FEB 2016 – An Overview of new 2016 Laws Affecting California Employers

An Overview of new 2016 Laws Affecting California Employers4  law books

By: CalChamber Employment Counsel

California enacted many new laws that will affect the day-to-day operations of California businesses in 2016.

Some of the new laws make important changes to existing state law. Other new laws make small changes to different parts of existing law or may only affect certain types of employers, such as employers with piece-rate workers.

Don’t forget that minimum wage increased on January 1, 2016 to $10 per hour – this is not a new law but this is the last mandatory increase from the law signed in 2013.

Mandatory paid Sick Leave Amendments

Last year the Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act was signed into law and required employers to begin providing the mandatory paid sick leave (PSL) benefit beginning July 1, 2015. After the law was already in effect the Legislature passed AB304 which made several substantial amendments to the law.

  • Among other things the amendments:
  • Clarify who is a covered worker
  • Provide alternative accrual methods other than one hour for every 30 hours worked
  • Clarify protections for employers that already provide PSL or paid time off before January 1, 2015 (a grandfather clause)
  • Provide alternative methods for paying who use PSL

For more details on this law, read CAlChamber’s white paper The Who What When and How of Mandatory Paid sick Leave in Californian: New Amendments Effective July 13, 2015

Gender Wage Equality

SB 358 (Fair Pay Act) revises Labor Code Section 1197.5, which deals with gender pay inequality or disparity. Under existing California law, employers cannot pay an employee less than the rate paid to an opposite-sex employee in the same establishment for equal work on jobs that require equal skill, effort and responsibility, and could face a lawsuit for such disparity.

The Fair Pay revises and expands this prohibition. It eliminates the requirement that the pay difference be “within the same establishment” and eliminates the use of the terms “equal work” for “equal skill, effort and responsibility”.

Instead SB 358 prohibits an employer from paying any of its employees less than employees of the opposite sex for “substantially similar work, when viewed as a composite of skill, effort and responsibility”. In addition, this legislation places specific requirements on employers to affirmatievely show that any wage differential is not unlawful but instead based entirely and reasonably upon one or more of the acceptable listed factors, including seniority and merit systems or other bona fide factors coupled with a showing of “business necessity,” as defined.