Question:

I am still trying to adjust to California’s new sick leave law. Are there more major changes in store for California employers?

Answer:

The Legislature reconvened on August 17, 2015. Although a few employment related bills have passed, several important bills are still pending. Now is the time to contact your legislators if you want to provide input on bills. The last day for the Legislature to pass a bill and forward it to the Governor’s desk is September 11, just 3 weeks away. The Governor has until October 11 to sign or veto bills.
The following employment related bills have passed:
“Clean-up” legislation amending the new paid sick leave law – AB 304: This “urgency” legislation is immediately effective. Some of the amendments include:
•    Clarification that to be entitled to paid sick leave, an employee must have worked in California for the same employer for 30 or more days within a year of commencement of employment.
• For employers who use the accrual method, provision of an alternative accrual method as long as accrual is on a regular basis so that an employee has no less than 24 hours of accrued sick leave or paid time off by the 120th calendar day of employment.
• Clarification that an employer is not required to reinstate rehired employees’ accrued paid time off that was paid out at the time of termination, resignation or separation of employment.
• Simplification of calculation of the sick leave pay rate.
Protection from Retaliation of Employees Who Request Accommodation -A.B. 987: This law prohibits an employer from retaliating or otherwise discriminating against a person for requesting accommodation for a disability or religious beliefs, regardless of whether the accommodation request was granted.
The following bills are pending:
Amendments to Kin Care and Family-School Partnership Act – S.B. 579: This bill would modify the kin care law to make the definition of “family member” and grounds for taking kin care consistent with the new paid sick leave law provisions.
It would also allow employees to take job-protected time off to find, enroll or reenroll their children in school or with a licensed childcare provider; allow employees to take time off to address a “child care provider or school emergency;” and re-define “parent” to include stepparents, foster parents or an employee who stands in loco parentis to a child.
Minimum Wage Increase -S.B. 3: The minimum wage is scheduled to increase to $10 per hour on January 1, 2016. This bill proposes an increase to $11 per hour on January 1, 2016, and to $13 per hour on July 1, 2017. After January 1, 2019, the minimum wage would be annually adjusted based on the California Consumer Price Index (CPI) and rounded to the nearest five cents.
Expansions to the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) – S.B. 406: If passed, this bill would expand coverage of the CFRA to employers with twenty-five or more employees, requiring them to provide 12 weeks of unpaid, job protected leave to eligible employees. The definitions of eligible family members would be expanded so eligible employees could take leave to care for a grandparent, grandchild, sibling or domestic partner, in addition to the employee’s child, parent or spouse with a serious health condition.
We certainly will see additional new employment laws next year – stay tuned!