California Legislative Update: Employment-Related Bills Signed and Vetoed by Governor
Topics: New Laws & Legislation
As previously reported, September 30 was the last day for Governor Brown to sign or veto bills passed by the California legislature this session. Here is the final report on bills that were signed into law and vetoed:
SB 654 (Expanded Parental Leave Rights): This bill would have required an employer having 20 or more employees within 75 miles of a requesting employee’s worksite to provide the employee up to 6 weeks of leave to bond with a new child, if the employee has at least 12 months of service and has worked at least 1250 hours in the 12 months preceding the request for leave. The employe would be entitled to use accrued paid time off during the leave and the employer would be required to continue group health benefits during the leave. The employee would be entitled to an upfront guarantee of reinstatement to the same or comparable position. This leave would have been on top of the four months of pregnancy disability leave California employers are required to provide to employees disabled because of pregancy, but would not have been on top of any FMLA/CFRA leave entitlements.
Signed Into Law:
AB 1066 (Overtime Pay and Meal and Rest Periods for Agricultural Workers): This bill will eliminate the present exemption from meal and rest break and day of rest requirements for agricultural workers, and will also phase in overtime compensation requirements for these workers over the next several years. For employers with more than 25 employees, agricultural workers will have to be paid time and one-half for hours worked in excess of 9.5 hours per day and/or 55 hours per week, starting January 1, 2019. Starting January 1, 2020, the time and one-half obligation kicks in for all hours worked in excess of 9 hours per day or 50 hours per week. Starting January 1, 2021, the time and one-half obligation kicks in for all hours worked in excess of 8.5 hours per day or 45 hours per week, and starting January 1, 2022, time and one-half will be owed for all hours worked in excess of 8 per day or 40 per week. For employers with 25 or fewer employees, the overtime phase-in schedule does not start until January 1, 2022.
SB 1241 (Choice of Forum/Choice of Law Provisions): This bill adds section 925 to the Labor Code and will apply to contracts between employers and employees that are entered into, modified, or extended on or after January 1, 2017. This new law prohibits employees who primarily reside and work in California from being required, as a condition of employment, to agree to a forum outside California for adjudication of disputes. It also prohibits these employees from being required to agree to a choice of law provision stating that the laws of a state other than California will govern a dispute between the employer and the employee, if the choice of law provision would deny the employee a substantive protection of California law (e.g. a state law that permits non-compete agreements whereas California law generally does not). This law applies to both court and arbitral forums for resolution of disputes. Any contractual provision that is contrary to the new law is voidable by the employee, and the employee is entitled to recover attorneys' fees incurred to enforce his or her rights under the new law. These choice of forum/choice of law prohibitions would not apply to a contract negotiated between an employer and an employee where the employee was represented by legal counsel in negotiating the agreement.
AB 1676 (Equal Pay Act Amendment): This bill amends California’s Equal Pay Act, which makes it unlawful to pay employees of one gender less than similarly situated employees of the opposite gender, to expressly provide that prior salary alone is not alone a sufficient justification for a pay disparity.
AB 1843 (Juvenile Convictions): This bill amends California Labor Code section 432.7 to prohibit employers from inquiring about, or from utilizing as a factor in determining any condition of employment, information relating to convictions, arrests, or similar actions under the jurisdiction of a juvenile court.
AB 2899 (Labor Commissioner Proceedings): This bill amends Labor Code 1197.1 to provide that an employer wishing to appeal (by writ of mandate) a citation issued by the Labor Commissioner for payment of less than minimum wage must first post a bond with the Labor Commissioner covering the amount of unpaid wages found to have been owed.
SB 1001 (Remedy for Unlawful Verification of Right to Work): This bill adds section 1019.1 to the Labor Code and makes it an unlawful employment practice for an employer, in the course of verifying an applicant’s authorization to work, to (1) request more or different documents than are required under federal law; (2) refuse to honor documents tendered that on their face appear to be reasonably genuine; (3) refuse to honor documents or work authorization based upon the specific status or term of status that accompanies the authorization to work; or (4) attempt to reinvestigate or reverify an incumbent employee’s authorization to work using an unfair immigration-related practice. An applicant or employee subject to a violation of this law is entitled to file a complaint with the Department of Labor Standards Enforcement and recover a penalty of $10,000 per violation.
AB 2337 (Notice to Employees of Rights Concerning Domestic Violence/Stalking): Existing California law provides employees who are victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and/or stalking the right to take time off from work in specified circumstances. This bill will now require employers to give new employees written notice of these rights upon hire and to provide notice to current employees upon request. The bill also requires the Labor Commissioner, by July 1, 2017, to prepare a form notice for employers to use to satisfy the requirements of this new law. Employers are not required to comply with the notice requirements until the Labor Commissioner’s notice form is posted on its website.
SB 1063 (Equal Pay – Race and Ethnicity): This bill expands California’s equal pay law, which currently prohibits wage differentials based on gender, to prohibit employers from paying employees of one race or ethnicity less than similarly situated employees of a different race or ethnicity.
SB 1167 (Heat Illness Prevention for Indoor Workers): This bill requires Cal-OSHA, by January 1, 2019, to propose standards for heat illness prevention for indoor workers, similar to those currently in place for outdoor workers.
AB 2535 (Wage Statements): This bill clarifies the requirements of California wage statement law to make clear that wage statements need not include hours worked data for employees who are exempt and not paid based on hours worked.
New laws take effect January 1, 2017 unless otherwise noted. We will be discussing these new laws, and other employment-law developments in 2016, at our annual "new laws" webinar on November 30, 2016 from 10:00-11:30 a.m. PDT. Please stay tuned for registration information. For the text of the bills listed above, click here.