The 2017 California legislative session has drawn to a close, and Governor Jerry Brown recently signed a slew of new bills affecting private employers. Below are the major employment-related bills that affect most California employers. All of them take effect on January 1, 2018.
- AB 168: Bans employers from asking job applicants about salary history or relying on salary history information to determine its pay offers. Employers must provide a pay scale upon demand to applicants who want to know what the job pays.
- AB 450: Prohibits employers from providing any federal immigration enforcement agent access to a business without a properly executed warrant and from providing access to employee records without a subpoena. This effectively shields workers from immigration enforcement while on the job unless immigration authorities produce a warrant or subpoena. Employers must also notify all current employees (and their union, if applicable) within 72 hours of notice of a Form I-9 audit by an immigration agency and must provide notice of the results to affected employees.
- AB 1008: Bans most employers with five or more employees from inquiring about job applicants’ criminal conviction history before making a conditional offer of employment. Employers may not consider arrests not leading to conviction, referrals to or participation in a pretrial or posttrial diversion program, or convictions that have been sealed, dismissed, or expunged. Before rejecting a job applicant based on a criminal conviction, employers must conduct an individualized assessment based on multiple factors set forth in the statute. With this law, California becomes the latest state to join the multistate “ban the box” movement.
- SB 63: Requires employers with 20 or more employees to provide up to 12 weeks of parental leave to bond with a newborn or newly placed child within 12 months after the birth or placement. The law doesn’t apply to employers who are covered by both the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) and federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). During parental leave, employers must maintain and pay for employees’ group health plan coverage on the same basis as if they had continued to work. Employees will be eligible if they work more than 12 months, work at least 1,250 hours in the prior 12 months, and work where there are at least 20 employees within 75 miles.
- SB 306: Allows the Labor Commissioner to initiate an investigation into retaliation without a formal complaint by the employee. In addition, before an investigation is completed, an employee or the Labor Commissioner may allege retaliation in order to seek a temporary or preliminary injunction (court order) that prevents termination of employment.
- SB 396: Expands existing sexual harassment training requirement for employers with 50 or more employees to include harassment based on gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation. The Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) will update its nondiscrimination poster to include information on the illegality of sexual harassment. The DFEH will also create a new poster regarding transgender rights, which must be posted in a prominent and accessible location in the workplace.
In addition, the governor vetoed the Gender Pay Gap Transparency Act, AB 1209. That bill would have required employers with 500 or more employees in California to submit data to the state for public disclosure of average and median differences in pay between male and female exempt employees and between male and female board members.
Tips: The new legislation the governor approved will have significant impacts on California employers. Contact your Vigilant employment attorney with any questions on how to implement these changes.
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