” A “recovery period” is defined as “a cool down period afforded an employee to prevent heat illness.”
Your employee handbook should already include a rest period and a meal period policy (if you have non-exempt employees, the vast majority of you). A “recovery period” policy should be added somewhere in the vicinity of your rest/meal period policies. A “recovery period” may not technically apply to every workplace. However if drafted properly and consistently with the rules set forth in the California Supreme Court’s Brinker decision, including a recovery period policy in your employee handbook is likely to be more beneficial than not including one.
Employers affected: all California employers with non-exempt employees.
SB 770 – Reasons for Family Temporary Disability Insurance/Paid Family Leave Expanded
Handbook update suggestion: This is an interesting one. First, we must start with saying this law (and title of the law) is a misnomer. For more on why that is read the full 2014 New Laws post on amendments to “Paid Family Leave” SB 770.
Before SB 770, an employee who took an authorized leave of absence from work to care for a seriously ill child, spouse, parent, or domestic partner, or to bond with a minor child within one year of the birth or placement of the child in connection with foster care or adoption could apply through the EDD for “Paid Family Leave” and obtain wage replacement benefits for up to 6 weeks in any 12 month period. SB 770 added grandparent, grandchild, and sibling to list of family members above. Thus, if your employee handbook contains a Family Temporary Disability Insurance/Paid Family Leave policy, the list of family members should be updated to include grandparent, grandchild, and sibling.
Employers affected: all California employers who have a Family Temporary Disability Insurance/Paid Family Leave policy in their employee handbook.
The above are “suggestions.” We provide this for informational purposes only. This is not legal advice. You should consult an experienced employment and labor lawyer and/or have one review your particular handbook as applied to your particular circumstances. See full disclaimer in footer below.