​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​As the calendar flips to 2019​, it's a good time to make sure you are up-to-date with the new laws, regulations, court cases and agency actions —​ many of which will affect California employers’ day-to-day operations and policies. These updates are organized by topic below to help you understand your responsibilities and learn how they will impact your business. They also have links to their respective Law Library pages to give you more details.

Also, check the ​Local Ordinances and Required Posters and Pamphlets pages to make sure you are compliant.​​​

Note: The links below will either take you directly to the topic content or to the page that contains that content. Look for flags on content pages to find laws, actions and regulations that are new for 2019. You may need to scroll down to find them.

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Recruiting and Hiring

  • The California legislature clarified several aspects of last year's salary history ban law. See Applications for Employment.
  • Gender options are being phased in for documents that may be presented at the time of hiring, including California identification cards, birth certificates and driver's licenses. See Employee Identification.
  • By January 1, 2020, all employers with five or more employees will be required to provide two hours of sexual harassment training to supervisors and one hour to nonsupervisorial employees within six months of hire or promotion. See Training New Hires.

Exempt and Nonexempt

Verifying Eligibility to Work

Types of Workers

  • A California appellate court held that a company leasing its service station to an operator cannot be held liable as a joint employer for wage and hour claims of the operator’s employees. See Non-Direct Hires.
  • A new law expands the concept of joint employer liability for clients of port drayage motor companies even to workers not performing labor within the usual course of the client employer's business. See Non-Direct Hires.
  • In one of the first published decisions involving independent contractor status in the gig economy, a federal district court used the right to control test and held that delivery drivers were properly classified as independent contractors. See Independent Contractors.
  • The California Supreme Court ruled that the long-standing common law “right to control” test did not apply in a wage and hour class action lawsuit, instead adopting an “ABC test” to be applied when distinguishing between an employee and an independent contractor for purposes of claims arising under California's Wage Orders. See Independent Contractors.
  • A decision from a California Court of Appeal clarified that the “ABC test” for independent contractor status will be applied only for claims arising under Wage Orders, and not to non-Wage Order claims. See Independent Contractors.

Employing Minors

  • Talent agencies are now subject to a new law requiring them to provide sexual harassment prevention training and reporting resources to certain minors they sign for representation. See Work Permits for Minors.

Background Checks and Testing

  • The FCRA - Summary of Your Rights, required for employment background checks, was updated in September of 2018 to include a notice to consumers about their right to request a security freeze on their credit reports. See Obtaining Applicant and Employee Credit Reports.
  • A new law clarifies the circumstances when an employer is permitted to ask an applicant about criminal convictions that have been expunged, judicially dismissed or ordered sealed. See Restrictions on Obtaining Criminal History.

Personnel Records

  • California law regarding an employee's right to inspect and copy payroll records was amended effective January 1, 2019 to ensure that employers make and provide the copies, and don't require employees to find ways to make the copies themselves. See Access to Payroll Files.
  • Effective January 1, 2019, employers are now protected from defamation lawsuits if they reveal in a job reference whether an individual is not eligible for rehire because the employer determined that he/she engaged in sexual harassment. See Defamation Protection - Harassment Complaints.

Wage and Hour Law

  • The state Department of Industrial Relations recently updated Wage Orders 1 through 13, 15 and 16 to reflect 2019 increases to the minimum wage. See California Wage Orders.
  • Construction industry employees may be prohibited from pursuing a Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) claim if the workers are covered by a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) that meets certain requirements. See Wage and Hour Enforcement and Penalties.

Wages and Salaries

  • California’s minimum wage is now $12 per hour for employers with 26 or more employees and $11 per hour for employers with 25 or fewer employees. See Minimum Wage.
  • A California Court of Appeal has clarified that an employer doesn't have to separately compensate employees for non-productive time in an activity-based compensation system as long as the employer pays an hourly wage for all hours worked. See Minimum Wage.
  • New federal regulations provide that only employees may participate in tip pools and that back-of-house staff may share in tip pools if employers pay all employees at least minimum wage, without credits for any tips received. See Tips and Gratuities.
  • A recent update to the California Labor Commissioner’s website has signaled a change in interpretation, requiring split shift pay to be based on a local minimum wage if it is higher than the statewide minimum wage. See Split Shift Pay.
  • The Social Security wage base limit for 2019 increased to $132,900. See Standard Deductions: Taxes.
  • The meal and lodging credits employers may take against minimum wage increased when the new minimum wage became effective on January 1, 2019. See Meals and Lodging.
  • The IRS standard mileage rates were released for 2019. See Expense Reimbursements.
  • The Labor Code was amended to remove a provision indicating that a direct contractor's liability for unpaid wages or benefits by a subcontractor is in addition to any obligations and remedies otherwise provided by law, and to provide clarity on when disputed payments may be withheld. See Wage and Hour Requirements for Specific Industries.
  • Beginning July 1, 2019, the health and safety curriculum for Board of Barbering and Cosmetology schools must include information on physical and sexual abuse their clients may be experiencing See Wage and Hour Requirements for Specific Industries.
  • Proposition 11 now requires emergency ambulance employees to be provided with certain training, mental health services, and health insurance plans offering long-term mental health services for employees who qualify for or are eligible to receive employer-provided health insurance. See Wage and Hour Requirements for Specific Industries.

Hours of Work and Recording Time Worked

  • The California Supreme Court held that California's labor laws do not allow employees to routinely work for even brief amounts of time off the clock without being paid; California's labor laws require pay for all hours worked. See Preparation Time.
  • The California Supreme Court will review whether store workers should be paid for time they spend undergoing security checks at the end of their shifts. See Security Screenings.

Meal and Rest Breaks

  • The Ninth Circuit court found that a fast food restaurant did not violate California meal break laws when it offered employees a food discount only if the food was eaten on site. See Meal Breaks.
  • A meal period exception now applies to certain commercial drivers who are transporting commercial feed to customers in remote, rural areas. See Meal and Rest Break Exceptions.
  • An extremely limited exception to duty-free rest breaks in the petroleum industry went into effect, allowing employers to require that employees holding safety-sensitive positions at petroleum facilities be on-call and carry instant communication devices during rest periods. See Meal and Rest Break Exceptions.
  • Proposition 11 allows emergency ambulance employees to remain on-call and receive pay during meal and rest breaks. See Meal and Rest Break Exceptions.

Overtime

  • The California Supreme Court recently approved the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement’s method for calculating overtime on nondiscretionary flat-sum bonuses. See Calculating Overtime.
  • Agricultural employers under Wage Order 14 with 26 or employees became subject to the first in a series of phased-in overtime changes. Their agricultural workers will now receive overtime pay after 9.5 hours per day or 55 hours per week. See Overtime Exceptions for Specific Industries.
  • The U.S. Supreme Court overruled California’s Ninth Circuit in a case involving the exempt status of car dealership service advisors. See Overtime Exceptions for Specific Industries.

State Disability Insurance (SDI) and Paid Family Leave (PFL)

  • Beginning January 1, 2021, the PFL wage replacement program will be expanded to include payments for time off for “qualifying exigencies” related to a family member's military service. See Paid Family Leave Defined.

Health and Retirement Benefits

Family, Medical and Parental Leave

  • Beginning January 1, 2021, California's Paid Family Leave (PFL) wage replacement program will be expanded to include benefits to cover time off for qualifying exigencies related to a family member's military service. See Leave for a Qualifying Exigency (FMLA Only).

Pregnancy Disability Leave

Cal/OSHA Requirements and Inspections

  • Federal OSHA announced that it would require all affected employers to electronically submit injury and illness data in the federal OSHA Injury Tracking Application (ITA) online portal. See Cal/OSHA Requirements and Inspections.
  • Pursuant to legislation introduced, passed and signed by the governor, the six-month statute of limitations from the date of a Title 8 violation occurrence by Cal/OSHA no longer exists as related to record-keeping occurrences. See Cal/OSHA Requirements and Inspections.

Drugs and Alcohol

Heat Illness

Violence in the Workplace

Workers’ Compensation

Discrimination

  • Two new California laws were enacted to protect legislative staffers and lobbyists who speak out about sexual harassment and other misconduct. See Whistleblower Protections.
  • California now allows residents to choose from three equally recognized gender options on state issued identification cards, birth certificates and driver's licenses. See Gender, Sex, Gender Identity and Expression.
  • The legislature passed clean up legislation to clarify certain elements of the salary history ban. See Wage Equality - Fair Pay Act.
  • The Ninth Circuit held that under the federal Equal Pay Act, prior salary, whether alone or in combination with other factors, cannot justify a wage differential. See Wage Equality - Fair Pay Act..
  • Employers can now be liable for harassment by nonemployees for harassment on any basis protected under FEHA, not just sexual harassment. See Harassment.
  • California’s Fair Employment and Housing Council has adopted amendments to FEHA regulations that specifically address national origin protections. See National Origin Discrimination.
  • Two new laws require certain employers to provide employee training on human trafficking, including recognizing signs to look for and how to report suspected trafficking. See California Laws Prohibiting Human Trafficking.
  • Employers are prohibited from asking about an applicant’s or employee’s immigration status, or discriminating against an applicant or employee based on immigration status, unless the employer can show by clear and convincing evidence that the employer was doing so to comply with federal immigration law. See Immigrant Workers and Discrimination/Retaliation Protections.
  • A new California law now prohibits confidentiality provisions in settlement agreements where sexual harassment, assault or discrimination has been alleged. See Discrimination Claims and Lawsuits.

Sexual Harassment

  • Existing law was expanded to include elected officials, lobbyists, directors, producers and others in the codified list of those who can be held liable for professional relationship sexual harassment. See Harassment Coverage.
  • Two new California laws were enacted to protect legislative staffers and lobbyists from retaliation when they speak out about sexual harassment and other misconduct. See Harassment Retaliation.
  • Employers can now be liable for harassment by nonemployees on any basis protected under FEHA, not just sexual harassment. See Liability for Sexual Harassment.
  • A new California law makes numerous changes to California's Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) relating to workplace harassment claims. See Sexual Harassment Claims and Lawsuits.
  • Under a new California law, any provision in a contract or settlement agreement will be unenforceable if it prohibits a party to the contract from testifying about criminal conduct or sexual harassment in an administrative, legislative or judicial proceeding. See Sexual Harassment Claims and Lawsuits.
  • Another new California law prohibits confidentiality provisions in settlement agreements where sexual harassment, assault or discrimination has been alleged. See Sexual Harassment Claims and Lawsuits.
  • Talent agencies are now required to provide sexual harassment prevention training and reporting resources to artists they sign for representation. See Effective Harassment Prevention.
  • Under a new amendment to California's Civil Code, California employers and victims of sexual harassment are now better protected from liability for defamation by an alleged harasser after a complaint of sexual harassment has been made. See Defamation Protection After Harassment Complaint.
  • By January 1, 2020, employers with five or more employees must provide one hour of sexual harassment prevention training to nonsupervisory employees and two hours of such training to supervisors, and additional training is required every two years after that. See Mandatory Harassment Prevention Training.

Disabilities in the Workplace

  • A California school district paid a settlement of more than $200,000 to a teacher because the district failed to engage in an effective interactive process to provide reasonable accommodation for her disability. See Interactive Process for Reasonable Accommodations.

Disciplining and Terminating At-Will Employees

  • Effective January 1, 2019, employers are now protected from defamation lawsuits if they reveal in a job reference whether an individual is not eligible for rehire because the employer determined that he/she engaged in sexual harassment. See Providing References for Former Employees.

Labor Relations in Private Employment

  • The issue of how to define “joint employer” under the NLRA has been the subject of recent legal debate. See Covered Employers.
  • The Supreme Court ruled that class action waivers contained in employment arbitration agreements do not violate the NLRA. See Arbitration Agreements.

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