California Employment Law Update – December 2018


2019 San Jose Minimum Wage Increase

The City of San Jose announced that beginning January 1, 2019, employers subject to the San Jose Business License Tax or that maintain a facility in San Jose must pay to each employee who performs at least two hours of work per week in San Jose at least $15 per hour.

Employers must post this announcement where employees can easily read it. Employers that violate the minimum wage requirements are subject to penalties.

See the announcement

Minimum Wage Poster Updated

The California Labor Commissioner’s Office released its updated minimum wage official notice to reflect the increases in the state’s minimum wage rate effective January 1, 2019 and 2020. Employers must post this notice next to their Industrial Welfare Commission or Industry Occupation Order.

The amendments to the wage orders are in effect as of January 1, 2019.

See the notice

Oakland’s Measure Z Approved

On November 6, 2018, Oakland voters approved Measure Z, which requires Oakland hotel employers to provide their employees with:

  • A minimum hourly wage of $15 per hour if the employer provides employees and their dependents with healthcare benefits, or $20 if no benefits are provided. This rate will annually increase with inflation and is effective July 1, 2019.
  • An emergency contact device (panic button) to report an ongoing crime, threats, or other emergency.
  • Support in reporting violence or threatening behavior, including reassignment and paid time to contact the police and consult with a counselor or advisor.
  • Workload restrictions, including maximum floor space to be cleaned and limitations on mandatory overtime, so as to provide a humane workload.
  • Employee access to records regarding the employee’s pay rate, daily workload, and overtime for a minimum of three years.

Measure Z defines a hotel employee as any individual:

  • Employed to provide service in an Oakland hotel with 50 or more guest rooms or suites of rooms, whether employed directly by the hotel or by the hotel’s contractor; and
  • Who was hired to work, or did work, an average of five hours per week for four weeks.

The measure also protects employees from discrimination or retaliation for exercising their rights, creates penalties for violations, and establishes a Department of Workplace and Employment Standards for enforcement effective July 1, 2020.

Read Measure Z

DFEH Offers New Online Resources for Employers

On November 26, 2018, the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) published a new online resources page for California employers that provides:

  • Required DFEH workplace postings.
  • Information about the use of criminal history information in hiring decisions.
  • FAQs and sample forms to use in connection with reasonable accommodation requests.
  • Sample EEO policy.
  • DFEH’s workplace harassment prevention guide.
  • Sexual harassment prevention training requirements.
  • Answers to the most frequently asked questions about SB 1343 (requiring employers to provide sexual harassment prevention training).
  • An employer compliance toolkit.

The DFEH also offers a sample sexual harassment and abusive conduct prevention PowerPoint that employers may use in conjunction with a qualified trainer to meet the law’s requirements. The DFEH expects to make its training videos available in late 2019.

See the online resources page

Private-Sector Emergency Ambulance Employees to Remain on Call During Work Breaks

On November 6, 2018, California voters passed a proposition (Proposition 11) creating the Emergency Ambulance Employee Safety and Preparedness Act (located at Cal. Labor Code §§ 880 – 890). According to the proposition analysis, private ambulance companies may now continue their current practice of having emergency medical technicians and paramedics stay on-duty during their meal and rest breaks in order to respond to 911 calls. Private ambulance companies would attempt to reschedule meal and rest breaks that are interrupted by a 911 call.

Under the specifics of the act, all emergency ambulance employees are entitled to meal and rest periods as prescribed by the California Industrial Welfare Commission and must be compensated at their regular hourly rate of pay during those periods. Additionally, an emergency ambulance provider:

  • May not require an emergency ambulance employee to take a meal period during the first or last hour of a work shift.
  • Must allow an emergency ambulance employee to space multiple meal periods during a work shift that are at least two hours apart.
  • Must manage staffing at levels sufficient to provide enough inactivity in a work shift for emergency ambulance employees to meet these requirements.

Any meal period that does not comply with these requirements will not be counted towards the meal periods an employee is entitled to during his or her work shift.

The act also requires private ambulance companies to provide emergency workers with the following annual training free of charge and with compensation during the period of required training:

  • Responding to active shooter and mass casualty incidents.
  • Responding to natural disasters.
  • Preventing violence against emergency ambulance employees and patients.

Lastly, every emergency ambulance employee:

  • Must receive employer-paid mental health and wellness education within 30 days of being hired and each calendar year thereafter.
  • Is entitled to employer-paid mental health services through an employee assistance program for up to 10 mental health treatments per issue, per calendar year.
  • Must have access to health insurance plans that offer long-term mental health treatment services.

The law was added to the California Labor Code on November 6, 2018.

Read the act

Cal/OSHA Recording and Reporting Occupational Injuries and Illnesses

On October 18, 2018, California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) issued an amended notice of proposed emergency action to amend Cal. Code Regs. tit. 8, §§ 14300.35 and 14300.41 and thus conform California’s recordkeeping requirements to the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) program. On November 1, 2018, the California Office of Administrative Law approved the emergency action. Subsequently, the following California employers are now required to submit Form 300A data covering calendar year 2017 by December 31, 2018:

Covered employers should follow the instructions posted at federal OSHA’s Injury Tracking Application website.

See the Cal/OSHA website

Disability Compensation and Paid Family Leave

On September 27, 2018, California Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation (S.B. 1123) amending the California Family Temporary Disability Insurance Program to establish a program that will provide up to six weeks of wage replacement benefits to workers who take time off work to:

  • Care for a seriously ill child, spouse, parent, grandparent, grandchild, sibling, or domestic partner;
  • Bond with a minor child within one year of the birth or placement of the child in connection with foster care or adoption; or
  • Participate in a qualifying exigency related to the covered active duty or call to covered active duty of the individual’s spouse, domestic partner, child, or parent in the U.S. Armed Forces.

However, the law does not abridge the rights and responsibilities conveyed under the California Family Rights Act or pregnancy disability leave.

The law also specifies:

  • The weekly benefit amount.
  • The maximum amount payable during any disability benefit period for family temporary disability insurance.
  • That no more than six weeks of family temporary disability insurance benefits will be paid within any 12-month period.
  • When a claim for family temporary disability insurance benefits must be filed (by the 41st consecutive day following the first compensable day on which the claim for benefits is made).

The law is effective January 1, 2019; however, it does not become operative until January 1, 2021.

Read CA S.B. 1123 and the law as amended