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An Employee’s Guide to New California Employment Laws (2017)

California Employee Law GuidelinesWith all of the holiday cheer, family time, and vacations this season, it is easy to miss all of the new laws going into effect in 2017. We’ve decided to highlight a few of the laws that we feel may be the most relevant to you, the employee, to better help prepare you for the new year! Each change we describe below also includes a link to the complete bill with additional details that we may not have covered in this article.

Minimum Wage

It is best to kick off the new year on a high note! It will be a great start for many as workers in California see minimum wage increases. The minimum wage for companies of 26 or more employees will increase to $10.50 an hour starting January 1, 2017. Different municipalities may see different changes so you should be mindful of local minimum wage ordinances.

AB 2535 (read more) – Itemized Wage Statements (Effective January 1, 2017)

If you are an exempt employee, your employer will not need to include in itemized wage statements the total number of working hours.

Employers must continue to include the total hours worked by non-exempt employees in the itemized wage statements for each pay period.

SB 1001 (read more) – Immigration Related Unfair Practices (Effective January 1, 2017)

Currently, the law prohibits your employer from requesting more or different documents than are required under federal law, or “refusing to honor documents tendered that on their face reasonably appear to be genuine”.  Under this Bill, which adds Labor Code Section 1019.1, applicants and employees may file a complaint with the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement. Any person who is deemed in violation of this new law is subject to a penalty imposed by the Labor Commissioner of up to $10,000, among other relief available.

AB 2068 (read more) – Talent Services (Effective January 1, 2017)

This particular change is specific to talent services within the entertainment industry. Seeing as we are located in California, this may be applicable to many of you readers. Currently, talent agencies must remove information about an individual artist, including but not limited to an artist’s photograph and other personal information within 10 days of a telephone, facsimile transmission, or email request made by the artist or artist’s legal guardian. This bill expands the above-described notice requirement to requests made by text message or other electronic communications.

AB 1843 (read more) – Criminal History in Applications for Employment (Effective January 1, 2017)

In addition to existing laws that proscribe what an employer can or cannot ask applicants about their criminal history, this Bill prohibits employers from asking applicants to disclose, or from utilizing as a factor in determining any condition of employment, information concerning or related to “an arrest, detention, process, diversion, supervision, adjudication, or court disposition that occurred while the person was subject to the process and jurisdiction of juvenile court law.” There are, however, exceptions for certain health facilities.

AB 1676 & SB 1063 – Wage Discrimination and Application to Race and Ethnicity (Effective January 1, 2017)

Under the Fair Pay Act, which went into effect on January 1, 2016, employers are generally prohibited from paying an employee at wage rates less than the rates paid to employees of the opposite sex in the same establishment for equal work on jobs the performance of which requires equal skill, effort, and responsibility, and which are performed under similar working conditions. The Fair Pay Act provides for exceptions such as, the wage differential is based upon one or more of the following factors: (a) a seniority system; (b) a merit system; (c) a system that measures earnings by quantity or quality of production; (d) a bona fide factor other than sex, such as education, training, or experience.

AB 1676 amends the Fair Pay Act (Labor Code Section 1197.5) to provide that an employee’s prior salary cannot, by itself, justify any disparity in compensation under the bona fide factors above.

SB 1063 amends Labor Code Sections 1197.5 and 1199.5 and expands the requirements of the Fair Pay Act to include employees’ race or ethnicity, and not just gender.

AB 1732 (read more) – Single-User Restrooms (Effective March 1, 2017)

With all of the news surrounding this topic, we thought this new bill may be of interest to many of you. Effective March 1, 2017, all single-user toilet facilities in any business establishment, place of public accommodation, or government agency is to be identified as all-gender toilet facilities. Existing laws only specifies there to be a sufficient number of temporary or permanent toilet facilities to meet the needs of the public and employees at peak hours. This bill also authorizes inspectors, building officials, or other local officials responsible for code enforcement to inspect for compliance with these provisions during any inspection.

AB 2337 (read more) – Employment Protections for Victims of Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault, or Stalking (Effective July 1, 2017)

Your employer (with 25 or more employees) will now have to provide specific information in writing to new employees upon hire, and to other employees upon request, of their rights to take leave under Labor Code Section 230.1 (relating to victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking).

Looking Ahead

AB 908 (read more) – Paid Family Leave (Effective January 1, 2018)

If you foresee the need to take time off in order to care for a seriously ill child, parent, parent-in-law, other family member, or even to bond with a new child entering the family by birth, adoption, or foster care placement, this bill makes a few changes to Paid Family Leave (PFL). There will be a “weekly benefit amount minimum of $50 and increase [to] the wage replacement rate to specified percentages” for “periods of disability commencing after January 1, 2018, but before January 1, 2022.” The current seven day waiting period for PFL benefits will also be removed.

AB 2687 (read more) – Driving Under the Influence (Effective July 1, 2018)

With more and more people utilizing ride-sharing services such as Uber and Lyft (whether as a passenger or as a driver), this particular bill is noteworthy. “Currently the BAC is already 0.04% for drivers of commercial vehicles.” The current bill extends this lower allowed BAC “to drive a motor vehicle when a passenger for hire is a passenger in the vehicle at the time of the offense.” Safer rides for everyone!

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