Between mandatory notices, new minimum wage requirements, and the new laws signed by Jerry Brown, California employers have quite a few items to add to their to-do list in the coming weeks.
Reports, Notices, and Forms:
- Distribute Summary Annual Report for a calendar year plan to plan participants. If an extension was filed for Form 5500, it must be done by December 15th, 2017.
- For calendar year plans, distribute the annual Women’s Health and Cancer Rights Act Notice and the Children’s Health Insurance Program premium assistance notice if they were not previously distributed this year during open enrollment or in new hire paperwork. Both must be done by December 31st, 2017.
- Provide Forms 1095-C and 1095-B (if applicable) to employees by January 31st, 2018. This applies to employers who are self-funded and/or subject to the ACA employer mandate.
- Provide Forms W-2, which may include the following: the cost of group health coverage (for employers that were required to issue 250 or more 2016 W-2s); imputed income arising from excess group term life insurance, some LTD programs, and domestic partner coverage; and HSA contributions. Must be provided to employees by January 31st, 2018.
Minimum Wage Requirements:
As California continues its trajectory towards $15.00 minimum wage by the year 2022, another wage hike goes into effect on January 1, 2018. Small businesses with 25 or fewer employees had a one-year delay and will see their first increase on January 1st, moving to $10.50 an hour, while large businesses with over 26 employees will raise wages to $11.00 per hour.
The January 1st increase in minimum wage will not affect certain cities and counties that are already at a rate higher than the state minimum, including but not limited to Los Angeles, Pasadena, Santa Monica, Emeryville, and San Francisco. San Jose, Cupertino, and Palo Alto will see a separate rate hike on the first of January for $13.50 an hour. Local Ordinances regarding specific minimum wage information can be found on the Cal Chamber website.
Several of Jerry Brown’s recently signed bills regarding hiring practices will go into effect on January 1st, 2018.
AB 168: prohibits employers from seeking salary history information about an applicant for employment in any way, whether orally or in writing, personally or through an agent or associate. The term “salary history information” includes any type of compensation from hourly wages, to yearly bonuses and benefits. Employers also are banned from seeking the information through an agent, such as a third-party recruiter. AB 168 further requires an employer to provide a job applicant, upon reasonable request, with the pay scale for the position.
AB 1008: the “ban-the-box” legislation prohibits most private and public employers with five or more employees from asking applicants about their criminal convictions history before a conditional offer of employment has been made. If an employer wants to deny an applicant the position after reviewing the conviction history, they must make an individualized assessment and provide the applicant with an opportunity to respond before making a final decision. AB 1008 also repeals existing Labor Code Section 432.9 (which only applied to public employers) and adds a new provision to the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) to apply to both public and private employers.
Labor Protections and Enforcement:
AB 450: prohibits employers from providing federal immigration enforcement agents access to nonpublic areas of a business without a judicial warrant, or providing agents access to employee records without a subpoena or judicial warrant. Also known as The Immigrant Worker Protection Act, it’s part of a package of bills the governor signed to create a “sanctuary state” and provide workers with protection from immigration enforcement while on the job. AB 450 also makes it unlawful for employers to re-verify the employment eligibility of current employees in a time or manner not allowed by federal employment eligibility verification laws, with an additional state civil penalty of up to $10,000.
(This prohibition does not apply to Form I-9 or other documents for which a Notice of Inspection was provided to the employer. However, employers must follow specific requirements related to these form inspections.)
The Form I-9 inspections requirements under AB 450 are as follows:
- Post a notice to all current employees informing them of any federal immigration agency’s inspections of Forms I-9 or other employment records within 72 hours of receiving Notice of Inspection. (The notice must contain specific information about the inspection and be posted in the language normally used to communicate employment-related information and must also be given to the collective bargaining representative, if any.) Employers must comply with this posting requirement beginning January 1, 2018, even though the Labor Commissioner has until July 1, 2018, to create a model posting template.
- Provide a copy of the federal Notice of Inspection to an affected employee upon reasonable request.
- Give each affected employee and the employee’s collective bargaining representative a copy of the inspection results with specific information included, and a written notice of the employer’s and employee’s obligations arising from the inspection within 72 hours of receiving the results.
SB 63: requires California small businesses to offer workers up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected family leave to bond with a new baby or child. This new law extends employee parental leave protections to employers with 20 or more workers. (The previous parental leave law only applied to employers with 50 or more workers.) SB 63 also impacts worksites with fewer than 20 employees, because multiple locations in a 75-mile radius owned by the same employer are combined to determine the total employee threshold.
SB 306: is an anti-retaliation law under which employers can be forced to reinstate an employee and allow them to work while under litigation for retaliation claims. SB 306 also allows the Labor Commissioner to commence an investigation into alleged retaliation, “with or without receiving a complaint,” in cases where suspected retaliation has occurred during adjudication of a wage claim, during a field inspection, or in instances of suspected immigration-related threats.
AB 1701: increases liability for contractors, imposing liability onto the general contractor for any unpaid wages, benefits or contributions that a subcontractor owes to a laborer who performed work under the contract. Effective January 1st, 2018 general contractor are authorized to request payroll records from subcontractors to confirm that wages and other benefits or contributions are being made.
SB 490: Specifically pertains to barbering and cosmetology, and clarifies that workers licensed under the Barbering and Cosmetology Act (BCA) can agree to a percentage or flat-sum commission in addition to a base hourly rate if certain conditions are met.
In addition, several new laws focus on gender equality and gender identity/gender expression protections. These laws include updated requirements for sexual harassment prevention training, Fair Pay Act expansion, sexual orientation data collection, and increases in retaliation fines.
Employers should meet with their HR Manager or HR Outsourcing team to ensure that they are compliant through 2017 and into the new year. Stay tuned to the Emplicity Blog for more updates on labor laws in California.
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