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Are You Gearing Up for 2020?

This is the time of year when many people reflect on the year and revisit personal goals and tasks they planned to accomplish. The same is true with business. Legislative bills signed by the governor this year will take effect in January. There are new laws regarding independent contractors, lactation accommodation, organ donor leave, paid family leave (effective 7/1/20), and harassment prevention training, just to name a few. Your internal policies, employee handbooks, compliance postings and HR processes should be reviewed and updated.

Below are the highlights.

Minimum Wage and Salaries in California

If you employ 26 or more employees, increase the hourly rate of non-exempt workers to $13 per hour effective January 1, 2020. However, if you are subject to a local minimum wage law, apply the wage that is most generous to the employee. Update the minimum salaries of exempt employees to ensure they earn at least $54,080 per year.

Employers with fewer than 26 employees, increase the hourly rate of non-exempt workers to $12 per hour effective January 1, 2020. However, if you are subject to a local minimum wage law, apply the wage that is most generous to the employee. Update the minimum salaries of exempt employees to ensure they earn at least $49,920 per year.

Independent Contractors

Assembly Bill 5 (AB5) and Assembly Bill 170 (AB 170), which take effect on January 1, 2020, are related to classification of workers as independent contractors. They codify the "ABC" test, which imposes three elements for employers to follow in order to prove a worker is an independent contractor, not an employee.

The ABC test includes: a) The person is free from control and direction of hiring entity in connection with the performance of the work, both under the contract for the performance of the work and in fact; b) The person performs that work is outside the usual course of the hiring entity's business; and c) The person is customarily engaged in the independent established trade, occupation , or business of the same nature as that involved in the work performed.

There are some exceptions for certain white-collar professions, contracts for "professional services" and some other industries. The list of exceptions is included in AB5.

Employers should review their independent contractor relationships and agreements to ensure they meet AB5 requirements and the ABC test. A copy of AB5 may be accessed here for more details: https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov

Earned Income Tax Credit Notice (EITC)

The EITC, with both federal and the California information, must be provided within one week before or after, or at the same time, the employer provides the annual wage summary (e.g., W-2 or 1099) to any employee.

The notification, or instructions on how to obtain notices from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and Franchise Tax Board (FTB), must be handed directly to the employee or mailed to the employee's last known address. Posting this notification on a bulletin board, by office mail or e-mail is insufficient. However, an employer may post the notice on an employee bulletin board AND send via office mail; these methods of notification are encouraged to help inform all employees of the federal and the California EITC.

For more information on an employers' responsibilities and how employees may claim the EITC, refer to the following webpage: http://www.edd.ca.gov

Expansion of Lactation Accommodation

California has expanded the lactation accommodation requirements as of January 1, 2020 with the passing of Senate Bill 142 (SB 142). Currently, employers are required to provide a location other than a bathroom to women who express milk during their breaks. SB 142 expands the 2018 law by adding specifications for the room and process.

The lactation room must be safe, clean and free of toxic or hazardous materials. It must be close to the employee's work area, shielded from view and free from intrusion. There must be a surface to place the breast pump and other personal items. The room must have seating and access to electricity. In addition, the employee must have access to a sink with running water and a refrigerator suitable for storing breast milk close to their workspace.

There is an undue hardship exemption in the 2018 bill. SB 142 keeps this exemption in place but limits it to employers with fewer than 50 employees.

Violation of this law may result in a citation and civil penalty in the amount of one hundred dollars ($100) for each day that an employee is denied reasonable break time or adequate space to express milk.

We recommend reviewing these specifications and planning ahead to ensure a room is ready for your employees who request lactation accommodation in the workplace. A copy of SB 142 can be found here: https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov

More Time to Train Your Employees in Harassment Prevention

If you have five or more employees, it is likely that harassment prevention training has been on your radar this year. If you have not yet trained your employees and supervisors, you are in luck. Employers have received some reprieve with Senate Bill 778 (SB 778), which expands the deadline for this training first imposed by Senate Bill 1343 (SB 1343), to January 1, 2021.

All employers with five or more employees must train both supervisors/managers and employees (non-supervisors) by January 1, 2021. For employers with 50 or more employees, take note that this law also imposes a new requirement for you to train your employees. For employees (non-supervisors), the training must be at least one hour. For supervisors/managers, the training must be at least two hours.

Seasonal and temporary employees must be trained within 30 days or 100 hours of employment beginning on January 1, 2021.

If you have already trained your staff in 2019, you will have two full years to repeat the training and do not need to conduct the training again until after January 1, 2021.

HR Done Right offers the required "EEO -Respect in the Workplace training" for our clients at our location (575 University Avenue) or at client sites, depending on your needs. We recommend jumping on this in January 2020 and making a plan to ensure your training is conducted by January 1, 2021. HR Done Right is here to help you, so please contact us for more information.

The CROWN Act - Race Discrimination to Include Hairstyles

On July 2, 2019, Governor Newsom signed Senate Bill 188 (SB 188), also known as the CROWN Act, "Create a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural Hair", which prohibits racial discrimination against applicants or employees based on hairstyle. It expands the definition of "race" to be "inclusive of traits historically associated with race, including, but not limited to, hair texture and protective hairstyles." This new law takes effect on January 1, 2020.

SB 188 addresses workplace dress code and grooming policies that prohibit natural hair, including afros, braids, twists, and locks. Section 1(d) of the law states that workplace dress and grooming policies that prohibit natural hair "are more likely to deter Black applicants" than any other group. Employers may continue to enforce policies which require employees to secure their hair for health, safety or hygienic reasons, but must apply these standards consistently. This Bill applies to public and private employers and public schools, and excludes religious associations and nonprofit organizations.

We recommend reviewing your dress and grooming policies for any provisions which might not be in compliance with the CROWN Act.

A copy of the CROWN Act can be found here: https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov

Want to ring in the new year celebrating your HR compliance? Contact an HR consultant for guidance today.