February 11th, 2015

New Employment Laws For 2015

Each year, employers can expect a new slate of laws that impose requirements and potential exposure. Here is a sampling of some important new laws affecting employers in 2015.

AB 1522: Paid Sick Leave

AB 1522, also referred to as the “Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014,” requires employers to provide paid sick leave benefits to their employees, including all full-time, part-time and temporary/ seasonal employees, effective July 1, 2015. Employers must provide paid sick leave to such employees if they work 30 or more days within a year from the commencement of employment. Employees will accrue paid sick days at a rate of at least one hour for every 30 hours worked. Employers may limit the employee’s annual use of paid sick leave benefits to 24 hours or 3 days per year, and cap the accrual of paid sick leave to 48 hours or 6 days per year. Paid sick leave begins accruing on the date of hire, and it may be used starting on the 90th day of employment.

Employers who already have a paid sick leave policy or paid time off (PTO) policy in place are not required to provide additional sick days if their current policies satisfy the requirements of the new law.

With the enactment of AB 1522, employers should start implementing systems for tracking the accrual and usage of employee paid sick leave. Those with sick leave and PTO policies already in place should review those policies to ensure that they comply with the requirements of the new law.

AB 1897: Joint Responsibility For Workers Supplied By A Labor Contractor

Under AB 1897, which takes effect on January 1, 2015, a client employer will share legal responsibility for the payment of wages and the failure to obtain workers’ compensation coverage as to workers supplied by a labor contractor. A “client employer” is defined as a business entity that obtains or is provided workers to perform labor within its usual course of business from a labor contractor. However, the definition does not include business entities with a workforce of less than 25 workers (including those hired directly by the client employer and those provided by a labor contractor) or businesses with 5 or fewer workers supplied by a labor contractor at any given time.

The new law makes the client employer jointly liable with the labor contractor for non-payment of wages and/or failure to provide workers’ compensation coverage. However, both client employers and labor contractors are permitted to include indemnification provisions in their service contracts as a remedy for liability created by acts of the other party.

In light of AB 1897, employers who have a workforce comprised of workers supplied by a labor contractor must take steps to ensure that the labor contractor is paying the workers properly and has obtained adequate workers’ compensation insurance. For starters, this should consist of payroll audits by the client employer, as well as including strong indemnification language in the service agreement with the labor contractor.

AB 2053: New Training Requirement For Workplace Bullying

AB 2053 modifies existing law that requires employers who employ 50 or more employees to provide 2 hours of sexual harassment prevention training to supervisors every 2 years. According to AB 2053, effective January 1, 2015, employers subject to the mandatory sexual harassment prevention training requirement for supervisors must also include a component on the prevention of “abusive conduct” as part of the training. “Abusive conduct” is defined as 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.

The new law does not create a legal right to sue for abusive conduct in the workplace, unless the conduct constitutes discrimination or harassment based on a protected class, such as race, gender or disability. However, covered employers should review their sexual harassment prevention training programs to ensure that the topic of workplace bullying is covered in 2015, and policies regarding unlawful harassment in the workplace should be updated accordingly.

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