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California employers tend to be a very aware and engaged community. After all, they need to be in a state as large, complex and highly regulated as California. Most employers in the state are likely very aware of the state’s requirements of meal and rest breaks, overtime, and final pay under California law. What many California employers do not know about are the many more obscure requirements under the California Labor Code. And regardless of how small or incidental, every rule can lead to a violation.
What are some of the more obscure and less widely understood employer rules hiding in the California Labor Code? Here are just a few:
Labor Code Section 203.1 (30 Day Waiting Time Penalty for Bounced Checks): Employers who pay with checks returned for insufficient funds are subject to a maximum 30-day penalty. The penalty is set at the rate of pay the worker was receiving when the check bounced. The penalty is excused if the employer can demonstrate that the violation was unintentional.
Labor Code Section 213(d) (Bank Account Deposit of Wages): Employers may pay wages by direct deposit if voluntarily authorized by the employee. An employer cannot require that the employee accept payment via direct deposit.
Labor Code Section 221 (Collection of Wages Paid by Employer): Employers may not collect or receive any part of wages previously paid.
Labor Code Section 222.5 (Employers Must Pay for Medical or Physical Examinations): Employers may not require current or prospective employees to pay for medical or physical examinations required for employment or required by federal, state or local law.
Labor Code Section 230.3 (Serving on Emergency Duty): Employers may not discriminate against employees who take time off to perform emergency duties as a volunteer firefighter, reserve peace officer, or emergency rescue personnel.
Labor Code Section 230.8 (School Visits Permitted): Employers who employ more than 25 or more employees at the same location may not discriminate against employees for taking off up to forty hours each year (not to exceed eight hours per month) to participate in activities at their child’s K to 12th grade school or licensed child day care facility.
Labor Code Section 232 (Disclosure of Wage information): Employers may not require an employee to refrain from disclosing the amount of his or her wages.
Labor Code Section 233 (Use of Sick Leave to Attend to Illness of Child or Parent): An employee may use up to half of his or her accrued sick leave under the employer’s policy to attend to an illness of a child, parents, spouse, or domestic partner of the employee.
Labor Code Section 432 (Employee Entitled to Copy of Documents Signed): Employee is entitled to a copy upon request of any document that he or she signs relating to obtaining or holding of employment.
Labor Code Section 432.2 (Polygraph/Truth Tests): No employer may require an applicant or employee to submit to a polygraph or other similar test as a condition of employment. Exemption for public agencies.
Labor Code Section 1041 (Employer Must Reasonably Accommodate Illiterate Employees): An employer employing 25 or more employees must reasonably accommodate and assist an employee who reveals a problem of illiteracy and requests employer assistant in enrolling in an adult literacy education program, provided that the accommodation does not impose an undue hardship on the employer.
Labor Code Section 2441 (Workplace Drinking Water): Employers must provide fresh, free and pure drinking water.
In California, it seems like there is a Labor Code section for everything (because there is). Employers should familiarize themselves with even the more obscure requirements of the state’s labor laws, because the penalties for violating the Labor Code can be significant.
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