2016 is here and January 1st has passed. That date marked the beginning of many changes in CA labor law. In the last few months of 2015 the California legislature added a number of new labor laws that will affect most, if not all, employers doing business in the state.
According to analysis done by legal and business observers, many of these new laws will impose additional regulatory requirements on employers, and - many cases - increased costs.
An Overview of New Labor Laws in California
Much of the legislation passed by the state legislature last year was relatively minor and will have negligible impact on the majority of employers in California. However, there are a number of new laws that have the potential to cost business owners and create potential issues with state agencies.
Here is an illustrated overview of the major new labor laws that were passed in late 2015:
Highlights of Major CA Labor Law Passed in 2015
Again, while not all the laws passed will directly impact every employer, there were a number of significant new laws that will affect a large number of California businesses. Here is are some of the pertinent details of these labor laws:
AB 359 Grocery Workers Must Be Given Preferential Treatment Following a "Change In Control"
- Following a change in control (a sale, transfer or other disposition) of a supermarket or other grocery establishment, the successor grocery employer will be required to maintain a preferential hiring list of eligible grocery workers composed of former employees of the selling entity.
- The successor employer shall hire from the preferential hiring list for the first 90 days after the grocery establishment is fully operational and open to the public.
- The successor employer shall retain eligible workers for at least 90 days after opening unless it determines it needs fewer workers in which case it shall retain eligible workers based upon their seniority and shall not discharge them without cause.
- After 90 days, the successor employer shall provide written performance evaluations of eligible employees and if the performance was satisfactory during the prior 90 days, the employer shall "consider offering the eligible grocery worker continued employment."
- This law shall not apply to grocery establishments located in an area designated as a "food desert" or in establishments where a collective bargaining agreement supersedes its requirements.
AB 583 Employment Protections For Members Of National Guard Expanded
- Existing law provides employment protections for members of the National Guard who have been ordered into active state or federal service.
- Currently, the member of the National Guard is entitled to be restored to his or her former position or to a position of similar seniority, status and pay without loss of retirement or other benefits unless the employer's circumstances have so changed as to make it impossible or unreasonable to do so.
- The returning member of the National Guard also shall not be discharged without cause within one year after he or she has been restored to the position.
- AB 583 extends these protections to members of the National Guard of other states who have left a position in private employment in California.
AB 1522 Sick Leave: Accrual And Limitations Language Clarified
- The new law, which is effective immediately, clarifies certain ambiguities relating to sick leave accrual and limitations in the California’s Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014 which was previously signed into law on July 13, 2015.
AB 970 Labor Commissioner’s Enforcement Capabilities Expanded To Local Jurisdictions
- Authorizes the Labor Commissioner to investigate and enforce local overtime and minimum wage laws and to issue citations and penalties for violations, except when the local entity has already cited the employer for the same violation.
- Also authorizes the Labor Commissioner to issue citations and penalties to employers who violate the expense reimbursement provisions of Labor Code Section 2802.
AB 1513 Employer Piece-Rate Compensation
- The law requires employers to pay piece-rate employees for rest and recovery periods and “other nonproductive time” at or above specified minimum hourly rates, separately from any piece-rate compensation.
- Defines “other nonproductive time” as time under the employer’s control, exclusive of rest and recovery periods, that is not directly related to the activity being compensated on a piece-rate basis.
- Employers must specify the following on a piece-rate employee’s itemized wage statement including the total hours of compensable rest and recovery periods, the rate of compensation paid for those periods, and the gross wages paid for those periods during the pay period.
Note that AB 1513 makes it virtually impossible to employ piece-rate employees without being vulnerable to wage and hour class action litigation. Employers may wish to devise new business models to address this issue.
SB 579 School Activity Leave and Sick Leave Protections Expanded
- The law provides for additional circumstances under which employees may take school activities leave. California school activities leave now includes the addressing of a child care provider emergency, a school emergency, finding, enrolling, and re-enrolling a child in a school or with a child care provider.
- Eligible employees will now include employees who are step-parents, foster parents or stand in "loco parentis" to a child.
- Requires employers to permit employees to use sick leave for the purposes specified in the Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014 and prohibits an employer from denying or retaliating against such employee for using sick leave for such purposes.
What You Need to do Regarding Labor Laws in California
There are a number of actions employers should take in light of new laws going into effect:
- Update employee handbooks and your company's policies and procedures to reflect the changes in the labor laws in California.
- Verify and finalize any updates concerning paid sick leave modifications and the basis for compensating similar positions since these can be reviewed as part of an equal pay claim.
- Advise supervisors of the new laws, their responsibility to know them, and their responsibilities for administering policies that conform with all relevant labor laws in California.
- Contact employment counsel with any questions about the new laws.
Accuchex is Here to Help California Employers and HR Managers
If you have questions regarding California labor law requirements, or other HR issues and practices, let us help you in managing your HR needs, payroll processes, and staying on top of compliance demands. Get your Free Download: Payroll Outsourcing Guide to help you make an informed decision or call Accuchex Payroll Management Services at 877-422-2824.