Will 2018 Bring More Employment Mandates on California’s Business Community?

Chris Micheli
Chris Micheli is a Principal with the Sacramento governmental relations firm of Aprea & Micheli, Inc.

As the 2018 California Legislative Session commences on January 3, the business community must remain vigilant about those bills that could present new, burdensome changes in state labor and employment laws. The 2017 Session saw a large number of significant labor and employment laws get enacted that impose significant burdens upon employers in California, including expanded parental leave, immigration protections, prior salary history limitations, and criminal background history protections.

Despite the significant law changes enacted just this year, the business community is certain to face more measures that will represent additional, significant financial and legal liability for California employers. More than one hundred new laws in this policy area have been enacted during the past few years. 

Labor Code changes or additions are introduced each year of the legislative session and businesses barely have time to implement changes before another set of new laws get enacted. And this does not consider all of the regulatory changes being promulgated by Cal-OSHA, DLSE, and DFEH.

Looking back at the last few Legislative Sessions, we have the following data on labor-related legislation considered in this state:

2017 Session – 79 bills introduced by February 17 deadline to amend or add provisions to the Labor Code. 22 new laws were enacted.

2015 – 2016 Session – 148 bills introduced to amend or add provisions to the Labor Code. 64 new laws were enacted.

2013 – 2014 Session – 137 bills introduced to amend or add provisions to the Labor Code. 63 new laws were enacted.

2011 – 2012 Session – 154 bills introduced to amend or add provisions to the Labor Code. 56 new laws were enacted.

2009 – 2010 Session – 136 bills introduced to amend or add provisions to the Labor Code. 28 new laws were enacted.

With most of the key bills enacted in 2017, there are a few 2-year bills left for further consideration that need to be acted upon by January 31 by their house of origin. Two key ones are:

AB 5 (Gonzalez Fletcher) – This bill would create the Opportunity to Work Act and would require an employer with 10 or more employees to offer additional hours of work to an existing nonexempt employee before hiring an additional employee or subcontractor, would require an employer to post a notice of employee rights, and would require the employer to maintain certain documentation. It is pending in the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

AB 1565 (Thurmond) – This bill would exempt from overtime compensation an executive, administrative, or professional employee if the employee earns a monthly salary equivalent to either $3,956 or an amount no less than twice the state minimum wage for full-time employment, whichever amount is higher. It is pending on the Senate Floor.

In addition, there will be new bills, or re-introductions of prior bills, including:

  • A bill that the author said she will re-introduce is AB 1209 (Gonzalez Fletcher), which the Governor vetoed. This bill would have required employers with 500 or more employees to file every other year with the Secretary of State data collected on gender pay differentials, where it would be posted on a publicly-available website. The bill’s author has publicly stated that she plans to pursue publication of gender pay differentials in 2018
  • “Predictable scheduling” mandate
  • Expansion of the California Family Rights Act
  • Limitation or prohibition of arbitration agreements in employment disputes
  • “Double pay on holidays” requirement
  • Expansion of sick leave mandate
  • Limitation on the use of independent contractors.

As we have experienced over the past half a dozen years, there is a never-ending supply of legislation that would impose financial costs and compliance burdens upon California’s business community, particularly small businesses that do not have the benefit of in-house legal and human resources personnel to assist them in complying with these mandates and law changes.

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