You’ve got a great new idea for a business, and the capital to get it started. You’ve found the right people for your team, and want to be sure it is all done right. How do you know the latest rules for your employees? At Hackler Flynn & Associates, our law firm is dedicated to making sure you are educated on California employment law.
It can be very challenging for a new business owner. Not only are you working round-the-clock to get the business up and running, but particularly in California, you are faced with a dizzying array of new rules and regulations every year. The California Legislature passes hundreds of bills each session, making it difficult for new business owners to understand their requirements with regard to their employees. Here are a few highlights from this session, and last.
You can no longer ask a prospective employee how much he/she made at his/her last place of employment. Under Assembly Bill 168, the salary history of job applicants can only be disclosed if the potential employee wishes to discuss it. However, even if the prospective employee voluntarily offers information about his/her prior salary history, you cannot use that information as a factor in determining whether to offer employment or what salary to offer the prospective employee. The idea behind the bill was to close the gender gap in pay.
Banning the Box
For all employers in California with five or more employees, Assembly Bill 1008 bans the box on the employment application where a person would need to disclose that they have been incarcerated. The reasoning behind the change was to give former inmates a chance at rehabilitating themselves by earning and keeping gainful employment. As a potential employer, you have the right to conduct a background check, but only after a conditional offer is made. Furthermore, you cannot deny an applicant a position solely or in part because of conviction history – the denial must be justified by linking relevant conviction history with specific job duties.
As of January 1, 2018, Californians have expanded rights to take time off from work. Senate Bill 63 guarantees up to 12 weeks of unpaid parental leave within the first year of their child’s birth, adoption, or foster care placement. That is now in effect for companies with between 20-49 workers, and it means expanded coverage for 2.8 million workers at small businesses. Larger companies have already been providing this benefit to their employees.
Certainly, by far, the most controversial of the issues gripping California (and the country) is the issue of immigration. Senate Bill 54 makes California a “sanctuary state.” The law limits the ability of state and local police to cooperate with federal immigration enforcement. There are many bills dealing with immigration policy, and it affects everything from the fact that officers can no longer inquire about someone’s immigration status or detail them until they have been previously convicted of a crime. Landlords cannot report their undocumented renters. Students whose parents are deported are now able to continue attending California schools. As a new business owner, the most significant change comes from Assembly Bill 450, which requires, among other things, employers to verify that immigration officials have a judicial warrant or subpoena prior to entering the workplace, and employers to provide notice to employees if there has been a request to review the employer’s immigration documents, such as Form I-9s.
Minimum Wage Hike
California’s minimum wage earners are getting a bump. The minimum wage here increased by 50 cents to $11 per hour for workers with at least 26 employees. For those at smaller firms, the minimum wage is $10.50 an hour. The minimum wage will continue to gradually increase over the next few years until it reaches $15 in 2022 for large companies, and in 2023 for everyone else. The minimum wage increase requires all employers, regardless of size, to post a new Minimum Wage Order. The increase also affects other pay practices, such as the overtime rate.
State and local agencies, as well as public venues like movie theaters, grocery stores, restaurants, etc., are now required to provide at least one diaper-changing station that is accessible to both women and men, thanks to Assembly Bill 1127. The law is not retroactive but does apply to new construction or a significant remodeling of a facility.
Small businesses already know about the laundry list of required employee forms and these requirements keep increasing.
A new law effective January 1, 2017, requires employers who must notify employees of their eligibility for the federal Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) to now also notify these employees that they may be eligible for the California EITC.
The specific language for the required notice regarding the federal and California EITC is contained in the statute. The notice must be provided one week before or after, or at the same time, the employer provides an annual wage summary, including but not limited to a Form W-2 or a Form 1099.
With new laws passed each session, it can be mind-bending to keep track of it all. Our team at Hackler Flynn & Associates has the expertise to keep you in compliance, so you can concentrate on what’s important: making money for your new business!
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