California employers face the implementation of new laws that go into effect January 1, 2018. Early preparation should promote a smooth transition and get staff ready for any changes. To help employers comply with the new laws, training with human resources and other key staff may be necessary, as well as revisions to applications, employee manuals, and other workplace documents. Here are the top five 2018 laws to prepare for.
New Parent Leave
Employers with 20 or more employees will be required to provide 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected, baby bonding leave to eligible employees following the birth of a child, adoption, or foster care placement. To be eligible for this leave, an employee must have worked for the employer more than 12 months and have worked at least 1,250 hours during the prior 12-month period. The leave must be taken within one year of the child’s birth, adoption, or foster care placement. Employees may use any type of accrued paid time off during the parental leave. The law requires employers to maintain and pay for the employee’s continued health coverage at the same level and under the same conditions as coverage would have been provided if the employee was continuously employed. They may recover this cost if the employee doesn’t return to work as long as the reason they are not returning is not due to the continuation, recurrence, or onset of a serious health condition or beyond the control of the employee. Employers may not retaliate or discriminate against the employee for taking parental leave and are prohibited from denying or interfering with their right to leave.
In preparation of this change, small businesses may need to draft a compliant leave of absence policy, develop leave of absence forms and procedures, and train staff about the requirements of the act.
Ban the Box
Businesses with at least five employees will be prohibited from asking about criminal history on job applications and from asking about or considering criminal history before a conditional employment offer is made. If the employer wants to deny an applicant a position based on their criminal history, an individual assessment must be made. The assessment must take into consideration the nature of and gravity of the conviction, how much time has passed since the offense and the completion of the sentence, and the nature of the job. If after the assessment the employer wishes to disqualify the applicant, they must provide the applicant the opportunity to respond to the decision. The employer must review any response provided by the applicant and if the final decision is to deny employment the employer must provide a written notification of denial.
Employers should update their applications to ensure they comply with the new law.
Other Laws Coming Soon
Some other laws that will go into effect in the New Year are:
Employers will not be able to ask job applicants about their current or prior earnings.
Employers must provide the pay scale for a position if the applicant requests it.
Training on gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation harassment has to be included in sexual harassment training.
Employers may not voluntarily allow an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agent access to employee records without a warrant or subpoenas. Notification must be provided to employees and their union representatives.
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