New Laws to Impact California Business on January 1, 2016

Following a very active legislative session in 2015 many new laws are set to take effect on January 1, 2016. California business owners/operators should prepare themselves for the changes these new laws will bring with the new year. The following are just a few of the new laws California employers will need to understand, prepare-for and cope with.

AB 622
Assemblymember Roger Hernandez

Employers today have the ability to use EVerify an online tool of the Department of Homeland Security / US Citizenship and Immigration Service / Social Security Administration. Today employers use EVerify to check the eligibility of potential employees. This new law would expand the definition of an unlawful employment practice to prohibit an employer from using EVerify for potential employees that have not been offered a position. In other words, employers can not check a raft of job applicants without incurring a $10,000 penalty starting January 1.

SB 358
Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson

This bill prohibits an employer from paying any employee at rates less than the rates paid to employees of the opposite sex for substantially similar work. This bill makes it unlawful to prohibit an employee from disclosing their salary to co-workers. There was considerable support for this bill and only one opponent.

AB 1509
Assemblymember Roger Hernandez

This bill further clamps down on employers that retaliate against workers for participating in protected activities. The bill revises existing provisions of AB 1897 related to retaliation in the workplace. This bill, according to the author, allows workers to freely participate in protected activities. This bill adds employees of “household goods carriers” to the chaptered language.

AB 304
Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez

This bill amends the Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Family Act of 2014 and is worth noting as it took effect on July 1, 2015 . Current law entitles workers to one hour of sick leave or every 30 hours worked. This bill requires those hours to be worked for the same employer. The bill further provides that the employer may satisfy the provisions of the bill by providing not less than 24 hours to three days of sick leave by completion of the employee’s 120th day of work.

SB 579
Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson

This bill expands upon the reasons an employee can take job-protected time off of work without fear of discrimination or discharge under the Family School Partnership Act. It allows workers to take time off of work to enroll or re-enroll their child in school or participate in official school-sponsored activities. Under the law employees working in locations with 25 or more employees in the same location must give reasonable notice to participate in the program.

Minimum Wage Increase, Part II
Assembly bill 10 (Alejo) signed by Governor Brown in 2013, imposed a $2.00 an hour minimum wage increase, to be implemented in two separate $1.00 increments. The first dollar increase went into effect July 1, 2014, and the second and final increase — taking the current $9.00 an hour minimum wage increase up to $10.00 an hour — will commence on January 1, 2016.

It’s important to keep in mind that none of these brief descriptions should be considered legal advice. Contact your attorney for legal advice on how your business is specifically impacted by these new laws.