California Update

SHRM-Backed Veterans’ Preference, Other Workplace Bills Advance in Sacramento

Jun 12, 2015
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June 5 marked the deadline for bills to pass out of their house of origin in the California legislature. One significant piece of legislation, AB 1383, sponsored by the California State Council of SHRM (CalSHRM), would allow a California employer to establish a voluntary preference in the hiring or retention of veterans. This bill was approved on the Assembly floor by a unanimous, bipartisan vote of 77-0.

The proposal, which is authored by Assembly Member Brian Jones (R-Santee, second from left with members of the CalSHRM leadership team), now moves on to the Senate and will be heard in the Senate Labor & Industrial Relations Committee later this month.

A number of other bills that CalSHRM and SHRM are following also passed out of their house of origin and will be heard in policy committees in the near future. These include the following:

  • SB 406 would expand the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) and redefine “employer” to include any entity employing 25 or more persons, instead of the current 50 employees. CalSHRM and SHRM are opposed to this bill and will continue to work with stakeholders throughout the legislative process.
  • SB 358 would prohibit an employer from paying any of its employees at wage rates less than rates paid to employees of the opposite sex for substantially similar work, when viewed as a composite of skill, effort and responsibility and when performed under similar working conditions.
  • AB 1017 would prohibit an employer from seeking salary history information from an applicant for employment and from releasing the salary history of any current or former employee without written authorization from the current or former employee.
  • AB 622 would prohibit an employer from using the E-Verify system to check the employment authorization status of an existing employee or an applicant who has not received an offer of employment, except as required by federal law or as a condition of receiving federal funds.

A few workplace bills were not as fortunate as those above and failed to make it out of their house of origin. These include the following:

  • AB 357, the Fair Scheduling Act of 2015, would have required a food and general retail establishment to provide employees with at least two weeks’ notice of their work schedules. Realizing that he did not have enough votes because of strong opposition from the business community, the author of the bill decided not to have the bill heard on the Assembly floor.
  • AB 67, the Double Pay on the Holiday Act of 2015, was actually heard on the Assembly floor, but it did not receive enough votes to pass. This bill would have required an employer to pay at least two times the regular rate of pay to an employee for work on Thanksgiving. The original bill also included double pay for work on Christmas, but the author amended that holiday out of the bill in an attempt to garner more support. The business community also strongly opposed this measure and persuaded enough moderate Democrats to vote against the bill.

Finally, AB 304, a bill that seeks to clarify a few employer requirements in last year’s paid sick leave law (AB 1522), is still pending before the Assembly; however, because of an “urgency clause” recently added to the bill, the house of origin deadline does not apply. Bills containing an urgency clause become effective immediately upon the governor signing the bill into law. Additionally, a two-thirds vote is required for passage once an urgency clause is added.

The author of AB 304, Assembly Member Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego), who also authored the paid sick leave law, is attempting to get the bill out of the legislature and signed by Governor Brown prior to July 1 of this year, which is the effective date of AB 1522. In an effort to keep our members informed of all the current and potentially new requirements employers must comply with under the paid sick leave law, SHRM, in collaboration with CalSHRM, will host a free webinar for all members on July 16 at 1:00 p.m. PST. For more information and to register for this webinar, please click HERE.

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