3 Recent Major Changes In California Employment Law

Law Blog

If you own a business in California, then it is important to know that there have been 30 new employment laws introduced in the state this year. Most of these laws have been in force since Jan. 1, 2017, so if you haven't yet taken steps to implement any changes to your business needed to comply with them, it is important to do so quickly. While some only affect specific industries, there are several that affect all business owners. Read on to learn about three of the new laws that every business owner needs to know. 

1. All Forms of In-Office Smoking Now Outlawed

Since the original smoke-free workplace laws were implemented in California, alternative forms of smoking have become popular that the cigarette laws did not formally address. Some employers have been allowing the use of electronic cigarettes in the workplace, since they do not produce second-hand smoke and contain no tobacco. 

However, new employment law SB 5 prohibits the use of all smoking devices in workplaces, including electronic cigarettes. In addition, it also prohibits employers from allowing smoking in vented workplace break rooms. 

If you currently allow employees to use electronic cigarettes in the office or smoke in ventilated break rooms, then it is important to enforce the new law in your business. 

2. New Employees Must Be Informed of New Discrimination Rights

While new California employment law AB 2337 has been in effect since Jan. 1, it won't be enforced until the State Labor Department posts it formally on their website, which could happen any time between now and July 1, 2017. This law requires all California employers to notify new employees of their rights against discrimination based on being the victims of sexual assault, stalking, and/or domestic violence. 

This law requires all employers to allow the victims to take time off work when needed to protect themselves from their abusers without the threat of being fired or other workplace retaliation. 

It is important to add this notice to your employee handbook and make sure every employee reads and understands this right. 

3. Equal Pay Must Be Provided Regardless of an Employee's Salary History

While you likely ensure you don't take an employee's gender or race into consideration when deciding how much to pay them, two new California employment laws make it more important than ever to ensure that employees are compensated fairly. New California employment laws AB 1676 and SB 1063 both address workplace equality in pay. Law SB 1063 requires all employers to pay employees performing similar work the same salary, regardless of their race or gender. Law AB 1676 further states that the fact that an employee may have been compensated less at a prior job does not make them an exception to the equal pay law. 

If you own or manage a business in California, then it is important to understand all of the new California employment laws that have been introduced this year and make sure you follow them. If you need guidance deciding which laws affect your business and/or how to implement them, consult an employment attorney who can help you understand them. 


15 May 2017