With 2017 in the books, it's time to welcome in the new year, and with it comes a new set of labor laws affecting workers in California workers. This year, there are several important changes that California employees need to be aware of. For your knowledge and convenience, we've taken the time in this post to outline some key changes workers should expect.
Employers are prohibited from inquiring about salary history
Starting in 2018, Assembly Bill 168 dictates that employers in both the public and the private sector in California are prohibited from asking applicants about the salary they earned at their prior job and are prohibited from using this information as a factor in deciding whether or not to hire an applicant. Applicants may disclose this information if they choose, but it is not required and cannot be used as a deciding factor even if they choose to disclose it. In addition to this, the bill also dictates that employers must disclose the pay scale of a position if requested by the applicant.
Usage of criminal conviction records will be limited
Employers in California with more than five employees are now prohibited from asking about an applicant's criminal history prior to offering the applicant a position. Effective January 1st, there are also new rules about what employers can and can't do regarding conviction records even after a position has been offered. When conducting a background check after a position has been offered to an applicant, employers may not consider or distribute information regarding arrests that are not followed by a conviction, convictions that have been sealed or expunged, or referrals to participate in a post-trial or pre-trial program.
Discrimination against service members will be prohibited
If you are a current or former member of the military, you have some new employee protections starting in 2018. While a lot of protection against discrimination for service members is already provided under California law, these protections will be expanded to prohibit discrimination against current members of the military and veterans in regard to their "terms, conditions or privileges" of employment.
Investigations into retaliation complaints will be made easier
Under current California law, the Labor Commissioner is permitted to begin an investigation into retaliation complaints only after they have received an employee complaint. Starting in 2018, though, the Labor Commissioner may begin an investigation into retaliation complaints if misconduct is expected regardless of whether or not an employee has delivered a complaint to them. This new law will allow the Labor Commissioner to open an investigation into employer retaliation if they find evidence of it occurring while working on another, unrelated investigation.
Parental baby bonding leave protections will be expanded
Currently, parental baby bonding leave is only required of larger companies in California. Starting in 2018, though, employees of smaller companies will have access to this right as well. Senate Bill 63 dictates that any company with 20 or more employees must offer up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected parental leave to parents within one year of them having, adopting, or fostering a child, provided the employee has more than 12 months of service. This leave is designed to give new parents the opportunity to bond with their children.
2018 looks to be an exciting year for a number of reasons, including the expansion of several important protections and rights for employees in California. If you have any concerns about the way your employer is following these new laws, we urge you to contact us today.