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California Labor Laws 2018: Update

Posted by Leslie Ruhland on Nov 6, 2018 8:05:00 AM
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Several labor laws were signed by Governor Jerry Brown at the end of the 2018 California legislative session. These will have a fiscal and policy impact on businesses and employers in California.

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Of the many bills that went to the governor this year, a significant number of them will directly affect California employers, managers and employees. Staying informed of the new laws is a recurring task for HR managers and business owners, as is making changes in company policies and procedures as a result of compliance.

We reviewed a number of new laws last month and present two more in this post.

Labor Law Update: AB 1976 - Lactation Accommodation

Governor Jerry Brown vetoed SB 937 (Weiner), a measure modeled on the San Francisco lactation accommodation statute that would have expanded significantly existing requirements regarding lactation rooms and break periods.

However, the governor did sign AB 1976 (Limόn) into law on September 30. This bill makes several changes to existing law and requires an employer to make reasonable efforts to provide an employee wishing to express breast milk in private with an area near her work space and that is not a bathroom.

The Senate amendments to this bill also makes special accommodation for agricultural employers. An “agricultural employer” is defined in Labor Code Section 1140.4 as “one engaged in agriculture.”

Even though providing lactation space in the fields can present logistical challenges, AB 1976 provides that agricultural employers will be following the requirements if they provide a private, enclosed and shaded space for an employee wishing to express breast milk. The bill does, however, remove the requirement that the temporary lactation accommodation space be air-conditioned.

Other Senate amendments to the bill allow employers who can demonstrate to the California Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) that the lactation room requirement would represent an undue hardship when considered in relation to the size, structure or nature of their business, employers must instead make reasonable efforts to provide the employee with a room, other than a toilet stall but not necessarily other than a bathroom.

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Currently, California law requires employers to provide a reasonable amount of break time to accommodate an employee desiring to express breast milk for the employee’s infant child.

In addition, the existing law requires the employer to make reasonable efforts to provide the employee with the use of a room or other location, other than a toilet stall, that is near that employee’s work area so that the employee can express milk in private.

The bill removes the phrase “toilet stall” and replaces it with the term “bathroom” requiring an employer to make reasonable efforts to provide an employee with the use of a room or other location, other than a bathroom, that is near the employee’s work area for the employee to express milk in private.

The bill requires all four of the following conditions are to be met for an employer to be considered as following this provision of law:

  • The employer is unable to provide a permanent lactation location because of operational, financial, or space limitations.
  • The temporary lactation location is private and free from intrusion while an employee expresses milk.
  • The temporary lactation location is used only for lactation purposes while an employee expresses milk.
  • The temporary lactation location otherwise meets the requirements of state law concerning lactation accommodation.

AB 1976 goes into effect on January 1, 2019 so California employers should review their existing practices to ensure their lactation accommodation is in accord with the requirements of the new law. For some employers, this may mean making physical changes to their workplace in order to comply with the new requirements.

Compliance is mandatory as the existing law makes a violation of these provisions subject to a civil penalty enforced by the Labor Commissioner.

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Labor Law Update: AB 3109 - Limits on Contract Waivers

On September 30, 2018 Governor Jerry Brown signed AB 3109 into law. The bill, sponsored by Assembly member Mark Stone (D-Scotts Valley), adds a section to the Civil Code which becomes effective on January 1, 2019. The new section renders any provision in a contract or settlement agreement that prevents a person from testifying in a judicial, administrative or legislative proceeding in response to a court order, subpoena or official request about alleged criminal conduct or sexual harassment as unenforceable.

According to a post at FisherPhillips.com,

“Assembly Bill 3109 (Stone) was inspired by the recent well-publicized case of Olympic gymnast McKayla Maroney. According to media reports, Maroney’s settlement agreement with USA Gymnastics subjected her to a $100,000 fine for testifying in a criminal trial against the team doctor that was alleged to have sexually abused her and many other gymnasts.”

AB 3109 adds Section 1670.11 to the Civil Code and states that:

“Notwithstanding any other law, a provision in a contract or settlement agreement entered into on or after January 1, 2019, that waives a party’s right to testify in an administrative, legislative, or judicial proceeding concerning alleged criminal conduct or alleged sexual harassment on the part of the other party to the contract or settlement agreement, or on the part of the agents or employees of the other party, when the party has been required or requested to attend the proceeding pursuant to a court order, subpoena, or written request from an administrative agency or the legislature, is void and unenforceable.”

There were several other bills introduced in the 2018 California Legislative Session that attempted to limit or prevent the use of secret settlements while still allowing their appropriate use in certain circumstances. The Senate Floor Analysis noted that AB 3109,

“… permits non-disclosure agreements so long as the parties are always able to speak as to the matters covered by the settlement if they are ordered or asked to do so in some official context: judicial, administrative, or legislative.”

HR Compliance Best Practices for California Labor Law

Employers and managers should already be taking steps to ensure compliance as the new labor laws that were signed will take effect on January 1, 2019.

Outsourcing HR functions is an increasingly common strategy for small businesses and the advantages are worth asking about. In addition to reducing your in-house costs, increasing accuracy and security, you can also benefit by freeing your HR resources for improving operational functions, recruiting efforts, and training.

Reliability, full-service options, and reputation are the hallmarks of a quality HR management service provider. If you are currently looking to invest in outsourcing you get your Free Download: California Labor Law guide to help you make an informed decision or call Accuchex Payroll Management Services at 877-422-2824.

free 2018 california labor law guide

Topics: california labor laws, labor law compliance, sexual harassment, employee lawsuits, HR compliance

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