This article is Part 2 of a two-part series providing an overview of new federal and California employment laws. Unless otherwise noted, these laws will take effect on January 1, 2017.

Paid Sick Leave for In-Home Supportive Services Employees – SB 3

Effective July 1, 2018, employees who provide in-home supportive services may accrue up to 8 hours of paid sick leave per 12-month period. Employees accrue one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked. The law phases-in paid sick leave for large (26+ employees) and small (25 or fewer) employers on different schedules, tied to California’s minimum wage increases. Employees may accrue up to 16 hours of paid sick leave per calendar year or 12-month period when the applicable minimum wage reaches $13.00 per hour for the employer in question. When the minimum wage reaches $15.00 per hour, the cap increases to 24 hours or three days of eligible paid sick leave.

Local Paid Sick Leave Ordinances

As of January 1, 2017, six California cities have local paid sick leave ordinances on the books: Emeryville, Los Angeles, Oakland, San Diego, San Francisco, and Santa Monica. Berkeley will be the seventh when its ordinance becomes effective October 1, 2017. The ordinances differ from the state law and each other in various ways, including: who is a covered employee or employer, the amount of paid sick leave employees can earn, permitted uses, and whether frontloading paid sick leave is an option available to employers. Each ordinance has its own poster requirement as well.

Paid Family Leave Benefits – AB 908

Paid Family Leave provides compensation for up to six weeks when employees take time off from work to care for a seriously ill or injured family member, or to bond with a new child. Eligible employees may receive a wage replacement benefit equal to a percentage of the employee’s regular income. The state Employment Development Department administers the program.

Effective January 1, 2018, Paid Family Leave benefits will increase from 55 percent of income to 60 or 70 percent, depending on the employee’s income. The new law also eliminates the 7-day waiting period for employees to begin collecting the benefit.

Domestic Violence Leave Notice – AB 2337

AB 2337 requires employers with 25+ employees to provide all new employees with notice of their right to take unpaid leave due to domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking. Employers must provide the same notice to current employees upon request. This law does not create a new right to take unpaid leave that exceeds leave available under the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993. The Labor Commissioner will publish the required notice by July 1, 2017.

Juvenile Arrest Records Prohibited – AB 1843

AB 1843 prohibits most employers from asking applicants to disclose information about juvenile convictions and from seeking additional information related to juvenile arrests and detentions. The existing statutes bar questions about arrests that did not result in a conviction, but allowed employers to request information about juvenile convictions.

The revised statute includes exceptions that apply to peace officer applicants and employees who work in health facilities with access to patients or drugs/medications. Other employers should update their standard employment applications to ensure compliance with this new rule.

Choice of Law and Venue Prohibited – SB 1241

SB 1241 prohibits employers from requiring California employees to litigate or arbitrate employment disputes (1) outside of California or (2) under the laws of any other state. Out of state employers therefore cannot apply to their California-based employees the law of their home state in employment disputes. One narrow exception exists for employees who were represented by legal counsel when they signed the employment agreement in question.

Retirement Savings Program – SB 1234

SB 1234 requires all employers with 5+ employees to make available to all employees the option to enroll in a 401(k)/retirement savings program. Employers who do not already offer retirement savings plan, to enroll their employees in the new, state-run, California Secure Choice Retirement Savings Program, once it becomes fully operational.

Employers with 100+ employees have 12 months from the date the program becomes fully operational to comply with the statute; i.e., enroll their employees in the program or offer an alternative retirement savings program. Employers with 50+ employees will have 24 months to comply, and employers with 5-49 employees 36 months. Employees who are enrolled in the program by their employers will also have the option to opt out, and may elect to re-enroll in the program.

Recreational Marijuana Use – Proposition 64

On November 8, 2016, voters passed the Adult Use of Marijuana Act (“the Act”), decriminalizing the adult recreational use of marijuana, at least under state law. Adults over the age of 21 may use, possess, purchase, and even grow marijuana in limited quantities under California law, subject to certain limitations. The new law does not affect employers’ rights to enforce drug-free workplace policies, or to refuse to “accommodate” marijuana use. Employers therefore may continue to test for marijuana and make employment decisions based upon a positive test for marijuana.

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