New Law 2018 – Parental Leave Requirement Expanded to Smaller Employers

If your business employees 20 to 49 employees, you must prepare for a significant change that many small businesses deem a significant burden – job-protected parental leave.  On October 12, 2017, Governor Brown approved SB 63, which expands the leave requirements of the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) to employers who employ at least 20 employees within a 75 miles (down from the threshold of 50 employees).  If your company does not have a parental leave policy, or has one that does not meet the requirements of the new law, the next couple of months is the perfect time to create one, updated your employee handbook, and establish a contingency plan on how you will cover for employees who may take anywhere between 3 to 7 months of leave. Here is a short outline of the new Government Code Section 12945.6’s requirements: Employers with at least 20 employees within 75 miles of the worksite must now do the following: 1. Provide up to 12 weeks of parental leave to an employee who has worked for the employer for more than 12 … Continue reading

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New Law 2018 –Immigration Enforcement

Immigration was a hot topic this year and starting January 1, 2018, employers will see increased obligations as they relate to employees’ immigration status.  Earlier this month, Governor Brown signed AB 450 into law. Beginning January 1, 2018, employers will have the following obligations as they relate to immigration enforcement agents and the workplace: 1. No access without a warrant: Employers, and others acting on their behalf, may not voluntarily consent to immigration enforcement agents entering nonpublic areas of a place of labor without a warrant. For example, if you own a restaurant, immigration enforcement agents are free to enter the dining room but may not enter the kitchen or back office without a warrant permitting them to do so. Penalties for violating this requirement are $2,000 to $5,000 for the first violating incident and $5,000 to $10,000 for each subsequent violation. 2. No inspection of records without warrant or subpoena: Employers, and others acting on their behalf, may not voluntarily provide immigration enforcement agents the ability to access, review, or obtain the employer’s employee records without a subpoena or … Continue reading

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New Law 2018 – Pay Privacy

“What did you make at your last job?” will be an illegal question when asked of a job candidate in 2018.  California’s Governor Jerry Brown signed AB-168, the salary privacy bill, into law on October 12, 2017.  The law goes into effect on January 1, 2018, and applies to all California employers regardless of size and whether they are in the private or public sector. There are three main parts to the new Section 432.3 of the California Labor Code: An employer shall not rely on an applicant’s salary history as a factor in determining whether to offer employment to an applicant or what salary to offer an applicant. An employer shall not, in any way, either directly or indirectly through third parties, seek an applicant’s salary history information (compensation and benefits). An employer, upon reasonable request, shall provide the pay scale for a position to an applicant applying for employment. However, employment applicants may voluntarily disclose their prior salary history (without prompting), in which case, the employer may use the voluntarily provided salary history in determining that applicant’s salary.  … Continue reading

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California Minimum Wage Increase 2017

The new year brings many things and one of those is a new minimum wage. Effective January 1, 2017, new minimum wage requirements go into effect at the local and state level. The minimum wage is the lowest rate per hour that an employer may pay a non-exempt employee.   However, since the salary test for exempt employees requires that they make at least twice the minimum wage for full-time employment, changes in the minimum wage will affect the minimum salary that you pay your exempt employees as well. Determining what you need to pay workers depends on: How many employees you have; and Where they work. If there is a conflict between the state, county, and/or local minimum wage rate, follow the stricter standard (i.e. the one that is most beneficial to employees). Below is a non-exhaustive chart of the effective minimum wage rates effective as of the date of this post. Location Employers with 26 or More Employees Employers with 25 or Less Employees State of California $10.50 $10.00 City of Los Angeles $10.50 (until July 1, 2017) $10.00 … Continue reading

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Support Animal as a Reasonable Accommodation

New regulations related to the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) went into effect on April 1, 2016. Among the various additions, which touch on a broad range of discrimination issues in employment, is a discussion about support animals as a reasonable accommodation in the workplace. As a servant to my 3 dogs and lawyer who has worked on dog bite cases, this was of particular interest to me. The new regulations specifically discuss assistive and support animals in the area of disability accommodation and provides that an assistive animal, including support animals, may constitute a reasonable accommodation in certain circumstances. What is an “Assistive Animal”? According to the new regulations, an “assistive animal” is defined as an animal that is necessary as a reasonable accommodation. These include: guide dogs for the visually impaired, signal dogs for the hearing impaired, and trained service dogs that meet the requirements of the Civil Code related to training and licensing. Additionally, a “support dog” or other animal that provides emotional, cognitive, or other similar support to a person with a disability, including, but … Continue reading

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New Overtime Rules Under FLSA Approved – What You Need to Know

The Department of Labor recently approved changes to the overtime rules under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) that will have a significant impact on California employers and workers. According to the Department of Labor, the new rules will affect over 300,000 California workers who will either be entitled to overtime pay or receive raises to maintain their exempt employee status. Here are some answers to commonly asked questions about the new rules. Who is affected by the new rules? Employees who are exempt from minimum wage and overtime pay protections under the executive, administrative, and professional (EAP) exemption and the highly-compensated employee (HCE) exemption of the FLSA. (Learn about exempt vs non-exempt employees.) The FLSA covers a majority of workers. Details on who is covered by the FLSA are available from the Department of Labor. What are the changes made by the final rule? In addition to meeting the duties test, in order to meet the EAP exemption requirement, the employee must receive a salary of at least $913 per week or $47,476 annually. HCEs must receive $134,004 annually … Continue reading

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New Proposed Overtime Rules – Potential Effects on California Employers

There has been much discussion about the Department of Labor (DOL)’s proposed changes to federal overtime rules under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). California employers may have mostly ignored the federal overtime rules because California’s rules are more protective of employees and have a higher threshold for overtime exemptions. However, if these rules go into effect, California employers will have to make some adjustments. Failure to properly classify employees as exempt vs non-exempt and follow overtime rules could be costly for employers. What Are the Proposed Changes to Federal Overtime Rules? Under FLSA regulations, an employee is exempt from the right to overtime pay if s/he meets the following 3 requirements: Paid on a salary basis regardless of the number of hours worked; Receives a salary of at lease $455/week or $23,660/year; and Satisfies the duties tests for exempt employees (executive, administration, professional, computer, and outside sales regulations). The DOL proposed increasing the salary threshold from $455 per week to $970 per week ($50,440) annually. The salary threshold for the highly-compensated employee exemption would increase from $100,000 to $122,148 per … Continue reading

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Tip Pooling Distribution Restrictions Upheld by Ninth Circuit

Tip pooling is a common practice in the restaurant industry but the legal back and forth of how much and to whom the pooled tips could be distributed has lead to much confusion within the food services industry. Restaurants May Not Require Wait Staff to Share Pooled Tips With Back of House Staff Last month, in the case of Oregon Restaurant and Lodging Association et al. v. Perez et al., the Ninth Circuit upheld the Department of Labor’s rule barring employers from collecting tips given to waiters or other service employees and distributing to back of house staff not in the chain of service (i.e. cooks and dishwashers). Since California is within the Ninth Circuit’s jurisdiction, the Court’s decision in this case will lead to increased litigation against restaurants for unpaid wages.  Highly successful restaurants have closed their doors as a result of these wage and hour claims. PRACTICAL TIP: Enterprises with tip pooling practices should have a written tip pooling policy that specifically outlines how tips are pooled and shared. Such written policies should clearly state that pooled tips will not be … Continue reading

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California Aggressively Fights Wage Theft

Senate Bill (S.B.) 588 that went into effect on January 1, 2016, seeks to ensure recovery of unpaid wages by victims of wage theft. What is Wage Theft? Wage theft is defined as failing to pay workers for all of their work, regardless of whether it is intentional or merely an honest mistake. This includes paying below minimum wage, failing to pay overtime, violating meal and rest break requirements, and failing to pay for off-the-clock work. New Penalties for Wage Theft If an employee brings a successful wage claim against your company, the Labor Commissioner can now place a lien on the company’s property or levy on the business’ bank accounts and/or accounts receivable, including a lien or levy to recover the employee’s attorneys’ fees. SB 588 prevents a company from closing down its business and re-opening under a new name in order to avoid their debts to workers. Owners and anyone else acting “on behalf of” the employer are now individually liable for wage and hour violations. This means that the Labor Commissioner can now seize the personal property and bank accounts … Continue reading

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New California Law on Equal Pay

The new California law on equal pay between the sexes (SB 358) goes into effect January 1, 2016, and is considered the most aggressive equal pay law in the nation. The new law will create a much stricter standard for gender pay equity. California employers will want to begin preparing immediately for its impact. The Law Requires Equal Pay for Equal Work The new law will amend California’s Equal Pay Act to prohibit an employer from paying employees of one sex lower than employees of the opposite sex for “substantially similar work, when viewed as a composite of skill, effort, and responsibility, and performed under similar working conditions.” Limited Exceptions Available to Employers  If a wage differential exists, employers will escape liability only if they can show that the wage differential is based on: a seniority system; a merit system; a system that measures earnings by quality or quantity of production; or some other bona fide factor other than sex such as education, training, or experience. Should an employer attempt to justify a pay differential under this law as a bona fide … Continue reading

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