Important Employment Law Updates for 2019

We know it’s a pain, but the law is ever changing. Read on to discover important employment law updates for this year.  By reading this article and implementing any necessary changes, you’re well on your way to a compliant 2019!

Hiring Employees

Minimum Wage

Perhaps the most important update is the minimum wage increase, which affects both hourly and salaried employees and differs at the federal, state, and local levels.  Sounds scary, but don’t worry, we’ve dedicated an entire article to this topic.

Below are more specific, legal updates regarding hiring employees that you should be aware of.

Equal Pay and Salary History

Because California expanded its equal pay law, it is now unlawful for an employer to pay employees engaged in “substantially similar” work different amounts based on the employee’s gender, race, or ethnicity.  Also, employers cannot suppress wage discussions amongst employees.  Lastly, the law requires employers to maintain records of employee wages and job classifications for at least three years.

Moreover, a new bill prohibits prospective employers from asking about potential employees salary history (as discussed above). This is so that employers can’t use questions about salary history during the hiring process to justify salary discrepancies between men and women upon hiring.

We have dedicated more detail to this topic at the end of this resource article.

“Ban the Box”

The state of California is taking the cue from cities like Los Angeles and New York City to implement “ban-the-box.” This is an international campaign by civil rights groups and advocates for ex-offenders, aimed at persuading employers to remove from their hiring applications the checkbox that asks if applicants have a criminal record. Effective January 1, 2018, this new regulation, also referred to as the “Fair Chance Initiative,” imposes strict requirements on how and when employers can obtain criminal history information.  More on this here.

New York
Salary History

Echoing the California statute mentioned above, New York also prohibits employers from asking job candidates about their salary history in an effort to reduce wage discrimination between men and women.  Again, you can read more about this here.

“Ban the box”

New York City also implemented the ban on inquiries into former criminal history disclosure (a.k.a. “ban the box”) before California and more on this movement can be found here.

Running Your Business

Paid Family Leave

Family leave in California is… shall we say…  confusing.  Whether you are an employer or an employee, there are several nuances, rules, and paperwork requirements to keep track of when any sort of family leave is needed.  But fear not because we are here to help!  It is imperative to read our article thoroughly because “family leave” encompass maternity “disability” leave, familial “bonding” time with a new child, and time off to handle a serious medical condition.

Sexual Harassment Training & Transgender Rights

Employers with 50 or more employees must provide sexual harassment training for every employee with “supervisory authority.” This 2-hour training must occur every 2 years and must include information and practical guidance regarding federal and state sexual harassment laws, including harassment prevention and correction, and remedies available to victims.

Additionally, the bill requires each employer to post a notice developed by the Department of Fair Employment and Housing regarding transgender rights in a prominent and accessible location in the workplace.

Immigration worksite enforcement

As a sanctuary state, California has implemented new regulations to protect its workforce. This new law, which is effective January 1, 2018, requires employers to verify that immigration officials have a judicial warrant or subpoena prior to entering the workplace and for employers to provide notice to employees if there has been a request to review the employer’s immigration documents, such as Form I-9s.

One of the key parts of this new bill is that employers cannot provide voluntary consent to an immigration enforcement agent to “access, review, or obtain the employer’s employee records without a subpoena or judicial warrant.”

New York
Protected Time Off: Family Leave

Starting January 1, 2018, the New York State Paid Family Leave Program will provide New Yorkers job-protected, paid leave of 8 weeks to bond with a new child, care for a loved one with a serious health condition, or to help relieve family pressures when someone is called to active military service. More information on this here.

We know, there’s a lot of law here.  But try not to worry — it really all boils down to implementing a few best practices.  We are always here to help draft and/or update your employee handbook to ensure compliance. We also recommend getting an updated set of required employment notices each year.  Until the next round of legal updates!

Revised by: Zachary Avina – 10/23/18

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