California New Business Laws – Overview from the Apparel News
For those of you with California based businesses it will be important for you to take note of the new California laws that will affect your business in 2012. Below is an overview taken from this week’s Apparel News of the new laws that you should be aware of. It will be important to follow up on any that will impact your own business. These new laws and regulations go into effect on Jan. 1.
In 2011, state legislators were extra busy, passing a slew of new rules that affect California employers. There’s everything from fines for misclassifying independent contractors to having to provide the same employee insurance benefits to same-sex couples if your company operates in a number of states.
A new law passed in 2010 under Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s watch makes it mandatory that California manufacturers and retailers let their customers know what they are doing about human trafficking. And San Francisco is making national headlines by having the highest minimum wage in the country. Here’s a summary of the state employment laws that will influence California’s apparel and textile industries in 2012.
Assembly Bill 22 prohibits employers and prospective employers, not including certain financial institutions, from obtaining and using consumer credit reports (credit information) about applicants or employees.
Pregnancy Disability Leave
Senate Bill 299 requires all employers with five or more employees to continue to maintain and pay for health coverage under a group health plan for an eligible female employee who takes pregnancy disability leave (PDL) up to a maximum of four months in a 12-month period. The benefits are at the same level and under the same conditions as if the employee had continued working during the leave period.
Senate Bill 459 provides new penalties of between $5,000 to $25,000 for the willful misclassification of independent contractors, defined as avoiding employee status for an individual by voluntarily and knowingly misclassifying that individual as an independent contractor.
Written Commissions Agreement
Assembly Bill 1396 requires employers who have commission-pay arrangements to put those agreements into a signed written contract that sets forth the method by which the commissions will be computed and paid.
Notice of Pay Details
Assembly Bill 469 requires employers to provide nonexempt employees, at the time of hire, a new notice that specifies, among other things, specific information regarding payment of wages. This legislation also increases penalties for wage violations.
Senate Bill 559 amends the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) to state that employers are prohibited from discriminating against employees on the basis of genetic information.
Assembly Bill 887 amends the Fair Employment and Housing Act to further define, gender to include both gender identity and, gender expression, as defined by the new law, and to make clear that discrimination on either basis is prohibited.
Assembly Bill 1236 allows employers to continue to choose to use E-Verify but prohibits California state agencies and local governments from passing mandates that require employers to use E-Verify.
Assembly Bill 592 adds language to the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) and the Pregnancy Disability Leave law (PDL) that makes it unlawful to interfere with or, in any way, restrain the exercise of rights under these laws.
Assembly Bill 240 allows an employee that alleges a minimum-wage violation to recover liquidated damages pursuant to any complaint brought before the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement.
Assembly Bill 551 increases the maximum penalty from $50 to $200 per calendar day for each worker paid less than the determined prevailing wage and increases the minimum penalty from $10 to $40 per day for violations of prevailing wage obligations.
Non-Discrimination Insurance Act
Senate Bill 757 prevents employers that operate in multiple states from discriminating against same-sex couples by not providing the same insurance coverage for domestic partners as they do for spouses.
Senate Bill 117 outlaws the state of California from entering into contracts of more than $100,000 with companies that discriminate against employees on the basis of gender or sexual orientation with regard to benefits.
Assembly Bill 335 requires the workers compensation administrative director (AD) to work with the Commission on Health and Safety and Workers Compensation (CHSWC) to develop regulations regarding notices to injured workers; requires AD and CHSWC to develop and make accessible a booklet written in plain language about the workers comp claims process; and streamlines and simplifies other notices to employees. The new law also states that workers compensation notices posted by employers must now include the website address and contact information that employees may use to obtain further information about the workers compensation claims process and an injured employees rights and obligations, including the location and telephone number of the nearest information and assistance officer.
Under Schwarzenegger, Senate Bill 657 was passed, making it mandatory for California manufacturers and retailers to let their consumers and suppliers know what they are doing to fight human trafficking. Under the California Transparency in Supply Chain Act, retailers and manufacturers are required to post this information about their policies on their website’s home page starting Jan. 1.
The California minimum wage remains at $8 an hour, but San Francisco is boosting its minimum wage from $9.92 to $10.24 an hour. San Francisco’s minimum wage started going up after voters in 2003 approved an annual increase based on a formula tied to inflation.
San Francisco Based Companies –
Beginning January 1, 2012, all employers must pay to each employee who performs work in San Francisco (including temporary and part-time employees) wages not less than $10.24 per hour.
The minimum wage requirement, set forth in the San Francisco Minimum Wage Ordinance, Chapter 12R of the San Francisco Administrative Code, applies to adult and minor employees who work two (2) or more hours per week. Each year, the City will adjust the amount of the minimum wage based on increases in regional consumer price index.
Under the Ordinance, employees who assert their rights to receive the City’s minimum wage are protected from retaliation. Employees may file a civil lawsuit against their employers for any violation of the Ordinance. The City can investigate possible violations, shall have access to payroll records, and can enforce the minimum wage requirements by ordering reinstatement of employees, payment of back wages unlawfully withheld, and penalties.
If you should have any questions or require additional information, please contact the Office of Labor Standards (OLSE) at (415) 554-6292 or Email MWO@sfgov.org