California’s Fall Legislation Report: A Rundown of the Most Significant New Employment Laws

By Christopher W. Olmsted © Ogletree Deakins October 19, 2016
California’s Fall Legislation Report: A Rundown of the Most Significant New Employment Laws

The California legislature and governor showed no signs of slowing down this year and enacted a long list of new employment laws. Below is a list of the most significant laws affecting private-sector employers.

ABX2-7 amends California Labor Code Section 6404.5 by expanding prohibitions against smoking in the workplace. The expansion covers owner-operated businesses, even where the owner is the only worker present. It also bans smoking in hotel lobbies and meeting rooms, warehouses, bars and employee break rooms.

AB 908 amends Paid Family Leave (i.e., California's family leave benefits program) by eliminating the seven-day waiting period, among other changes. These changes will take effect in 2018.

AB 1066 eliminates the overtime exemption available for agricultural workers. This change will be implemented over a four-year period, from 2019 to 2022.

AB 1311 amends California Labor Code Section 201.3, which requires weekly pay for temporary workers, by expanding the statute to cover temporary security guards who are employed by a private patrol operator and requiring that they be paid not later than on the payday of the following workweek.

AB 1661 requires all paid local government agency officials to receive sexual harassment prevention training and education.

AB 1676 amends the California Fair Pay Act to provide that prior salary cannot, by itself, be a "bona fide factor other than sex" justifying a pay disparity between employees of opposite genders.

AB 1843 amends California Labor Code Section 432.7 relating to permissible inquiries about job applicants' criminal histories. The law will now prohibit an employer from asking an applicant about or considering any juvenile court matter.

AB 2230 requires private primary and secondary schools to pay exempt teachers no less than "the lowest salary offered by any school district or the equivalent of no less than 70% of the lowest schedule salary offered by the school district or county in which the private elementary or secondary institution is located."

AB 2337 amends California Labor Code Section 230.1 relating to protections of employees who are victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and/or stalking. The amended law requires employers to inform each employee of his or her rights established under the law by providing specific information in writing to new employees upon hire and to other employees upon request. Employers will not be required to distribute this information until the labor commissioner publishes the form employers will be able to use to comply with the law.

AB 2535 amends California Labor Code Section 226, which specifies information to be included on an employee's itemized wage statement (pay stub). Currently the requirement does not apply to certain salaried, exempt employees. The amendment clarifies that employers need not display total hours worked during the pay period for exempt employees who are paid by means other than salary, including outside salespersons and computer professionals. 

AB 2899 amends Labor Code 1197.1. Under the revised law, if an employer appeals an administrative law determination of a claim that was initiated by the labor commissioner to a superior court, the employer must post a bond in an amount equal to the unpaid wages assessed under the citation, excluding penalties.

SB 3 increases the statewide minimum wage to $15 per hour in increments over the course of 5 years—from January of 2017 to January of 2022—with cost of living increases scheduled annually thereafter. Businesses with 25 or fewer employees will receive a one year delay on the increases. 

SB 1001 adds Section 1019.1, which protects individuals from discrimination based on lawful immigration status, to the California Labor Code. The new section makes it unlawful for an employer "to request more or different documents than are required under federal law, to refuse to honor documents tendered that on their face reasonably appear to be genuine, to refuse to honor documents or work authorization based upon the specific status or term of status that accompanies the authorization to work, or to reinvestigate or reverify an incumbent employee's authorization to work."

SB 1015 repeals the sunset clause contained in the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, which was set to expire on January 1, 2017. The law regulates the hours of work and overtime rights of domestic work employees.

SB 1063 amends the California Fair Pay Act, which prohibits gender pay disparities. The amended law also prohibits wage differentials based on race or ethnicity.

SB 1167 requires the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) to develop indoor heat illness prevention standards.

SB 1234 mandates that all resident employees enroll in a state-run retirement savings plan, unless their employer already provides a qualified retirement plan. Employees will have the right to opt out.

SB 1241 adds Section 925 to the California Labor Code. The new law provides that, for employment contracts entered into, modified, or extended on or after January 1, 2017, an employer is prohibited from requiring an employee who primarily resides and works in California, as a condition of employment, to agree to a provision that would require him or her to sue in the court of another state or deprive him or her of the protection of California law with respect to a controversy arising in California.

SB 836 amends the Private Attorneys General Act of 2004 (PAGA). The amendments give the California Labor and Workforce Development Agency (1) more time to investigate and issue citations for California Labor Code violations; (2) more oversight over PAGA actions; (3) an opportunity to object to proposed PAGA settlements as insufficient; and (4) more funds to investigate and issue citations for California Labor Code violations (due to the new filing fee requirement).

SB 1732 requires, commencing March 1, 2017, "all single-user toilet facilities in any business establishment, place of public accommodation, or government agency to be identified as all-gender toilet facilities."

Christopher W. Olmsted is an attorney with Ogletree Deakins in San Diego. © Ogletree Deakins. All rights reserved. Reposted with permission.


Hire the best HR talent or advance your own career.

Break California’s intricate labor code.

Successfully interpret and apply California employment law to your organization’s people practices.

Successfully interpret and apply California employment law to your organization’s people practices.



HR Daily Newsletter

News, trends and analysis, as well as breaking news alerts, to help HR professionals do their jobs better each business day.