New California Workplace Laws

New California Labor Laws: Do They Affect YOU?


Most of these are effective January 1, 2014.

Wage and Hour Changes

placeholderCA Minimum Wage goes up: AB 10 As of July 1, 2014 the minimum wage will go up to $9 an hour and rise again January 1, 2016 to $10 per hour. Check to make sure your company is ready for wage changes.

CA Domestic Workers: AB 241New California laws form a Domestic Workers Bill of Rights. This provides overtime for some in-home workers, including personal attendants for elderly, disabled or ill persons. Most Home-care staff work 12 hour shifts without overtime. Many may be entitled to this and other pay.

Rest periods and Meals in California: SB435 The new guidelines extend the same meal and rest protections to the “recovery” periods workers might take to prevent heat related illness. Workers must not be required to perform any work related activities during such periods, such as admin work indoors “out of the heat.” The new laws also outline financial penalties for employees who are denied such rest periods.

Penalties for Employers who Violate Minimum Wage Laws: AB 442 All Employers must pay monetary damages to employees if they fail to follow new minimum wage guidelines. Employers cited by the California labor commissioner for violating minimum wage laws will face additional penalties. This means they must pay you the back pay plus penalties, as well as fines to the state.

New Liens Against Real Property: AB 1386 Provides for filing a lien against any employer’s real property (land, buildings, equipment etc.) if they fail to pay their fines and/or back wages as laid out by the California Labor Code. If your employer claims to be unable to pay what they owe to employees, the state can place a lien against their property or assets until they pay you, so they cannot sell or refinance anything without paying what is owed.

Criminal Penalties for Wage Violations: SB390 Employers who fail to payout money withheld from an employee’s paycheck pursuant to state, local, or federal law can now be hit with criminal fines and penalties in addition to all other liabilities.

New Protections for 2014

Defending Your Rights at Work Under New Labor Code: AB 263 bars employers from committing acts of retaliation on any employee/s who take action to protect their lawful rights at work. As well, AB 263 sets a standard civil penalty up to $10,000 for every employee, per violation: i.e. you can’t be fired, demoted or otherwise abused at work for defending your rights.

Whistle-blower Protections: SB 496 will protect all employees filing a report of grievances regarding wage violations or other unlawful action by an employer from retaliatory behavior by an employer. Again, speak up for yourself; you are protected under California law.

Immigration Status: AB 263 prohibits any employer from using threats of immigration reporting to keep employees from filing formal complaints of wage or overtime violations. If your boss forces you to work for less than legal minimum wage, without breaks or under sub-par conditions and threatens to report you to INS if you complain, they are breaking the law.

Denial of Business License: SB 666 states state authorities may revoke or suspend the employer’s business license for reporting or threatening to report workers to a federal law enforcement agent, based on immigration status. You heard right! CA authorities can revoke the company’s business licenses if they attempt to make you “accept things the way they are” or they’ll report you to immigration. ALL EMPLOYEES have the right to fair wages and safe, proper work conditions.

Background Checks for Job Applicants: AB218 Beginning July 14, 2014, anyone applying for a job cannot be forced to disclose criminal history or submit a background check. You must first be shown to be qualified for the position you are applying for before the company can require a background check. They must interview you and make a decision as to whether you are otherwise able to do the job before performing a background check.

If You File a False claim: Many new laws protect employees, however there are also provisions for employers to protect them from bad claims. New laws provide for attorney’s fees as well as costs to be reimbursed to companies who win a case filed against them for failure to pay wages, benefits or health and welfare pension funds. This only applies if the courts find the claim was made in bad faith, meaning any employee who makes a frivolous claim can be held liable.

New Discrimination Class Added: AB 556 Extends discrimination protection through the Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”) to those with “Military and Veteran status,” defined under FEHA as “a member or veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces, U.S. Armed Forces Reserve, the U.S. National Guard, and the California National Guard.”

Sexual Harassment definition: SB 292 clarifies that the motivation of sexual desire is not a requirement for committing sexual harassment.

Leave for San Francisco Caregivers: New, “Family-Friendly Workplace Ordinance” requires certain employers consider any request for a “flexible and/or predictable work schedule or location in order to assist with responsibilities of care giving. “Such employees are shielded from negative action or discrimination at work based on their caregiver status.” Any business with a San Francisco base must post the ordinance in the business with other required postings (as soon as poster is available).

Victims of Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Stalking: SB 400 extends the same protections as victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse to victims of stalking. Employers cannot fire, discriminate against or retaliate against any employee requiring time away from work to handle legal matters resulting from such issues, i.e. court appearances or other. All companies with 25 or more employees must accommodate with time for, medical or psychological treatment and /or safety training and planning.  Discriminating or retaliating against any employee in any way based on their status as a victim of domestic violence, stalking or sexual assault is deemed unlawful in California. In addition, the law requires the employer make reasonable considerations by implementing safety measures or similar if required as long as it does not create a financial hardship.

Time off for Emergency Duty: AB 11 expands California Labor Code providing leave for volunteer firefighters training for emergency duty.  Beginning January 1, 2014, employers with at least 50 employees will be required to allow those registered as reserve peace officers, or emergency rescue personnel up to 14 days out of the office for training at emergency duty.

Crime Victim, Right to time off: SB288 expands the rights of some crime victims, stating they must be given time off to appear in any court proceedings where their victim’s rights may be affected. This does not include all victims, and employees must still follow all company rules for requesting time off.

Paid Family Leave Benefits Expanded: SB 770 Expands the Paid Family Leave Act by allowing workers to collect partial wage substitution benefits when caring for a grandchild, grandparent, sibling and parent-in-law.  The right to such benefits from the state is still separate from your right to get time off from work.  The “family” was not re-defined by SB770 in other leave laws such as the California Family Rights Act (CFRA).

New industry Specific laws for California Workers

Labor Contracts for Farm Workers: SB 168 defines regulations for new contractors taking over a contract. The new contractor will be liable for any wages and/or penalties owed to previous contractors provided they meet two or more of the laws criteria. See these specifications on the link above.

Garment Manufacturer Laws: AB 1384 States licensed garment manufacturers will be subject to civil penalties if they do not clearly post the company name, its physical address, along with the registration number on the entrance of the business.

Car Washing Businesses Laws: AB 1387 increases the minimum required bond by the business to $150,000 from the previous $15,000. Any employers who hold a collective bargaining agreement which provides for all wages, hours of work, working conditions and a reasonably prompt dispute resolution process concerning nonpayment of wages, will be exempt from this increase.

Will these laws change your paycheck or situation at work? Make sure your employer is complying with all new California Labor laws and protect yourself at work. Contact UELG with any questions.

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