Several new laws took effect on January 1, 2018 in the state of California. These state labor laws strengthen employees’ and job seekers’ rights.
In addition to a minimum wage increase, California’s labor laws changed to include protections for a wide group of individuals. This includes new parents, immigrant workers, workers with criminal histories, and general protection for all workers from harassment and unfair compensation practices.
New Parent Leave Act
If you work for a law firm or other business with more than 20 employees, you will now have the protections offered by the New Parent Leave Act. This new law provides employees with the right to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid time off. This time must be taken in the first year after the birth, adoption or foster placement of a child.
If you elect to use this time off, rest assured you will return to the same or similar role. Your employer must also continue your group health coverage while you are away.
Immigrant Worker Protection Act
Employers in California are now also subject to the Immigrant Worker Protection Act. Under the Act, employers are prohibited from allowing immigration officials to access, review or obtain employee records without a court order.
In addition, employers must notify workers within 72 hours of receiving notice of any inspections of I-9 Forms or other employment records.
If the results of a federal inspection might affect your employment status, your employer must provide a copy of the results. Also, immigration enforcement officials cannot access non-public areas of the workplace without judicial action.
“Ban the Box” Criminal History Law
California already had a “ban the box” law prior to 2018. This prohibits employers from asking job applicants about arrests when those arrests didn’t result in a conviction. On January 1, protection for applicants was strengthened even more when The California Fair Chance Act took effect.
Under the new law, businesses with at least five employees cannot include criminal history questions on job applications. They also cannot consider criminal history before making conditional job offers.
If you have criminal activity on your record, your prospective employer must determine whether that criminal history is related to the job you applied to. The law also now gives you an opportunity to respond and challenge an employer’s decision not to hire you because of criminal activity in your past.
Expanded Harassment Training
SB 396 requires employers with 50 or more employees to expand their existing harassment training programs by including training about harassment based on sexual identity, gender orientation and gender expression.
In addition, employers with at least five employees must post an additional workplace poster about transgender rights.
These measures aim to further protect all workers from harassment.
Restrictions on Asking About Salary History
Finally, under AB 168, California law also now prohibits employers from asking a job applicant about his or her prior compensation or benefits, either directly or through an agency or recruiter. Employers cannot consider salary history when making determinations about hiring or compensating new employees.
However, if a potential employee voluntarily discloses their salary history, the employer may use it when making hiring/compensation decisions.
You also have the right as a prospective employee to receive the pay scale for the position you’re applying for, upon request. This new law is designed to help reduce pay inequality between men and women.
Download our free white paper, “The Perils of Asking for Prior Pay: Navigating Salary-History Legislation” to learn more about how AB 168 could impact California employers.
Each of these new laws is expected to protect the rights of California employees and job-seekers. To learn more and to find out how Special Counsel can help you find your next legal position, contact us today.
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