New California Labor Laws That Might Affect YOU
Most of these are effective January 1st
WAGE AND HOUR LAWS
California Minimum Wage AB 10 Beginning July 1st the minimum wage will rise from $8 an hour up to $9 as a state minimum. This will be raised again January 1, 2016 to $10 per hour. Make sure your employer is ready for these changes.
Domestic Workers: AB 241The new California laws include a Domestic Workers Bill of Rights providing overtime for some in-home workers, to include personal attendants for the elderly, disabled or ill. Many home care workers work 12 hour shifts without overtime they may be entitled to.
Rest periods and Meals:SB435 New guidelines extend meal and rest protections to so called “recovery” periods employees may take in order to prevent heat, related illnesses. Employees cannot be forced to perform work related activities through such periods. The new laws also provide monetary penalties if employees are denied such a rest break. This means you can’t be given a “break” out of the heat, but required to do paperwork or other “less strenuous” duties during your break.
New penalties for Violating Minimum Wage Law: AB 442 Employers are required to pay damages to any employee for failing to follow new minimum wage guidelines. In addition, there are penalties for employers cited by the state labor commissioner for minimum wage violations. Not only will they have to pay you any damages, but there are fines from the state for breaking the law.
Liens Against Real Property: AB 1386 This portion of the law provides for the filing of a lien on any employers’ real property should they fail to pay their fines or back wages owed to workers as demanded by the California Labor Commission. If your company is found guilty and doesn’t pay what they owe you, the state can put a lien against their property or assets until the pay you.
Criminal Penalties on Wage Withholding Violations: SB390 Any employer who fails to forward monies withheld from an employee’s wages that were made pursuant to state, local, or federal law could now face criminal fines and penalties along with any other liabilities.
NEW PROTECTION LAWS
Protections for Defending Your rights Under New Labor Code: AB 263 New labor code bars any employer from retaliating against an employee or employees who assert their rights under the law. It also sets a standard civil penalty of up to $10,000 for each worker, per violation, by the employer. In other words, you can’t be given worse shifts or fired, etc for standing up for yourself and defending your rights.
Whistle-blowers: SB 496 This will protect any employee who files a report alleging a violation of wage and hour laws from retaliation by their employer. Again, speak up for your rights and you are protected under the law.
Immigration: AB 263 New labor code prohibits the employer from making a threat of contacting immigration authorities if an employee should file a formal complaint alleging wage or overtime violations. You cannot be forced to work for less or without proper breaks under the threat of being reported to immigration authorities.
Revocation of Business License: SB 666 The state may now suspend or revoke any employer’s business license for threatening to report, or reporting to a federal law enforcement agent, any worker’s immigration status. That’s right! The state can take away the employers licenses to do business if they try to force you to “accept your situation” by reporting you to immigration. ALL EMPLOYEES have rights to fair wages and proper work conditions.
Applicant Background Checks:AB218 Effective July 14, 2014, if you apply for a new job, you cannot be required to disclose your criminal history or do a background check until you have first been deemed qualified for the position. This means, they have to interview you and decide you are otherwise capable before doing a background check.
Filing a False claim: While many of the new laws protect the employee, there are also protections for employers against bad claims. The new law provides for attorney’s fees and costs to be reimbursed to an employer who wins in a case filed against them for non-payment of wages, benefits or health and welfare pension funds. But only if the court finds that the case was filed in bad faith by the employee. This means you can be held liable for these fees if you file a frivolous claim.
New Discrimination Classes: AB 556 This year “Military and Veteran status” will be added as categories protected from discrimination through the Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”). Status is defined under FEHA as “a member or veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces, U.S. Armed Forces Reserve, the U.S. National Guard, and the California National Guard.”
Sexual Harassment Definition Clarified: SB 292 The new code clarifies that sexual desire is not required as motivation for sexual harassment to occur.
Caregiver Leave, San Francisco: The Family-Friendly Workplace Ordinance requires that covered employers consider requests for “flexible or predictable working arrangements to assist with care giving responsibilities.” Such employees are shielded from negative action or discrimination at work based on their “caregiver status.” All companies with San Francisco locations will have to post this ordinance in the workplace with other required postings (when poster is available).
Protections for Victims of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault and Stalking: SB 400 The laws that are in place to protect victims of domestic violence and sexual assault will now be extended to stalking victims as well. No California employer can discharge, discriminate against or otherwise retaliate against an employee who needs time off to deal with legal matters stemming from such issues, i.e. court appearances or other. Any company with at least 25 employees is required to allow for leave to attend, psychological or medical treatment and /or safety planning. California law, strictly prohibits discrimination or retaliation against any employee based on his or her being a victim of stalking, domestic violence or sexual assault. Furthermore, it requires that an employer provide reasonable accommodations. These may include the implementation of safety measures.
Emergency Duty Time off: AB 11 California labor code has expanded to provide leave for volunteer firefighters who are training for emergency duty. As of Jan. 1st any employer of 50 people or more must also allow employees who are registered as reserve peace officers, or emergency rescue personnel to take up to 14 days off to train to perform such emergency duty.
Time Off for Victims of Crime: SB288 The rights of some crime victims have been expanded so they may take time off from work to appear in court proceedings any time their rights as a victim can be affected. Not all victims are included in this coverage and all workers are still required to follow all of their company’s rules for requesting time off.
Expansion of Paid Family Leave Benefits: SB 770 Effective July 1st, The Paid Family Leave Act is expanding to allow workers to receive partial wage replacement benefits while caring for grandparents, grandchildren, siblings and parents-in-law. The right to receive PFL benefits from the state, remains separate from an employee’s right to take time off. The definition of “family” was not changed in other leave statutes including the California Family Rights Act (CFRA).
NEW INDUSTRY SPECIFIC CALIFORNIA LABOR LAWS
Farm Labor Contracts: SB 168 sets out regulations that mean a new contractor who takes over a contract is liable for wages and penalties owed to the previous contractor if they meet at least two of the criteria as set in the law. You can see these specifics at the link above.
Garment Manufacturers: AB 1384 States all licensed garment manufacturers are now subject to civil penalties unless the clearly post their company name, physical address and registration number at the entrance to their business.
Car Washing Businesses: AB 1387 the new law has upped the required bond held by the business from $15,000 up to $150,000. There is however an exemption for any employer who has a collective bargaining agreement providing for all wages, hours of work, conditions and “an expeditious process to resolve disputes concerning nonpayment of wages.”
Does this affect you and you paycheck? Make sure your employer is compliant with new California Labor Codes and protect your rights at work. Please contact us if you have questions as to whether or not a new law affects you.