California Regulatory Compliance 2020: Know the Latest Legal Compliance Changes in California

Industry:HR Compliance       Added By:Admin       Posted On:Jan. 6, 2020


Getting attuned to the latest California regulatory compliance recent changes in the employment sector of California is noteworthy and exciting. Why? Because, California is seen as one of the few states in the US that provides the best facilities to its employees, even when it comes to working in the private sector, be its legalization of recreational marijuana at the workplace or the equality issues concerning the LGBTQ employees. California writes its laws providing every possible facility for its employees, despite the federal law denying the legalization of these laws, some of which are discussed below. This blog provides a glimpse of the recent legal changes among various areas of employment that has occurred in past years, and what is the latest update that you can look forward to seeing in 2020.

Sexual Harassment at the workplace

Visual, verbal, physical, etc., are some of the forms of sexual harassment that are objectified under the category of sexual harassment under the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) and imposes multiple penalties on the harasser that can even lead to many years of imprisonment. 

By January 1, 2021, the DFEH makes it mandatory for all the employers having 5 employees or more to conduct at least 2 hours of classroom training and educational program on sexual harassment to all its employees under supervisory employees, and at least one hour of classroom or another effective interactive training program to all its employees under nonsupervisory employees. This training must be provided every two years.

The current AB 9 rule, which is also known as Stop Harassment and Reporting Extention (SHARE) Act under DFEH, prohibits any form of discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, color, disability, and allows to file a verified complaint within a year from the day of the occurrence. However, with the recent amendment in the law, the period to file any sort of harassment complaint has been extended from one year to a period of three years, which will be effective latest by 2020.

Meal and rest periods at the workplace

For a non-exempt worker, a good 30-minute duty-free, uninterrupted break is provided for working more than 5 hours a day, while an extra 10-minute duty-free rest break for every 4 hours of your work. This is under the requirement of California meal break law which is considered to be more generous when compared to the federal labor law. 

In another case, if your employer does not comply with the break requirements then you are liable for a regular pay of one extra hour for each day a meal violation occurred, and another extra hour of regular pay for each day when a rest break violation occurred.

Marijuana legalization at the workplace

The Federal Law considers the usage of marijuana at the workplace as illegal and doesn't have any law bindings that promote its utilization even under medical situations or as recreational marijuana. However, the Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA) provides relaxation to marijuana usage for medicinal purposes or to an employee who has prescribed dosage marijuana solely for medical reasons. This means an employee in California can use marijuana when they are at work, only if they hold a valid prescription determining the use of medical marijuana at work. This is the zero-tolerance policy wherein the Californian employers cannot make an exception to accommodate its medical use.

The drug testing for marijuana often comes in with other legal pre-requisites before hiring any employee and also considering its impact at the workplace. California allows a "suspicionless" pre-employment drug testing after the candidate has got the job offer. Based on the level or degree of impairment the drug has caused, even in the cases of medical and recreational marijuana consumption, the employers hold the right to terminate their employment considering the zero-tolerance policy associated with conditional usage of the drug. 

Compliance on Paid Sick Leaves 

The paid sick leaves are granted to employees if they or their family members need medical attention to treat their medical conditions. Based on the two methods of accrual, the employees can choose between incremental and frontloading. Incremental accrual is provided considering the number of hours worked, while frontloading is the employer providing the number of hours in one lump-some. As per the old law, employers who have 50 or more employees and are large employers, can grant sick leaves to the employees, but the new law allows the small employers (having less than 50 employees) to provide sick leaves to its employees. 

As per the Healthy Families Act of 2014, employees who have worked for at least 30 days in a year are eligible to opt for paid sick leave. Employers can also limit the use of sick leaves to 24 hours or 3 days per year. Employers can also require employees to take sick leave in at least two-hour increments, but not more. 

Difference between Paid Time Off and vacation leaves

While Paid Time Off (PTO) and vacation leaves are used interchangeably, they are usually not the same. PTO is a wider concept which has vacation leaves as its subset. PTO amounts to the leaves that are usually paid and can be utilized by the employees according to different policies that the states have, as the federal law doesn't specify any particular policy for PTO. These policies also differ from employer-to-employer. 

Considering the vacation leaves, employees have the discretion to apply for the paid leaves whenever they want, provided, they present a reasonable notice to their employer about the schedule they will be away from work and the day they will be commencing their work. However, pregnancy/maternity leaves, jury duty, holiday pay, or sick leave, disability leave, etc., are not considered as vacation leaves, but they can be claimed under the policies confiding to PTO, as vacation leaves tend to have different terms and conditions stated in the policy. It is the employer's responsibility to carefully recognize the difference between PTO and vacation leaves as well as learn how their state treats vacation leaves, before drafting the PTO and vacation leaves policy.

Updates on CCPA 2020 and California Employment Law 2020

The new California Consumer Protection Act (CCPA) has been the most debated and anticipated law that went into effect on January 1, 2020. The law implies a transparent process that will now enable the consumer to have direct authority and control over their data and to the list that the data is being shared with. The law gives direct authority to the consumers to sue the company if they feel that their rights have been violated despite the existent breaches. 

The bill was passed in late June 2018 and has come into effect from January 1, 2020, however, it might take more than a year for the process to come into effect. Considering this, California has made its protection policy for its residents, activating a grace period of six months, where the employers will have the idea to work on the principles of the law and not paying any fines for honest mistakes, and detecting bugs in the process before it advances to huge trouble.