New California Labor and Employment Laws for 2015

Posted by Garry Mathiason on Mar 18, 2015

GGM_PhotoThe California Legislature concluded the final year of its 2013-2014 regular session in the early morning of August 29, 2014. Gov. Jerry Brown signed more than 900 of the 1,073 bills produced by the legislature into law, including several that bring changes to the construction industry. Here are six that could directly impact your business. All new laws take effect Jan. 1, 2015 unless otherwise noted.

Mandatory paid sick leave: California businesses must provide at least three days or 24 hours per year of paid sick leave for most employees, with a cap of 48 hours. Mandatory paid sick leave begins July 1, 2015. The rate of accrual will eventually increase to one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked. The 14-page new law is complex with eight new statutes and additional recordkeeping and notice requirements for employers. Employees who already have paid sick leave through a valid collective bargaining agreement are exempt from the law.

Restrictions on use of California driver’s licenses: Assembly Bill 60, which was passed in 2013 to allow driver’s licenses for people who cannot document their lawful presence in the U.S., goes into effect in January. Under this new law, it will be unlawful for an employer to discriminate on the basis of an applicant or employee’s possession of a California driver’s license. An employer cannot require a person to present a driver’s license unless the license is required by law.

Driver’s license information must be treated as private and confidential. The information is exempt from the California Public Records Act and must not be disclosed to any unauthorized person or used for any purpose other than to establish identity and authorization to drive. Licenses issued to undocumented workers will have the legend “FEDERAL LIMITS APPLY” in the upper right section of the front of the license.

Restriction on reporting criminal convictions: The “Fair Chance Employment Act” prohibits employers from asking applicants on a state contract involving onsite construction-related services to disclose his or her conviction history. Employers hiring for positions that are required by state or federal law to conduct a criminal background check or contract positions with a criminal justice agency are excluded from the law. The new law also excludes workers hired out of a hiring hall pursuant to a bona fide collective bargaining agreement.

Required anti-bullying training: Prevention of abusive conduct has been added to the two-hour supervisory sexual harassment training already required of employers with at least 50 employees every two years. Abusive conduct is defined as “conduct of an employer or employee in the workplace, with malice, that a reasonable person would find hostile, offensive and unrelated to an employer’s legitimate business interests. Abusive conduct may include repeated infliction of verbal abuse, such as the use of derogatory remarks, insults, and epithets, verbal or physical conduct that a reasonable person would find threatening, intimidating, or humiliating, or the gratuitous sabotage or undermining of a person’s work performance. A single act shall not constitute abusive conduct, unless especially severe and egregious.”

Right to provide employer with new identity documents: This new law prohibits an employer from discharging or in any manner taking 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. The civil penalty for unlawful immigration-related retaliation of up to $10,000 is to be awarded to the employee who suffered the violation.

Wage and hour liability for users of labor contractors: This significant new law requires client employers and labor contractors share all civil liability and civil legal responsibility for wages and workers’ compensation obligations to workers supplied by a labor contractor. Client employers are prohibited from shifting legal duties or liabilities under workplace safety provisions to labor contractors. Exemptions are allowed for specified nonprofit, labor and motion picture payroll services organizations and third parties engaged in an employee leasing arrangement. 

For more a more comprehensive list of labor and employment law changes effective January 1, 2015,  please see  

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