• Brooke Winter

2020 is HERE! Are you ready?

The legislative year closed so let's review a few employment laws California employers need to be aware of going into 2020.

Worker Classification - AB 5

Also know as the “gig worker bill” requires companies that hire independent contractors to reclassify them as employees with a few exceptions (key word being FEW). Here are the exemptions:

  • Doctors, surgeons, dentists, podiatrists, psychologists, or veterinarians performing professional or medical services provided to or by a health care entity;

  • Lawyers, insurance brokers, architects, engineers, private investigators, or accountants;

  • Securities brokers/dealers or investment advisers and their agents and representatives that are registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority or the State of California;

  • Real estate agents, repossession agencies, direct-sales persons, commercial fishermen;

  • Individuals performing services under a contract with a licensed “motor club.”

There are also professional services exemptions, referral agency exemption, construction industry exemption, and “business-to-business”. There are very specific requirements for each of these exemptions so don’t believe on-size-fits-all for these exemptions.

Best practice: if you are going to classify any more as an independent contractor, you need to see legal advice from a trusted attorney.

Ban on No-Rehire Provisions in Settlement Agreements – AB 749

This law applies to employees who have filed a claim against an employer in court, before an administrative agency (example: EEOC), in a dispute resolution forum, OR through the employer’s complaint process (example: Human Resources).

If an employee has filed a claim or complained using an internal process, and the employee and employer reach a severance agreement, employers cannot place a no-hire provision in the severance agreement. The only exception to this would be if the employee has been involved in sexual harassment or sexual assault.

Lactation Accommodations – SB 142

This law expands on the previous provisions for lactation accommodations. This bill mandates employers to provide a lactation room or location, not a bathroom, that:

  1. Is in close proximity to the employee’s work area;

  2. Shielded from view;

  3. Free from intrusion while the employee is expressing milk;

  4. Safe, clean and free of hazardous materials;

  5. Contains a surface to place a breast pump and personal items;

  6. Contains a place to sit;

  7. Has access to electricity; and,

  8. The employer must provide access to a sink with running water and a refrigerator for storing milk in close proximity to the employee’s working space

Additionally, employers need to implement a lactation policy- which means handbooks need to be updated! There a specific requirements that this policy must meet so make sure you follow-up with your Human Resources Manager.

However, the good news for small businesses is that employers with 50 or less employees have an opportunity to prove that this law would impose an undue hardship which might result in an exemption from this law’s requirements.

Hairstyle Discrimination – SB 188

Did you ever think we would be talking about hairstyles in an HR blog? Well, folks, we are!

The CROWN Act expands the Fair Employment and Housing Act’s definition of race to include traits (such as hairstyles) associated with race. The bill defines “protective hairstyles” as “braids, locks, and twits.” The law prohibits workplace dress code and grooming policies that prohibit natural hair, including afros, braids, twists and locks. So, once again, check those policies and update your handbook!

Arbitration Agreements Fees & Costs – SB 707

If employers fail to pay costs and fess associated with arbitration within 30 days of the due date would cause a breach of the arbitration agreement which would waive the right to compel or force arbitration. The bill also states the employee would be able to withdraw their claim from arbitration and prosecute their claim in court. Bottom line: pay your bill on time.

CCPA affects employers and recruiters – AB 25

Under the CCPA, a “consumer” is defined broadly as a natural person who is a California resident. Assembly Bill 25, signed into law on October 11, 2019, provides a temporary and limited reprieve for employee data by establishing an exemption to the CCPA’s requirements to provide rights of access, correction and opt-out of sale of personal information for California residents who are job applicants, employees, owners, directors, officers, medical staff or contractors (collectively, “employees”). The exemption applies only to the extent that an employee’s personal information is collected and used solely within the context of such individual’s role as an employee and only until December 31, 2020.

So what do employers need to do? If you have employees in California, you should adopt a privacy notice that complies with AB 25. The limited exemption under AB 25 will be valid for only one year and expires on January 1, 2021. After the expiration of the exemption, companies will be subject to the full requirements of the CCPA with respect to employee data.

Sexual Harassment Training – SB 778

We knew this was coming: all employers with five or more employees to provide two hours of sexual harassment training to supervisory staff and one hour of such training to non-supervisory staff within six months of hire or promotion into a supervisory role, and every two years after that, from January 1, 2020 to January 1, 2021.

Flexible Spending Accounts – AB 1554

Employers need to notify employees who participate in flexible spending accounts of any deadline to withdraw funds before the plan year’s end in two different prescribed forms, which may include email, telephone, text message, postal mail and in-person notification.

*Disclaimer: The materials available on this web site are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. You should contact your attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem.