New Laws Affecting California Employers in 2018

January 13, 2018

As of January 1st, 2018 there have been significant new laws that will affect California employers in the upcoming year. Here is a summary of them:

Minimum Wage Increase

The California minimum wage increases on January 1, 2018 from $10.50 an hour to $11.00 an hour for employers of 26 or more employees, and from $10.00 an hour to $10.50 an hour for employees of 25 or fewer employees. All exempt employees must be paid a weekly salary of no less than $880 weekly and $45,760 annually ($840 weekly and $43, 680 annually for employers of 25 or fewer employees).

New Parent Leave Act

Effective January 1, 2018, employees who have at least 1,250 hours of service with the employer during the previous 12-month period and who work at a worksite in which the employer employs 20 to 49 employees within 75 miles will be permitted to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid parental leave to bond with a new child.

The leave must be taken within one year of the child’s birth, adoption, or foster care placement. Employees may use accrued vacation pay, paid sick time, other accrued paid time off during the leave.

The employer must guarantee reinstatement of employment for the employee in the same or comparable position at the end of the leave.

If the employer employs both parents they are entitled to leave pursuant to this law, but the parents’ mandated parental leave is capped at 12 weeks.

The employer is required to maintain health coverage under a group health plan at the same level and under the same conditions that would have been provided to the employee if the employee were not on leave.

Restriction on Obtaining Salary History

Effective January 1, 2018, employers are not permitted to directly or indirectly seek or inquire into a job applicant’s salary history, compensation or benefits. This information can not be used to determine whether to extend a job offer or in deciding what salary to offer the applicant.

Employers must disclose pay scales for a position upon request.

“Ban the Box” Expanded Statewide

Effective January 1, 2018, employers may not ask applicants for employment (written or orally) about their conviction history until a conditional offer of employment is made. After an offer of employment is made conditioned on a background check, the employer may inquire into conviction history and conduct a background check. If the background check reveals a criminal conviction, the employer must engage in an individualized assessment of whether the applicant’s conviction history has a direct and adverse relationship with the specific duties of the job that would justify denying the applicant the position.

If the final decision is to deny employment, the employer must notify the applicant in writing and explaining any existing procedure the employee has to challenge the decision or to request reconsideration.

Harassment Prevention Training Regarding Gender Identity, Gender Expression, and Sexual Orientation

Traditionally the California Fair Employment and Housing Act has required employers with 50 or more employees to provide 2 hours of sexual harassment prevention training to all supervisory employees within 6 months of their assumption of a supervisory position and once every 2 years. This training requirement has been expanded to include training regarding gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation.

The Department is also developing a poster regarding transgender rights that must be posted in a prominent and accessible location in the workplace.

Human Trafficking Poster

This expands the list of businesses and establishments that are required to post a notice that contains information related to slavery and human trafficking. It now expands to hotels, motels, and bed and breakfast inns.