New Year, New Laws

New Year, New Laws

Sacramento

As Californians welcome 2018, and the promises and challenges it is sure to bring, they are also preparing to welcome a number of new laws. 

From the legalization of recreational marijuana to an increase in the minimum wage, changes in employment guidelines, and new protections for immigrants, the new laws have something for almost everyone. 

The following is a list of key measures effective January 1: 

Proposition 64 – Recreational Marijuana

Allows adults 21 and older to possess up to one ounce of marijuana and grow up to six plants in their homes and those previously convicted of marijuana related charges can have their criminal records cleared of marijuana-related convictions.

AB 46 – Amendment to California’s Equal Pay Act

Upgrades the definition of “employer” to include public and private employers.

AB 168 – Salary History 

Prohibits employers from asking about a job applicant’s salary history, including previous compensation and benefits, or from seeking this information through a third-party. Prohibits employers from relying on salary history to determine whether to hire someone or deciding how much to pay him/her. 

AB 260 & SB 225 – Human Trafficking Notice

Additional businesses (including hotels, motels, and bed and breakfast inns) are now required to post the notice and it must include a text number to access support and services.

AB 450 – Worksite Immigration Enforcement and Protections

Employers are now prohibited from providing federal immigration enforcement agents access to nonpublic areas without a judicial warrant and from providing such agents access to employee records without a subpoena or judicial warrant. The prohibition, however, does not apply to Form I-9 inspections. Employers are required to post a notice regarding I-9 inspections and provide a copy of inspection results to affected employees and the union within 72 hours when applicable. 

AB 794 – County Recorder Offices

Involves the correction of indexing errors in county recorder offices.

AB 908 – Paid Family Leave and State Disability Insurance Benefits

Increases the amount of Paid Family Leave (PFL) or State Disability Insurance (SDI) benefits an employee can receive to either 60 percent or 70 percent of their earnings, depending on the employee’s income and removes the current seven-day waiting period before an employee is eligible to receive PFL benefits.

AB 976 – Electronic Court Filings

Expands permissive electronic filing of court documents and service of process. It also clarifies rules about electronic signatures, timing, notice, and transmission. 

AB 1008 – Ban-the-Box

Any employer with five or more employees is prohibited from asking about criminal history on job applications. It also prohibits inquiry about or consideration of criminal history at any time before a conditional offer of employment has been made. Once a conditional offer is made, an employer may seek certain criminal history. An applicant must be notified in writing of any decision not to hire because of a criminal conviction and be given an opportunity to respond.

AB1535 – Separate Shareholder Agreements

Allows for a separate shareholder agreement in articles of incorporation to better plan and execute future dissolutions or shareholder restructuring of corporations.

AB 1701 – Increased Liability for Construction Contractors

Imposes liability onto the general contractor for any unpaid wages, benefits, or contributions that a subcontractor owes to a laborer who performed work under the contract. 

SB 2 – Building Homes and Jobs Trust Fund 

Establishes the fund as a permanent funding source for affordable housing through a $75.00 fee on real estate transaction documents. The fee is capped at $225.00 per transaction and exempts real estate sales.

SB 3 – Minimum Wage Increase

Minimum wage increases to $11.00 per hour for businesses with 26 or more employees. Small businesses with 25 or fewer employees will continue to pay a minimum wage of $10.50 per hour. The increase also impacts the salary basis component of the test for exemption from overtime under California law, which requires exempt employees to earn a salary equivalent no less than two times the state minimum wage for full-time employment. As a result, employers with 26 or more employees must pay exempt employees an annual salary of at least $45,760. For employers with 25 or fewer employees, the minimum salary for their exempt employees remains at $43,680. 

SB 63 – Leave for New Parents 

Businesses with 20 or more employees must provide eligible employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid job-protected leave to bond with a new child within one year of the child’s birth, adoption, or foster care placement. To qualify, an employee must have worked for the employer more than 12 months, have worked at least 1250 hours during the prior 12-month period and be employed at a worksite where there are at least 20 employees within a 75-mile radius. 

SB 258 – Cleaning Product Right to Know Act of 2017

Employers who are required to make a safety data sheet readily accessible to its employees must now also provide employees with information regarding exposure to potentially harmful chemicals in designated cleaning products.

SB 306 – Labor Commissioner’s Authority Expanded for Retaliation Claims

Allows the Labor Commissioner to investigate an employer without a complaint from an employee. It also allows the Commissioner to obtain a court order prohibiting an employer from firing or disciplining an employee even before completing its investigation or determining retaliation has occurred. In addition, it penalizes an employer up to $100 per day (up to a maximum of $20,000) for willful refusal to comply with an order to reinstate or restore an employee or an order to post a notice to employees.

SB 396 – Addition to Harassment Prevention Training Topics

Supervisor harassment training provided every two years for employers with 50 or more employees must now include a discussion of harassment based on gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation. Employers must also display a poster on transgender rights to be developed by the Department of Fair Employment and Housing.

SB 813 – Voluntary Disclosure Program

The Franchise Tax Board can now waive the S-corporation or partnership late filing penalty as part of a Voluntary Disclosure Program agreement.

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