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What an Employer Needs to Look out for in 2015

2015 New California Employment Laws

The following is a synopsis of some of the changes that could impact employers doing business in California. This list is NOT all inclusive. The actual codes or laws are listed for more detailed information.
Most of the regulations listed below go into effect January 1, 2015 however some don’t go into effect until July 1, 2015 but are noted accordingly.


This bill mandates that almost all employers in CA will be required to offer Mandatory Paid Sick Leave to almost all employees. Due to the complexities of this bill, there is a separate attachment that recaps the specifics.

What should an employer do? Keep in mind this bill doesn’t go into effect until July 1, 2015 however it is good for employers to start planning for the implementation so they can be prepared by that time. Employers need to analyze their business and determine the best method to apply this new required sick leave. Employers should make sure that they have current written policies in handbooks, handouts and posters that accurately define this policy. Employers need to train supervisors or anyone granting time off going forward to make sure they understand these new requirements and should have a meeting with all employees to notify them of the new regulations.

How can we help? JR Consulting writes employee handbooks and procedures in regard to these type policies. JR Consulting can also be retained to assist with training on new policies and procedures.


This law adds “abusive conduct” training obligations to the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) at Section 12950.1 of the Government Code. Under the law, employers with 50 or more employees who are currently required to provide at least two hours of sexual harassment training to supervisory employees every two years now must also include in this training education on preventing “abusive conduct” in the workplace. This has been called the “anti-bullying” training requirement. “Abusive conduct” refers to an instance when an employer or employee conducts himself of herself in the workplace, with malice, in a manner that a reasonable person would find hostile, offensive, and unrelated to an employer’s legitimate business interests. It may include (1) repeated infliction of verbal abuse, such as the use of derogatory remarks, insults and epithets; (2) verbal or physical conduct that a reasonable person would find threatening, intimidating or humiliating; or (3) the gratuitous sabotage or undermining of a person’s work performance. A single act does not constitute abusive conduct, unless especially severe and egregious.

What should an employer do? Employers should make sure that they have current written policies in handbooks, handouts and posters that accurately define and explain harassment in the workplace. Employers also should ensure they are in accordance with other required laws (like AB1825 and AB 2053) that requires supervisors, management and leads to be trained upon hire and promotion and go through a refresher course every 2 years on sexual harassment prevention.

How can we help? JR Consulting writes employee handbooks and procedures in regard to harassment and these type policies. JR Consulting is also certified to train on AB1825 and offers both supervisor and regular employee Harassment Prevention training. JR Consulting can also be retained to assist with conducting investigations of workplace conflicts that may result in in accusations of harassment or discrimination.


AB 1443 adds protection of unpaid interns and volunteers under the Fair Employment and Housing Act. The law prohibits employers from subjecting unpaid interns or volunteers to discrimination or harassment based on their race, religious creed, color, national origin, ancestry, physical disability, mental disability, medical condition, genetic information, marital status, sex, gender, gender identity, gender expression, age, sexual orientation, or military and veteran status. An employer may also be liable for the acts of nonemployees, with respect to sexual harassment towards unpaid interns or volunteers, where the employer, its agents or its supervisors knows or should have known of the conduct and fails to take immediate and appropriate corrective action.

What should an employer do? Understanding this regulation is very important to every employer. The key is to keep the lines of communications open with your employees and always be willing to listen to complaints, feedback, and suggestions. It is imperative that employers make sure those supervisors and other staff that they put in roles as having “authority over others” are doing the right thing and are communicating issues shared with them to you in a timely manner.

How can we help? JR Consulting can assist with training supervisors on communication and management skills. JR Consulting can also be retained to assist with conducting investigations of workplace conflicts.


This new law restricts the contractual waiver of certain civil rights statutes involving hate crimes on employment arbitration agreements altered, modified, renewed or extended after Jan. 1, 2015. Under AB 2617, no person shall require another person to waive any legal right, penalty, remedy, forum or procedure for violation of the Ralph Civil Rights Act or the Bane Civil Rights Act as a condition of entering into a contract for the provision of goods and services. This includes the right to file and pursue a civil action or complaint with or otherwise notify the attorney general, any other public prosecutor or any law enforcement agency, the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH), or any court or other governmental entity.

The Ralph Civil Rights Act prohibits violence or threats of violence based on an individual’s race, color, religion, ancestry, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, political affiliation or position in a labor dispute. The Bane Civil Rights Act prohibits any person from interfering by force or by threat of violence with your federal or state constitutional or statutory rights.

The waiver of any right under these civil rights acts shall be knowing, voluntary, in writing and expressly not made as a condition of entering into the contract or as a condition of providing or receiving goods and services. Any person who seeks to enforce such a waiver shall have the burden of proving that it was knowing, voluntary and not made as a condition of the contract or of providing or receiving goods or services.

What should an employer do? ALWAYS make sure that any Arbitration Agreement is drafted by a CALIFORNIA EMPLOYMENT ATTORNEY FOR CALIFORNIA EMPLOYEES. Always make sure that this is drafted on your specific work environment and that you do not use “templates” or ones borrowed from other employers. JR Consulting can provide referrals to an expert in this area if needed.

AB 1897 – Expansion of employer liability to workers obtained from third-party labor contractors

Under current California law, an employer that obtains workers from third-party labor contractors can only be held responsible if a worker can prove “joint employer” status. AB 1897, adding a new Section 2810.3 to the Labor Code, effectively removes the “joint employer” requirement by greatly expanding liability for employers that obtain workers from third-party labor contractors. The law will require client employers to share with a third-party labor contractor all civil responsibility and liability for all workers supplied by the labor contractor for the payment of wages and the failure to obtain valid workers’ compensation coverage.

Imposes all civil legal responsibility and liability on the client employer for any wage-and-hour violations committed by the labor contractor for the labor contractor’s employees it supplied pursuant to the contract with the client employer. Additionally, it imposes civil liability and legal responsibility on the client employer for the labor contractor’s failure to secure valid workers’ compensation coverage for the labor contractor’s employees working pursuant to the contract with the client employer. Basically, if the labor contractor fails to pay its employees properly or fails to provide workers’ compensation coverage for those employees, the client employer will now be legally responsible. A client employer can contract for indemnification from the labor contractor for the labor contractor’s failure to pay wages or secure workers’ compensation coverage. There is, however, one exception: client employers cannot shift any legal duties or liabilities under workplace safety laws to the labor contractor. Additionally, the law requires a client employer or labor contractor to provide to any state enforcement agency or department any information within its possession, custody or control to confirm compliance with applicable state laws.

This regulation has many exceptions. For more information see: Click Here

What should an employer do? Make sure you are monitoring your temporary agencies and ensure they are in compliance with wage and hour laws as well as carry the proper Workers Compensation Insurance as well as are complying with other employment related laws.

How can we help? JR Consulting conducts HR and Payroll Audits for employers and can provide a written report of findings so the employer has a current assessment of their compliance issues (if any) and rectify accordingly.


AB 1660 clarifies an existing law prohibiting “national origin” discrimination against employees who hold or present a driver’s license obtained under Section 12801.9 of the California Vehicle Code. Under Section 12801.9 of the California Vehicle Code, the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) must issue a driver’s license to a person who cannot prove his or her presence in the United States is authorized under federal law, but meets all other requirements for licensure and provides satisfactory proof to the DMV of his or her identity and California residency. Such licenses have a distinguishing feature showing the letters “DP” instead of the letters “DL.” AB 1660 clarifies that discrimination based on an employee having such a license is in violation on both the Unruh Civil Rights Act and the FEHA. The law also provides, however, that an action taken by an employer to comply with any requirement or prohibition under the federal Immigration and Nationality Act is not a violation of law.


AB 1792 prohibits an employer from discharging, discriminating or retaliating against an employee who enrolls in the Medi-Cal program and from refusing to hire a beneficiary for being enrolled in the Medi-Cal program.

New Laws that discuss mandated time off for employees.


Labor Code section 226.7 prohibits an employer from requiring an employee to work during a meal, rest or recovery period mandated by an applicable statute, or applicable regulation, standard or order of the Industrial Welfare Commission (IWC), the Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board, or the Division of Occupational Safety and Health. Section 226.7 also establishes penalties for an employer’s failure to provide a required meal or rest and recovery period.

SB 1360 amends Section 226.7(d) to clarify existing laws that legally mandated “rest” periods and “recovery” periods to count as “hours worked,” preventing employers from deducting any such time from an employee’s wages. Of particular importance, the amended provision does not mention “meal periods” and thus meal periods remain unpaid and do not count as “hours worked.”

Section 226.7(a) specifically defines “recovery period” to mean “a cooldown period afforded an employee to prevent heat illness.” SB 1360 thus requires employers to pay for “cooldown periods” when it was not clear whether employers had to pay for “cooldown” periods before.


Labor Code section 230.3 prohibits employers from discharging or in any manner discriminating against employees for taking time off to perform emergency duty as a volunteer firefighter, reserve peace officer or emergency rescue personnel. Section 230.3 currently does not protect all types of emergency rescue personnel, such as disaster medical response personnel. This law expands the list of eligible employees to include an officer, employee or member of a disaster medical response entity sponsored or requested by the state, such as state coordinated programs like California Medical Assistance Teams (CAL-MAT). AB 2536 also requires an employee who is a healthcare provider to notify his or her employer at the time the employee becomes designated as “emergency rescue personnel” and when the employee is notified that he or she will be deployed. The law’s requirements do not apply to any public safety agency or provider of medical services if the employee’s absence would hinder the availability of public safety or emergency medical services.

What should an employer do? Employers should reflect this new language in their policies and procedures and employee handbooks.

How can we help? JR Consulting can assist with writing and updating policies, procedures and employee handbooks.



AB 2751 makes several notable changes to Labor Code sections 98.6, 1019 and 1024.6. Current law prohibits an employer or any other person from engaging in – or directing another person to engage in – an unfair immigration-related practice against a person for the purpose of or with the intent of retaliating against any person for exercising a right protected under state labor and employment laws or under a local ordinance applicable to employees, as specified. “Unfair immigration-related practice” is expanded from, among other things, only actually filing a false police report to now include “the threatening to file or the filing of a false report or complaint with any state or federal agency. AB 2751 further requires a $10,000 civil penalty for an employer’s retaliation against an employee for exercising a right protected under state labor and employment laws or under a local ordinance applicable to employees, as specified, to be awarded to the employee who suffered the retaliation. It authorizes a civil action for equitable relief and any applicable damages or penalties by anyone subjected to an unfair immigration-related practice and authorizes a court to order the suspension of certain business licenses held by the violating party for varying periods based on the number of violations. It also prohibits an employer from discharging or in any manner taking any adverse action against an employee because the employee updates or attempts to update personal information based on a lawful change of name, Social Security number or federal employment authorization document. Finally, AB 2751 prohibits an employer’s compliance with these federal provisions from serving as the basis for a claim of discrimination, including any disparate treatment claim.


AB 1723 deals specifically with “waiting time penalties.” Labor Code section 1197.1 currently allows for specified statutory penalties against employers who fail to pay minimum wage. Current law allows employees to recover “waiting time penalties” by allowing for (1) a civil penalty, (2) restitution and (3) liquidated damages. Current law also states employers who fail to pay minimum wage are subject to “waiting time” penalties through (1) a civil action and (2) a hearing before the labor commissioner. AB 1723 amends Section 1197.1 to authorize employees’ recovery of “waiting time” penalties through a citation given by the labor commissioner.


Before AB 2074, it was unclear whether California Labor Code section 1194.2 imposed only a one-year statute of limitations on the recovery of liquidated damages for failure to pay minimum wage. This law clarifies that the statute of limitations to recover liquidated damages for failure to pay minimum wage will be that of the underlying wage claim, which is three years.


This bill addresses civil sanctions relating to the unlawful employment of minors. On July 8, 2014, Governor Brown signed into law the Child Labor Protection Act of 2014. Under the Act, an individual may be entitled to treble damages if he or she is discriminated against in the terms or conditions of his or her employment because he or she filed a claim or civil action alleging a violation of the California Labor Code that arose while he or she was a minor. The new law specifies that the statute of limitations for a child labor violation is tolled until the child reaches the age of 18. The bill also increases civil penalties in Class “A” violations involving a minor 12 years of age from $5,000-$10,000 to $25,000-$50,000. Class “A” violations typically involve placing children into hazardous occupations or dangerous settings.
Benefits Eligibility Waiting Period Change AGAIN!!!
SB 1034 – Last year I told you about AB 1803 that a California specific statute that required employers to change the waiting period for health insurance policies to be no greater than 60 days. Well guess what….that law was repealed.
On August 15, 2014, SB 1034 was signed into law, and in addition to including many provisions related to small group market ACA compliance, it effectively repealed the more restrictive 60-day waiting period limitation imposed by previous State law, AB 1083.
Under the ACA, all group health plans were required, as of their 2014 renewal date, to limit waiting periods to no more than 90-days. California passed its own legislation (AB 1083) creating a more restrictive waiting period of no more than 60-days for group health plans written in California. In effect, the conflict between State and Federal law created different rules for self-funded plans operating in the State who comply with Federal law, and fully-insured plans in the State. The latest change to the law will provide administrative relief to multi-state employers as well as to most employers/plan sponsors in California.
Although the most critical part of the new law was its effect on the 60-day waiting period rules in California, there was no clear effective date in the bill in relation to the repeal of the 60-day waiting period. Absent an effective date and clarification from the State, it may be safe to assume its effective date is the date it was signed into law: August 15, 2014. The new law applies to fully-insured plans written in California. Thus far in 2014, employer/plan sponsors and insurance carriers were modifying their waiting periods to the first of the month following 30-days in order to comply with AB 1083. With the passage of SB 1034, California employer/plan sponsors may defer to Federal ACA rules when imposing a waiting period. Highlights of SB 1034 include:
 The prohibition on insurance carriers to impose any waiting period of their own (deferring to any waiting period imposed by the employer/plan sponsor pursuant to the employer’s plan terms)
 Applies to both small and large group employer/plan sponsors, regardless of grandfathered status
SB 1034 allows employer/plan sponsors to govern the waiting period, rather than the carrier/insurer. Therefore, the provision providing for no waiting periods prior to eligibility seems to ONLY affect carriers/insurers, and not plan sponsors. Plan sponsors of fully-insured plans written in California are permitted to impose a waiting period of up to 90-days beginning now. If the plan was already modified and the plan seeks to amend the plan to include a longer waiting period, the plan may do so but must create a summary of material modification or plan amendment in order to effectuate the prospective change to the plan terms.
Additional guidance from the State is needed due to the legislation including technical errors (e.g., the definition of a waiting period is defined as the time prior to becoming eligible for benefits which contradicts Federal law which describes a waiting period as the period after eligibility but before enrollment). Based on the legislative intent, SB 1034 seems to mirror the Federal 90-day waiting period limitation. Absent any clarification from the State, it is unclear whether a period prior to eligibility would be permitted (e.g., an orientation period).
For further review of CA SB 1034, go to:
What should an employer do? Since many employers change their handbooks and other practices to reflect the 60 days they may now have to change this back. They should consult with their insurance broker regarding the way their specific contract is written.
SB 1446 – Certain small employer healthcare plans may continue through 2015
SB 1446 allows a small employer healthcare service plan contract or a small employer health insurance policy to continue in force until December 31, 2015, provided it (1) was in effect on December 31, 2013, (2) was still effective at the law’s passage and (3) does not qualify as a grandfathered health plan under the Affordable Care Act.
New Poster and Posting Requirements for 2015
Many laws as outlined above will change current poster information. Some of the regulations that will affect posters would be:
New Paid Sick Leave – While July 1, 2015 is the effective date for employers to begin providing the paid sick leave benefit, the posting requirement is effective January 1, 2015. Most poster companies will be including some kind of language in their All in One poster but below is a link to a FREE template employers can use in the meantime.
The Department of Fair Employment Housing update-Effective January 1, 2015, there are mandatory changes to the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) Discrimination and Harassment notice (California Law Prohibits Workplace Discrimination and Harassment). These updates reflect new legislation (AB 1443) that expands anti-harassment protections to unpaid interns and volunteers.
The Department of Fair Employment Housing Sexual Harassment pamphlet- There is updates to the Sexual Harassment pamphlet that reflect recent changes in legal protections against harassment. Every California employee and independent contractor must receive a sexual harassment information sheet from his/her employer.
Cal OSHA Notice-Effective February 2014, the Cal/OSHA notice (Safety and Health Protection on the Job) was updated to reflect revised federal Hazard Communications Program regulations issued by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
Other Posters or Pamphlet Updates- there were several other mandatory changes that went into effect mid last year that employers may not be aware of. These changes include:
Effective July 1, 2014, Paid Family Leave, which must be given to new employees and employees requesting time off for a covered reason, and Workers’ Compensation Rights & Benefits, which must be given to all new employees when they are hired.
It is recommended that employers replace their current posters with the most recent 2015 “All in One” Posters that reflect these changes but to also remember that other posters may be required to be posted such as Wage Orders, Safety Regulations and other industry related posters.
Important Dates and Notifications for 2015
2015 California & Federal Taxes California
Disability Insurance SDI/PFL
Unemployment Insurance
Employment Training Tax
(Social Security)
(Unemployment Insurance) Paid By Employee Employer Employer
Paid By Employee/ Employer Employee/ Employer Employer
Taxable Wage Base
Taxable Wage Base
All income
$7,000 Tax Rate 0.9 %1 Varies2 0.1%
Tax Rate 6.2%3 1.45% 0.6%
Maximum Tax Payment
Maximum Tax Payment
No limit
$42.00 Maximum Weekly Benefit $1,103.29 $450.00 N/A
Maximum Weekly Benefit N/A N/A N/A
Workers’ Compensation Maximum Weekly Benefit Award: $1,103.29
Federal Minimum Wage: $7.25
California Minimum Wage: $9.00 San Francisco Minimum Wage: $11.05 (increase $12.25 May 1st)
Note: When Federal and State minimum wages differ, the higher amount prevails. Please check with your tax and payroll vendor to ensure proper rates are applied.
1 Includes PFL
2 Schedule F+ is in effect in 2015; rates range from 1.5% to 6.2%
3 Employee tax rate 6.2%
Note: Employers should also take note that when minimum wage increases the salary test threshold for Exempt positions in CA also increases. Currently minimum wage in CA is $9.00 per hour. The salary threshold is minimum wage x 2 x 2080 hours. This means it would now be $9.00 x 2 = $18.00 x 2080= $37,440.00. That is the MINIMUM an employer can pay an exempt person for them to meet the salary test. Keep in mind they must meet the duties test ALSO for them to meet overtime exemption but they must meet salary test first. Minimum wage had increased in July of 2014 so the annual salary requirement went up mid-year. This is a significant increase so employers may need to review their Exempt status employees and make sure they are being paid properly. This is only for certain exempt positions. Computer professionals and some professional positions in CA have other salary thresholds. For more information please contact JR Consulting.
OSHA Regulations and Safety Awareness
AB 1634 – Significant changes to abatement requirements during pending Cal-OSHA appeal
AB 1634 makes significant changes to employer obligations regarding abatement during a pending Cal-OSHA appeal.
AB 1634 was introduced to make several changes to employers’ obligations to abate during pending appeals. Under the new law regarding citations alleging serious violations, the Department of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH) shall not grant a proposed modification to civil penalties for abatement or credit for abatement unless the employer has done any of the following: (1) abated the violation at the time of the initial inspection, (2) abated the violation at the time of a subsequent inspection prior to the issuance of a citation or (3) submitted a signed statement under penalty of perjury and supporting evidence when necessary to prove abatement. Furthermore, AB 1634 will now require employers also to submit “supporting evidence” where necessary to prove abatement, in addition to a signed statement under penalty of perjury that the employer has complied with the abatement terms.
Notably, the filing of a petition for or the pendency of the reconsideration of a final order or decision involving a citation classified as serious, repeat serious or willful serious shall not stay or suspend the requirement to abate the hazards affirmed by the decision or order unless the employer can demonstrate, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the stay or suspension of the abatement will not adversely affect the health and safety of employees.
AB 326 – Employers may now use email (instead of telegraph) to report serious injuries to DOSH
Under California Labor Code section 6409.1, employers are required to file a complete report of every occupational injury or occupational illness of each employee, as specified, with the Division of Occupational Safety and Health within the Department of Industrial Relations. The law replaces “telegraph” with “email,” and Section 6409.1 now requires employers to make an immediate report by telephone or email of every case involving an employee’s serious injury, illness or death to the division.
As previously mentioned last year OSHA has revised its Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) to align with the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS). GHS, developed by the United Nations, is a global approach to classifying chemical hazards and providing information about those hazards via standardized labels and safety data sheets. What you need to do and when:  Chemical users: Continue to update safety data sheets when new ones become available, provide training on the new label elements and update hazard communication programs if new hazards are identified.  Chemical Producers: Review hazard information for all chemicals produced or imported, classify chemicals according to the new classification criteria, and update labels and safety data sheets.
Effective Completion Date
December 1, 2013
Train employees on the new label elements and SDS format.
Employers June 1, 2015* December 1, 2015 Comply with all modified provisions of this final rule, except: Distributors may ship products labeled by manufacturers under the old system until December 1, 2015. Chemical manufacturers, importers, distributors and employers
June 1, 2016
Update alternative workplace labeling and hazard communication program as necessary, and provide additional employee training for newly identified physical or health hazards.
Transition Period
Comply with either 29 CFR 1910.1200 (this final standard), or the current standard, or both.
All chemical manufacturers, importers, distributors and employers * This date coincides with the European Union implementation date for classification of mixtures.
OSHA has revised its Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) to align with the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS). GHS, developed by the United Nations, is a
global approach to classifying chemical hazards and providing information about those hazards via standardized labels and safety data sheets.
Hazard Communication Standard
In order to ensure chemical safety in the workplace, information about the identities and hazards of the chemicals must be available and understandable to workers. OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) requires the development and dissemination of such information:
 Chemical manufacturers and importers are required to evaluate the hazards of the chemicals they produce or import, and prepare labels and safety data sheets to convey the hazard information to their downstream customers;
 All employers with hazardous chemicals in their workplaces must have labels and safety data sheets for their exposed workers, and train them to handle the chemicals appropriately.
Major changes to the Hazard Communication Standard
 Hazard classification: Provides specific criteria for classification of health and physical hazards, as well as classification of mixtures.
 Labels: Chemical manufacturers and importers will be required to provide a label that includes a harmonized signal word, pictogram, and hazard statement for each hazard class and category. Precautionary statements must also be provided.
 Safety Data Sheets: Will now have a specified 16-section format.
Which employers have to comply with this new regulation?
OSHA estimates that over 5 million workplaces in the United States would be affected by the revised Hazard Communication Standard (HCS). These are all those workplaces where employees could be exposed to hazardous chemicals including those that create hazardous chemicals.
Under the NEW definition almost ALL employers have what are classified as “chemicals” in the workplace which can include; cleansers, disinfectants and common workplace cleaning supplies. How can JR Consulting help? JR Consulting now offers training that meets the OSHA 29 CFR 1910.1200 GHS standard guidelines. This training is available in English and Spanish. JR Consulting also can help you with written safety and Injury Illness Prevention Plans.
For more information on this regulation please visit
This Newsletter is provided to you by JR Consulting.
For any questions or services please contact:
JR Consulting
Jaenene Maldonado
Phone: 562-972-3817
Sources for the content and some of the information contained within include; Internal Revenue Service, Society of Human Resources, Department of Labor, California Employment Development Department, FEHA, BNA, BLR, California and Claremont Chamber of Commerce, Law Offices of Shepard Mullin, Nancy Mullin, Law Offices of Holland and Knight Linda Auerbach Allderdice, James W. “Jim” Michalski, John H. Haney, OSHA, Employers Group and the EEOC websites. This information should not be construed as legal advice.

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