Amendments to California’s Sick Leave Law Are Passed

Amendments-to-California's-sick-leave-law-are-passedOn July 13, Governor Jerry Brown signed into law amendments to California’s sick leave law; the Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014. The law (also known as Assembly Bill 1522) greatly increased the number of workers in California who are eligible for paid sick leave. The amendments make substantial changes to the law – many of which are favorable to California employers.

The amendments (which are contained in Assembly Bill No. 304) include the following changes to the Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act:

  • They add an important stipulation to a provision in the original law. The provision stated that employees who work in California for 30 or more days within a year of beginning their employment are entitled to paid sick days (at a rate of at least one hour for every 30 hours worked). The new amendments require that an employee do that work for the same employer in order to qualify for the accrued sick leave.
  • They allow an employer to provide for employee sick leave accrual on a basis other than one hour for each 30 hours worked – provided that the accrual is on a regular basis, and the employee will have 24 hours of accrued sick leave available by the 120th calendar day of employment.
  • They allow an employer to limit an employee’s use of paid sick days to 24 hours or three days in each year of employment, or a calendar year, or a 12-month period.
  • They require employers to calculate paid sick leave based on an employee’s regular pay rate, or by the total wages divided by the total hours worked in a 90-day period, or the wages for other forms of paid leave.
  • They state that if an employee is rehired within one year of the end of their employment, then the employer is not required to reinstate the employee’s accrued paid time off, if the employee was paid off for their time when their employment ended.
  • They make a clarification regarding the original law’s rule that an employer is required under the original law to keep records for three years documenting an employee’s hours worked and paid sick days accrued. The amendments clarify that the employer is not obligated to inquire into (or record) the purposes for which an employee uses sick leave or paid time off.
  • They allow some employers who provided paid sick leave or paid time off to employers prior to January 1, 2015 to keep their old policies, so long as they make available an amount of leave applicable to employees that may be used for the same purposes and under the same conditions as specified in this section.

Can This Affect Your Business?

If you have concerns about what these amendments mean for your company’s policies, or you are considering making a change to your policies based on the passage of the amendments, it is highly advisable that you speak to an attorney. The employment and labor law attorneys at Beck Law P.C. in Santa Rosa are available for consultation. You can call or email their office today.

Training on Prevention of Abusive Conduct – New Rules for California Employers

prevention of abusive conduct, labor lawAssembly Bill (AB) No. 2053, “prevention of abusive conduct”, signed into law by California Governor Jerry Brown has added new requirements for employers regarding their harassment policies. AB 2053 amended Section 12950.1 of the California Government Code, which lays out necessary elements in the employee training programs that are required for employers with more than 50 employees. As a result of the new bill, these employers will be required to include training for supervisors on “prevention of abusive conduct.”

What Does “Abusive Conduct” Mean?

AB 2053 contains a definition of abusive conduct. It reads:

“For purposes of this section, ‘abusive conduct’ means 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.”

While the law requires employers with more than 50 employees to provide training to avoid abusive conduct, it does not actually ban abusive conduct in the workplace. This is to say, it does not create a cause of action for employees who have been subjected to abusive workplace conduct. (However, many forms of abusive conduct were already illegal under other statutes, such as sexual harassment laws.)

Other Requirements of Section 12950.1, Prevention of Abusive Conduct

Under the previously existing requirements of Section 12950.1, California employers with more than 50 employees must provide their supervisory employees with at least two hours of “classroom or other effective interactive training and education regarding sexual harassment.” The training must occur within 6 months of when the employees assume their supervisory positions.

The training must be offered to supervisory employees at least once every two years, and it must include “practical examples aimed at instructing supervisors in the prevention of harassment, discrimination and retaliation.” It must also be presented by trainers or educators with knowledge and expertise in the prevention of harassment, discrimination and retaliation.

12950.1 contains language making it clear that if any particular individual at a workplace does not receive the training, that will not in and of itself cause their employer to become vulnerable to an action alleging sexual harassment. It also states, however, that simply providing the training will not insulate an employer from liability in an action alleging sexual harassment.

(In other words, a sexual harassment suit will not be automatically successful just because a supervisor wasn’t given the proper training. But at the same time, an employer cannot claim that a supervisor cannot be guilty of sexual harassment just because he or she received the training.)

Advice on Meeting the Requirements of 12950.1

AB 2053 went into effect on January 1, 2015 – so if you are a California employer with more than 50 employees, and you have not yet updated the trainings that are given to your supervisors, it’s time to make some changes. If you have any questions about how to comply with the requirements of the new legislation, you can call or email the employment and labor law attorneys at Beck Law P.C., in Santa Rosa Labor Lawyer, to schedule a consultation.


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