California employers must be prepared to comply with these and other bills that impact employment law. Most of the new laws signed by Gov. Brown take effect January 1, 2012. This does not give employers much time to come into compliance. Contact us to find out what procedures you need to implement and what policies you need to update before the start of the New Year.
WAGE THEFT PREVENTION ACT of 2011 – PAY RATE NOTICES REQUIRED
AB 469 amends and adds several sections to the California Labor Code. Significantly, employers should note the new Labor Code section 2810.5 which requires an employer to provide each new nonexempt employee with a written notice at the time of hire containing the following:
(1) pay rate, basis (whether hourly, salary, commission etc.) and overtime rate,
(2) if applicable, allowances claimed as part of the minimum wage, including meal or lodging
(3) regular paydays designated by employer
(4) name of the employer, including any DBAs used by employer
(5) the physical address and telephone number of employers main office or principal place of business, and a mailing address, if different, and
(6) the name, address and telephone number of the employer’s workers’ compensation carrier.
Changes to any such information must be set forth in a written notice to employees within 7 days of the changes, unless the changes are reflected on a wage statement or other writing required by law to be provided. The Labor Commissioner has been tasked with creating a template for employers to use in compliance with the new notice requirements. Employers should take steps to promptly implement the new notice requirements. These requirements do not apply for exempt employees, but if the employee is misclassified as exempt than this adds yet another issue for employers that are found liable for misclassification. We can help you ensure your employees are properly classified and can help you draft notices that comply with these new requirements for nonexempt employees. Contact our office for assistance.
In addition, this bill contains several provisions which create new penalties or increase existing penalties for violations. For instance, any employer who pays employees less than the minimum wage proscribed by the applicable California wage order is subject to paying the employee restitution of wages. The law also increases the statute of limitations for the DLSE to collect penalties from 1 to 3 years.
GENDER IDENTITY AND EXPRESSION AS PROTECTED CLASSES
AB 887 updates the definition of gender to also mean a person’s gender identity and gender expression. Gender expression is modified to mean a person’s gender-related appearance and behavior whether or not stereotypically associated with the person’s assigned sex at birth. The new law amends the Fair Employment and Housing Act, the Unruh Civil Rights Act, and other nondiscrimination laws to include gender identity and expression as distinct protected classes. The updates make it clear that discrimination on the basis of gender identity and expression is prohibited. Employers must allow an employee to appear or dress in a manner consistent with the employee’s gender expression. Employers should review and update any uniform, dress and appearance policies.
NO DISCRIMINATION OF HEALTH PLAN COVERAGE
Current laws require health care service plans and health insurance policies to provide coverage to registered domestic partners of employees and/or policyholders that are equal to the coverage provided to the spouse of those persons. This new law provides that health plans may not discriminate between spouses or domestic partners of a different sex and spouses or domestic partners of the same sex.
E-VERIFY NOT REQUIRED UNDER CALIFORNIA LAW
The E-Verify Program of the United States Department of Homeland Security enables employers to use the program, voluntarily, to verify employees authorized to work in the U.S. AB 1236 prohibits the state (or city or county) from requiring employers to use an electronic employment verification system, such as E-Verify, unless required by federal law or as a condition to receive federal funds. The law bars making the use of E-Verify a condition of receiving a California government contract or a California business license. However, federal legislation that conflicts with this bill is currently pending. If passed, the federal Legal Workforce Act could trump California law on this issue and force employers nationwide to use a system like E-Verify. For the time being, California employers have the right to choose, but be on the lookout for updates and changes in the future.
INTERFERENCE OR RESTRAINT OF EMPLOYEE LEAVE UNDER MOORE-BROWN-ROBERTI FAMILY RIGHTS ACT
The Moore-Brown-Roberti Family Rights Act makes it an unlawful employment practice for employers to deny a request by an eligible employee to take up to 12 workweeks of unpaid protected leave during any 12-month period (1) to bond with a child who was born to, adopted by, or placed for foster care with, the employee (2) to care for the employee’s parent, spouse, or child who has a serious health condition, or (3) because the employee is suffering from a serious health condition rendering him or her unable to perform the functions of the job. AB 592 will make it unlawful for an employer to interfere with, restrain, or deny the exercise of, or the attempt to exercise, any protected rights under the Family Rights Act.
WAGE STATEMENTS FOR FARM LABOR CONTRACTORS
Employers are required to give employees itemized wage statements listing several required items. AB 243 expands the information that must be included on itemized wage statements, but only for Farm Labor Contracts. The new law requires farm labor contractors to disclose in the itemized statement the name and address of the legal entity that secured the employer’s services. Willful violation of the bill’s provisions will be a crime. The bill amends Section 226 of the Labor Code.