As the New Year comes upon us so do many changes in the law.  Specifically, there are six new employment laws that employers should pay attention to and consider updates to company policies and handbooks.

New California Employment Laws

New California Employment Laws For 2017

California Fair Pay Act

In January 2016 California’s Fair Pay Act, also known as the wage differential labor law, was considered the most thorough and comprehensive law in the country covering equal pay for both genders and regulates wage discrimination in the workplace based on gender.  The Fair Pay Act requires equal pay for employees that perform “substantially similar work, when viewed as a composite of skill, effort, and responsibility”.  In January 2017 California’s Fair Pay Act will be expanded to include protection for not only both genders but all races and ethnicity.

Wage Discrimination

Labor Code AB 1676 referred to as California’s law governing wage discrimination is an extension of California’s Fair Pay Act and will help eliminate wage discrimination in the workplace.  As of January 2017 the Labor Code has been amended to indicate that “prior salary shall not, by itself, justify any disparity in compensation.”  This amendment modifies the code to prohibit employers from obtaining a potential employee’s prior salary information and from considering the prior salary if it is aware of it.

Immigration Documents

Beginning January 2017 employers will be mandated to accept the same identification documents that are required under federal law and are prohibited from requesting additional or different identification documents.  Additionally the Labor Code will prohibit employers from refusing to honor identification documents or work authorizations based upon a specific status.  The Labor Code significantly expands the current law that prohibits asking for additional documents for retaliatory reasons, which should help regulate the hiring process and expand the protections provided by federal law. .

Criminal History Disclosure

Starting January 2017 employers will be prohibited from asking potential employees about their juvenile criminal history including any arrests, convictions or other court proceedings that may have occurred while the potential employee was a minor.  Further should the employer become aware of any such juvenile criminal history they are prohibited from considering that information in the hiring or evaluation process.

Domestic Violence Protection

The California Division of Labor Standard Enforcement (DLSE) has protection for individuals experiencing domestic violence.  The existing law provides victims of domestic violence, stalking or sexual assault protected time off from work without risk of termination or repercussions.  Recent studies have shown many employees do not come forward to use the available protection for fear of losing their jobs.  As such, the DLSE will be implementing a new law that requires employers with twenty-five or more employees provide written notice of California’s domestic violence protections.  The DLSE will provide all employers with a flyer by July 1, 2017.

Minimum Wage Increase

Beginning January 2017 the minimum wage for companies with twenty-six or more employees will increase to $10.00 per hour to $10.50 per hour.

As this year comes to an end reviewing your company handbook and policies should be a priority with the various new federal and state laws coming into effect in January.  Should you require assistance drafting or implementing the multiple new labor laws, please contact Goldbach Law Group.

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