Know the 2019 human resources laws

Paul Sethi
Paul Sethi

California is always at the forefront of the labor legislation impacting businesses of all sizes. These laws were implemented as of Jan. 1, 2019.

Assembly Bill 1343 expands the anti-harassment training requirements to businesses with five or more employees; the requirement was previously applied to businesses with 50 employees or more. This training compliance is to be completed by Jan. 1, 2021, which was changed from Jan. 1, 2020.

In Assembly Bill 2034, employers in industries like transportation and hospitality must provide employees at least 20 minutes of training on how to recognize the signs of human trafficking and report on suspected human traffickers.

Assembly Bill 1976 makes state lactation accommodation law consistent with federal law, which grants workers break time to express milk in a place other than bathrooms.

Senate Bill 826 requires that publicly traded companies must appoint one woman to their board of directors by the end of 2019.

Senate Bill 1412 tightens rules against employers asking an applicant about a prior criminal conviction unless the employer whose job require, for security reasons, that employees disclose prior convictions. Even these employers will be limited to ask only about relevant “particular conviction.”

According to Senate Bill 1300, under the Fair Employment and Housing Act, an employer may be responsible for the acts of non-employees, with respect to sexual harassment or employees and other specified persons. Typical example would be Realtors working under a broker as non-employees. SB 1300 also prohibits an employer from requiring that an employee sign a non-disparagement agreement, confidentiality agreement or any other document denying the employee the right to disclose information about unlawful acts in the workplace, including sexual harassment. SB 1300 also makes it unlawful for an employer to require an employee to waive FEHA rights in exchange for a raise or bonus or as a condition of employment unless the release is a voluntarily negotiated settlement agreement filed by an employee in court or an alternative dispute resolution forum, before an administrative agency, or through an employer’s internal complaint process.

Other important laws that impact most businesses:

Minimum wage for 2019 is $11 for employers with 25 or less employees and $12 for employers with 26 or more employees. Minimum wage for 2020 is $12 for employers with 25 or less employees and $13 for employers with 26 or more employees. The minimum wage in California will reach $15 an hour by 2023 for all employers.

Assembly Bill 5 takes effect Jan. 1, 2020, and implements the ABC test to determine if a worker can be classified as an independent contractor or an employee. This test applies to many startups in a gig economy where they classify all workers as independent contractors. Employers must comply to all state laws and may face huge penalties if they misclassified their workers.

Classifying all employees as exempt employees just to avoid overtime pay could be troublesome for employers, especially if some or most should be classified as hourly employees where they would qualify for overtime pay.

This article is not a legal document and written with intent to notify small-business owners of changes in human resource legislation. If you need help with a legal matter, contact a employment law attorney.

Paul Sethi is the founder and president of Cognizant HR and Tax serving small businesses with their HR needs like Payroll, Compliance audits, Employee Handbooks, Investigations, Training, Taxes and more. He brings over 10 years in HR field and is SHRM certified professional with MBA. Sethi has founded other businesses with employees over the span of 20 years. He can be reached at (951) 288-2367 or via email