2014 California Labor Law Updates, Part 1

2014 California Labor LawsEach year, the California legislature passes new employment laws, or updates existing laws, that directly impact the way employers do business in the state. 2014 was no exception. Dozens of new regulations are effective on January 1, 2014, with others going into effect later in the year.

In this, the first of a 2-part series, we highlight key legislation impacting Wage & Hour laws, and Leaves & Benefits.

WAGE AND HOUR

AB 10 – Minimum Wage

AB 10 increases the minimum wage in California by two $1 increases. Effective on July 1, 2014, the new minimum wage will be increased to $9 per hour, and on January 1st, 2016 it will be raised an additional dollar to $10 per hour.  The law requires employers to give notice to their employees 7 days prior to the effective date via a pay notice or other written notice.

AB 241 – Domestic Work Employees

This law provides specific overtime compensation for certain “in-house” employees. By definition, this employee must be a “domestic work employee who is a personal attendant.” It does not include casual babysitters. Many definitions and exclusions are included in the law, so those with “in-house” assistance are advised to carefully review the application of the legislation.

Federally, the U.S. Department of Labor declared new rules on personal attendants which will take effect January 1st, 2015 while the California law goes into effect on January 1st, 2014.

SB 435 – Meal and Rest Periods – Expansion to Heat Illness Recovery Periods

This law acts as an expansion to the current meal and rest-break law that gives employees a “recovery” period in order to protect them from heat illness. An employer cannot require an employee to work during this recovery period; this is mandated by state law under Cal/OSHA’s heat illness standard.

Employees working in outdoor environments are subject to Cal/OSHA’s heat illness standard which grants workers cool-down periods. These periods are for a minimum of 5 minutes per time, on an “as-needed.”

AB 442 – Damages for Minimum Wage Violations

AB 422 expands employer penalties issued by the Labor Commissioner for failing to pay minimum wage. For all violations, employers will be required to pay liquidated damages to the employees in addition to the existing penalties. “Liquidated damages” is financial compensation awarded to an employee for a loss or injury resulting from the employer’s failure to pay the minimum wage.

 

LEAVES AND BENEFITS

sB 288, SB 400 and AB 11 relate to permissible time-off of work under specific circumstances.

SB 228 allows employees to appear in court proceedings for specific crimes, such as solicitation for murder and vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated. Violations of the law will be enforced by the Labor Commissioner and employees must comply with requirements for requesting the leave.

SB 400 expands existing protections for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and victims of stalking. These protections include taking time off to appear at legal proceedings and to seek medical/psychological treatment including safety planning (only for employers with 25 or more employees). SB 400 also adds a new reasonable accommodation under this statute that may include implementation of safety measures for these types of victims.

AB 11 requires an employer with 50 or more employees to provide a temporary leave of absence of up to 14 days per year for reserve peace officers and emergency rescue personnel to receive training. The current law allows training leave of absences for volunteer firefighters only.

In our next post covering 2014 California labor laws, we will cover Discrimination, Retaliation and Immigration Protections.