Question:  I remember reading about harassment prevention training requirements for small businesses, but the deadlines for completing the training kept changing.  Is there a deadline?

Answer:  Although originally all California employers who employ five or more employees had a January 1, 2020 deadline to provide effective interactive training regarding sexual harassment, Governor Newsom signed legislation extending the deadline to January 1, 2021.  Employers who have not yet completed the requisite trainings for their employees must do so by December 31, 2020 to comply with the January 1, 2021 deadline.  Employers who provided legally compliant harassment prevention training and education in 2019 do not have to provide it again until 2021.

As a reminder, Governor Brown signed Senate Bill 1343 in 2018 requiring businesses with five or more employees to provide interactive training in the prevention of sexual harassment to all employees. The training must address sexual harassment, including providing practical examples of harassment based on gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation.  It must also address the prevention of discrimination, retaliation, and abusive conduct.  The law requires employers to provide one hour of this interactive training to nonsupervisory employees and two hours of this interactive training to supervisors and managers.  The training must be provided once every two years. However, new hires or newly promoted supervisors must receive the training within 6 months of hire or promotion. Additionally, beginning January 1, 2021, employees who are seasonal, temporary, or hired to work for less than six months must receive the training within 30 calendar days after their hire date or within 100 hours worked, whichever occurs first.  Employers are not required to train employees who are employed for fewer than 30 calendar days and work for fewer than 100 hours.

The training may be completed by employees individually or as part of a group presentation, and it may be completed in shorter segments, as long as the applicable hourly total requirement is met.  To satisfy the “effective interactive training” requirement, the training may include any of the following:

  • Classroom training that is in-person whose content is created by a trainer and provided to employees by a trainer, in a setting removed from the employees’ daily duties.
  • E-learning that is individualized, interactive, computer-based training created by a trainer and an instructional designer that includes a link or directions on how to contact a trainer who shall be available to answer questions and to provide guidance within two business days after the question is asked.
  • Webinar training that is an internet-based seminar whose content is created and taught by a trainer and transmitted over the internet or intranet in real time.
  • The use of audio, video or computer technology in conjunction with classroom, webinar and/or e-learning training.

The Department of Fair Employment and Housing (“DFEH”) provides free online training courses on preventing sexual harassment and abusive conduct in the workplace that satisfy California’s training requirements.  The training is available in English, Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Tagalog, and Vietnamese.  The DFEH’s online training may be accessed at https://www.dfeh.ca.gov/shpt/.  Employers must retain a record of all employees’ training for a minimum of two years.

The January 1, 2021 deadline is fast approaching, so now is the time to ensure your employees receive the required training before December 31, 2020.