In 2021, there are new updated employment Laws that impact California employers. To shed light on these regulations, our 2021 Employment Law series is designed to help employers navigate these significant changes so they can stay compliant with California law and thrive.

California legislatures have expanded the list of mandated reporters who are legally required to report child abuse under the Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act. These expanded regulations impact many California businesses that must now provide training to employees on the identification and reporting of child abuse and neglect. Today, we summarize the changes that are having an impact on employers in California.

What is Assembly Bill 1963?

On September 29, 2020, Governor Newsom signed Assembly Bill 1963 (AB 1963), which is an amendment to the Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act. This bill became effective on January 1, 2021, making it an important employment law update in 2021.

T​he Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act protects minors in school, public, and the workplace by requiring a range of mandated reporters to report any known or suspect case of child abuse or neglect. This group of mandated reporters included teachers, therapists, attorneys, physicians, and clergy members.

Effective January 1st, 2021, AB1963 expanded the list of people designated as mandated reporters to include human resource employees. This impacts employers in California who must now provide the necessary training to human resource employees.

AB1963 Updated Regulations in 2021

Revisions to the Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting have been made in the past year through AB1963. The central change is that the list of mandated reporters now includes human resource employees. Businesses that meet each of the following qualifications must now provide training to human resource employees on identifying and reporting child abuse:

  • Businesses with 5 or more employees
  • Businesses who employ minors
  • Businesses with adult employees who have contact with or supervise minor employees

The AB1963 extension designates human resource employees in these businesses as mandated child abuse reporters under the Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act. Such persons must be given reporting training, and a written statement with their obligations.

AB1963 has a broad interpretation of what it means to be a “human resource employee.” It defines a human resource employee as “the employee or employees designated by the employer to accept any complaints of misconduct” as well as “an adult person whose duties require direct contact with and supervision of minors in the performance of the minors’ duties in the workplace.”

This means that anyone who (1) is tasked with receiving complaints or (2) supervises a minor employee must receive the mandated training.

If a mandated reporter fails to report known or reasonably suspected child abuse or neglect, then the individual is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail or a $1,000 fine, or both. Mandated reporters can also be sued individually for damages, especially if the minor-victim or another minor is further victimized because of the failure to report.

What this means for California Employers in 2021

A​B 1963 will have a more significant impact on some industries than others. Industries such as food service, retail, and entertainment that employ a high concentration of minors will experience the greatest impact. Although human resource employees are commonly required to receive training on child abuse, the requirement that training is given to anyone who supervises a minor will have the greatest impact on employers.

In light of these changes, many employers must review and revise their policies for compliance. The required training is offered for free by the Office of Child Abuse Prevention in the State Department of Social Services. This free training can be found at Child Abuse Mandated Reporter Training and covers topics including:

  • The reasons for reporting
  • What constitutes child abuse
  • What needs to be reported
  • When you need to report
  • Where you need to report

AB1963 does not set a specific time frame within which employees must receive training. However, it is important to note that the training videos are lengthy and should therefore be started soon to ensure compliance is met promptly.

Employers in California can also work with an employment lawyer to ensure compliance. An employment lawyer can help guide employers through the course and put together a written harassment prevention policy.

Key Takeaways

Under the new regulations of AB 1963, employers in the state of California should be more aware of the training required regarding child abuse and neglect. The requirements are complex and employers should examine their policies and training to ensure they are in compliance.

If you need assistance navigating the requirements of the Assembly Bill 1963 extension or any other employment matter, please don’t hesitate to contact Hackler Flynn & Associates.

DISCLAIMER: Content within this post should not be considered legal advice and is for informational purposes only. Communications made through this post do not create an attorney-client relationship. Hackler Flynn & Associates is not responsible for any content that you may access from third-party resources that may be accessed through or linked to this post. Hackler Flynn & Associates is only licensed to practice in California.

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