Question: My business has 25 employees. Are there any new laws I need to be aware of?
Answer: Yes. October 15 was the last day for Governor Brown to sign or veto legislation. New employment developments include the following 3 laws, which are effective January 1, 2018. Employers should make necessary changes to their policies, procedures, and employment application forms to comply with these new laws.
• Parental Leave (Senate Bill 63) – Employers who employ 20 or more employees at a single worksite, or multiple worksites within 75 miles of each other, are required to provide up to 12 weeks of job protected parental leave to eligible employees. Employees are eligible for this new parental leave if they have worked at least 1,250 hours for the employer during the 12-month period prior to the leave. Eligible employees may take leave to bond with a new child within one year of the child’s birth, adoption, or foster care placement. If both parents are employed by the same employer and both are eligible for parental leave, the total amount of leave available for both parents is capped at 12 weeks.
Employers must maintain and pay for coverage under a group health plan for an employee who takes this leave at the same level that was provided prior to the leave. When the leave begins, employers must provide a guarantee of employment in the same or a comparable position upon the termination of the leave. Although the leave is unpaid, eligible employees are entitled to use accrued vacation pay, paid sick time, other accrued paid time off during parental leave.
This parental leave is not duplicative, meaning that if the employee is eligible for leave under both the federal Family and Medical Leave Act and the California Family Rights Act, the employee may not also take leave under this new parental leave law. However, an employee who is disabled by pregnancy may take up to 4 months of Pregnancy Disability Leave in addition to the new parental leave, for a potential total of 7 months leave.
• Pay Equity (Assembly Bill 168)- This law prohibits employers of all sizes from considering the salary history information of an applicant for employment as a factor in determining whether to offer employment to an applicant or the salary to offer an applicant. Employers may not ask an applicant for salary history or benefits information, orally or in writing. Upon request, employers must provide the applicant with the pay scale for the vacant position the applicant is applying for. This law applies to all employers including state and local government employers and the Legislature.
• Criminal History AB 1008- Employers with 5 or more employees are prohibited from asking about an applicant’s criminal history on an application for employment, or inquiring about the conviction history of an applicant until a conditional offer of employment is made. Before an employer can deny someone a job based on criminal history, it must make an individualized assessment of whether the applicant’s conviction history has a direct and adverse relationship with the specific duties of the job that justify denying the applicant the position, and it must inform the applicant of this decision in writing and provide the applicant an opportunity to respond. There are some exceptions for employers who are legally required to restrict employment based on criminal history.