Governor Brown recently signed several California bills into law, several of which will impact employers and employment law. Below is a summary of more California legislation which will take effect on January 1, 2014:
Protection for military and veteran status – (AB 556 - signed 10.10.13) Expands the Fair Employment and Housing Act to include “military and veteran status” in the list of protected categories. The law will permit employers to inquire about military or veteran status for the purpose of awarding a preference for veterans that is allowed by law.
Prevailing wage penalties – (AB 1336 - signed 10.13.13) Contractors working on public works projects are generally required to pay employees the “prevailing wage” rate. This bill extends the time for the Labor Commissioner to serve an assessment or commence an action for an alleged violation of the prevailing wage requirements from 180 days to 18 months. This new law also changes the disclosure requirements on certain payroll records which are made available for inspection under the law.
Minimum wage – The California Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) annually establishes minimum wages for computer software employees as well as physicians and surgeons in order for them to be considered as exempt from overtime regulations. The DIR recently raised the minimum monthly salary for computer software employees from $6,927.75 in 2013 to $7,010.88 in 2014 ($84,130.53 annually in 2014). It also raised the hourly rate for physicians and surgeons from $72.70 in 2013 to $73.57 in 2014. As long as employers keep their wages at or above these levels, they will not have to pay these employees overtime. Additionally, (AB 442 – signed 10.11.13) amends the law to add the payment of liquidated damages (i.e., doubling the amount owed) as a penalty for employers violating the minimum wage requirements.