California Workplace Updates 2015

In August 2014, the California Legislature concluded the year via its regular sessions passing few vital bills affecting the workplace which will directly be impacting the employer-employee relation including the private sector as well. Significantly, these legislatures will come in to effect from January 1, 2015 unless otherwise notified. Few of those are briefly discussed below:-

  • Minimum Wages Violation – Numerous Bills (including AB 26, AB 1870, AB 1939, AB 2272, AB 2744, and SB 266) relating to wages have been introduced, bringing into existence the AB 1723 that authorizes the Labor Commissioner to include in this citation process any applicable penalties, namely the “waiting time” penalties for an employer’s willful failure to timely pay wages to a resigned or a discharged employee. Another Bill, the AB2074 allows an employee alleging state minimum wage violations, to recover liquidated damages in an amount equal to the wages unlawfully unpaid with interest at any time before the expiration of the statute of limitations on the underlying wage claim.
  • Mandatory Paid Sick LeaveAB 1522, the Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014, requires employers to provide paid sick leave to any employee who worked in California for 30 days at an accrual rate of one hour for every 30 hours worked. AB 1522 adds Labor Code Sections 245, 245.5, 246, 246.5, 247, 247.5, 248.5, and 249, as well as amends Section 2810.5.
  • Non-Discrimination towards undocumented person holding Driver’s License – AB 1660, that goes into effect in January will allow driver’s licenses for people, who cannot document their lawful presence in the U.S. Under this new law, it will be unlawful for an employer to discriminate on the basis of an applicant or employee’s possession of a California driver’s license.
  • Expanded Category: Time Off for Emergency Duty – AB 2536 adds new personnel to the list of employees eligible for protected time off for emergency duty. Likewise the health care professional is required to notify his or her employer when deployed as rescue personnel.
  • Prevention of Abusive Conduct/ Harassment – AB 2053 amends Government Code Section 12950.1 and the new law does not expand the duration of the mandatory training but only the content of that training. A single act shall not constitute abusive conduct, unless severe and egregious wherein it may include repeated infliction of verbal abuse, such as the use of derogatory remarks, insults, and epithets, verbal or physical conduct that a reasonable person would find threatening, intimidating, or humiliating, or the gratuitous sabotage or undermining of a person’s work performance.
  • Child Labor Law Violations – AB 2288, the Child Labor Protection Act of 2014 provides additional penalties for violations of California laws regarding employment of minors, including a penalty of $25,000 to $50,000 for “Class A” violations involving minors- 12 years of age or younger.
  • Criminal History Information in Public Contracts – AB 1650 requires contractors who bid on state contracts involving on-site construction-related services to certify that they will not ask applicants for on-site construction-related jobs to disclose information concerning criminal history at the time of an initial employment application.
  • Apprenticeship contributions – AB 1870 amends Labor Code Section 1777.5 and says that contributions paid to the California Apprenticeship Council for work performed on California public works projects must be allocated and divided among multi-employer apprenticeship programs operating in the same craft and geographic region based on the number of apprentices in each county registered in each apprenticeship program.

The legislator is definitely intending to improve the conditions for the employees by imposing liability over the employers. Moreover, these laws, if inculcated with the modest intentions, will certainly improve the workplace environment for the employer and their respective employees.


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