State Minimum Wage Increases January 1
On January 1, 2017, the minimum wage for employers with 26 or more employees is increasing to $10.50 per hour. The minimum wage for employers with 25 or fewer employees will remain at $10.00 per hour for 2017.
Note that various cities in California have enacted minimum wage laws that exceed the state minimum wage.
Employers in California should ensure they post the current minimum wage poster. The state minimum wage poster, available to download at no charge here: Poster.
Workplace Smoking Laws Amended
California’s laws regarding smoking in the workplace have been expanded to cover owner-operated businesses, even where the owner is the only worker present. It also bans smoking in hotel lobbies and meeting rooms, warehouses, bars and employee break rooms.
The law does not apply to up to twenty percent of the guestroom accommodations in a hotel, motel, or similar transient lodging establishment; retail or wholesale tobacco shops and private smokers’ lounges; cabs of motor trucks; theatrical production sites, if smoking is an integral part of the story in the theatrical production; medical research or treatment sites, if smoking is integral to the research and treatment being conducted; private residences, except for licensed family day care homes; or patient smoking areas in long-term health care facilities.
Weekly Pay Required for Temporary Security Guards
AB 1311 requires weekly pay for temporary security guards who are employed by a private patrol operator. The new law requires that they be paid no later than on the payday of the following workweek.
Sexual Harassment Prevention Training Required for Local Government Officials
AB 1661 requires all paid local government agency officials to receive two hours of sexual harassment prevention training and education within the first six months of taking office or commencing employment. Local agency officials must also continue to receive this training once every two years.
Wage Discrimination Amendments
AB 1676 amends the California Fair Pay Act to require that an employee’s prior salary cannot, by itself, be a "bona fide factor other than sex" justifying a pay disparity between employees of opposite genders.
Similarly, SB 1063 prohibits wage differentials based on race or ethnicity.
Juvenile Criminal History Inquiries Banned
Effective January 1, 2017, AB 1843 prohibits an employer from asking an applicant about or considering any juvenile court matter.
Teacher Salary Requirements
AB 2230 requires private primary and secondary schools to pay exempt teachers no less than “the lowest salary offered by any school district or the equivalent of no less than 70% of the lowest schedule salary offered by the school district or county in which the private elementary or secondary institution is located.”
Effective January 1, 2017, AB 2068 provides additional protections to artists for their photographs or information in any form of communication such as “an online service, online application, or mobile application of the talent service or one that the talent service has the authority to design or alter.” The bill requires a talent service to act, within 10 days, on requests of the artist to remove information or photographs from the talent service’s website, online service, online application, mobile application, or other electronic medium that the talent service has the authority to design or alter.
Itemized Wage Statements
AB 2535 amends California Labor Code Section 226, which specifies what information must be included on an employee's itemized wage statement (pay stub). The amendment clarifies that employers need not display total hours worked during the pay period for exempt employees who are paid by means other than salary, including outside salespersons and computer professionals.
Employers must continue to include the total hours worked by non-exempt employees.
Bonds Required for Wage and Hour Violation Appeals
Effective January 1, 2017, AB 2899 requires an employer, prior to appealing a citation by the Labor Commissioner for violation of wage and hour laws, to post a bond with the Labor Commissioner in an amount equal to the unpaid wages assessed under the Labor Commissioner’s citation, excluding penalties. The bond will be forfeited to the employee if the ruling is in the employee’s favor and the employer fails to pay amount owed within 10 days from the conclusion of the proceedings.
Immigration Discrimination Protections
Effective January 1, 2017, SB 1001 protects individuals from discrimination based on lawful immigration status. The new law prohibits employers from:
Requesting more or different documents than are required under federal law;
Refusing to honor documents tendered that on their face reasonably appear to be genuine;
Refusing to honor documents or work authorization based upon the specific status or term of status that accompanies the authorization to work; or
Attempting to reinvestigate or reverify an incumbent employee’s authorization to work using an unfair immigration-related practice.
Domestic Workers Bill of Rights Continued
SB 1015 repeals the sunset clause contained in the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, which was set to expire on January 1, 2017. The law regulates the hours of work and overtime rights of domestic work employees.
State-Run Retirement Savings Plan Mandated
SB 1234 mandates that all resident employees enroll in a state-run retirement savings plan, unless their employer already provides a qualified retirement plan. Employees will have the right to opt out.
Arbitration Agreements Limited
For employment contracts entered into, modified, or extended on or after January 1, 2017, SB 1241 restricts employers from requiring employees who primarily reside and work in California to adjudicate claims outside of California when the claim arose in California, or deprive employees of California law with respect of claims arising in California.
Private Attorneys General Act Amended
SB 836 amends the Private Attorneys General Act of 2004 (“PAGA”) and gives the California Labor and Workforce Development Agency more time to investigate and issue citations for California Labor Code violations, more oversight over PAGA actions, the opportunity to object to proposed PAGA settlements as insufficien