The current legislative session is now at a close. Governor Brown has approved or vetoed the bills sent from the legislature. Unfortunately for employers, this year was fairly active for labor and employment laws. Below is a partial list, not exhaustive, of the biggest developments from this year’s new laws. Unless otherwise noted, these laws become effective January 1, 2018:
AB 168 – Salary History Restriction
It will now be unlawful in California for any employer, including state and local governments, to ask applicants about their prior salary, compensation, and benefits. An employer may only consider prior salary information the applicant voluntarily, and without prompting, discloses, in determining compensation levels. Please recall, however, that relying solely on an applicant’s salary history is already prohibited as a justification for a potential compensation discrepancy.
Further, upon reasonable request, this new law also requires employers to provide applicants with the pay scale for the position they are seeking.
SB 63 – New Parent Leave Act
California now extends parental leave rights to employers with at least twenty (20) employees (within a 75 mile radius). This law used to apply only to employers with at least fifty employees. Now even smaller employers are prohibited from refusing to allow employees—with more than 12 months and at least 1,250 hours of service—to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid parental leave to bond with a new child within one year of the child’s birth, adoption, or foster care placement. An employer that employs both parents who qualify for such leave for the same child does need not provide more than 12 weeks of leave total to the two employees (which leave may be granted simultaneously, if the employer chooses).
In addition, an employer can attempt to recover the costs of maintaining the health plan for employees who do not to return to work after their leave ends, because of a reason other than a serious health condition or other circumstances beyond the employee’s control.
AB 1008 – Prior Conviction History
This law creates a new protected classification under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act. Employers are now banned from denying employment based solely on an applicant’s criminal history, unless, given the circumstances, an employer can justify relying on that conviction to deny employment.
Further, it is unlawful for an employer to include questions seeking disclosure of an applicant’s criminal history on any employment application, inquire or consider the conviction history of an applicant before extending a conditional offer employment, or consider or distribute specified criminal history information in conducting a conviction history background check. If an employer intends to deny a position, even in part, because of the applicant’s prior conviction, the employer must (1) make an individualized assessment of whether the applicant’s conviction history has a direct and adverse relationship with the duties of the job, (2) consider certain topics, and (3) allow the applicant to dispute the accuracy of the conviction history.
SB 396 – Additions To Harassment Training
California employers with 50 or more employees now need to add items to the already mandated supervisor training to prevent sexual harassment. The new content must include practical examples to address harassment based on gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation. Employers must also post a DFEH-developed poster regarding transgender rights.
In addition to these new laws, there are several more covering topics like immigration restriction and labor commissioner authority that will likely impact most employers’ practices. Please do not hesitate to contact me or another attorney in our Employment Law Practice Group for a more detailed discussion of how these new laws may affect your business.
Trevor D. Large
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