THE TOP TEN LAWS THAT DID NOT PASS IN 2016 (…But May Pass in 2017)

Each year hundreds of laws are introduced in California’s House of Representatives or Senate, only a fraction of which are ever signed into law.  Many laws that are passed, such as last year’s Senate Bill 3 which will increase California’s minimum wage over a six year period and ties future increases to the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers, are the result of years of effort and attempts to pass similar legislation.  What follows is a list of some of the more interesting legislation which failed to become law last year, but which we may see again in the future.

  1. AB 67 Required Double Pay on Thanksgiving

If passed, the Double Pay on the Holiday Action of 2016 (Assembly Bill 67) would have required specified retail and grocery establishment employers to provide double the employee’s regular rate of pay for work performed on Thanksgiving day.  The law did not apply to exempt employees, employees covered by collective bargaining agreements meeting specified conditions, or employees who work for employers who employ 500 or fewer employees.

  1. AB 2261 Sought to Expand the Labor Commissioner’s Power to Investigate Employers for Labor Code Violations

Assembly Bill 2261 (AB 2261) would have granted the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) new authority to investigate an employer that it suspects to have discharged or discriminated against an individual in violation of any law under the DLSE’s jurisdiction, even in the absence of any complaint from an employee against the employer.  Further, the Labor Commissioner would have been empowered to direct employers to remedy violations, including rehiring employees, reimbursing lost wages and paying attorneys’ fees.

  1. AB 2895 Proposed New Disclosure Requirements for Employers’ Illness and Injury Prevention Programs

Beginning July 1, 2017, Assembly Bill 2895 (AB 2895)would have required employers to keep a complete, updated copy of their written injury prevention program (“IIPP”) at each worksite, either provide or make available for inspection the IIPP upon an employees’ oral request within five business days, and inform each employee and new hire in a language understood by the employee of the availability of the IIPP at the worksite and the employee’s right to inspect it and receive a copy of it.  Copies of the IIPP would have had to be provided in the language spoken by the majority of the workforce.  AB 2895 provided that an employee would be entitled to an action for injunctive relief if an employer failed to provide an IIPP copy.

  1. The Voluntary Veterans’ Preference Employment Policy Act Allowed Private Employers to Exercise a Veterans Hiring Preference

The Voluntary Veterans’ Preference Employment Policy Act (Assembly Bill 1383) would have authorized private employers to extend a preference to honorably discharged veterans in making hiring decisions.  AB 1383 was an attempt to address high unemployment rates among veterans.  Despite being reconsidered by the Senate Committee on Judiciary, the bill ultimately failed to pass.

  1. Senate Bill 1166 Would Have Provided 12 Weeks’ Unpaid New Child Bonding Leave Expanding Baby-Bonding Leave to Smaller Employers

California’s Assembly Labor and Employment Committee voted against passage of Senate Bill 1166 (SB 1166), which would have required employers with 10 or more employees to grant most employees the right to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for purposes of bonding with a new child.  The bill would have expanded the baby-bonding leave provisions of the California Family Rights Act (CFRA), which currently applies only to employers with 50 or more employees, to include employers with 10 or more employees.  As with any CFRA leave, to be eligible employees would have had to work for the employer at least 12 months and have had at least 1,250 hours of service during the past 12 months.

  1. The California Workplace Flexibility Act Would Have Allowed Individual Non-Exempt Employees to Work Alternative Workweek Schedules of up to 10 Hours

Senate Bill 985 (SB 985), the California Workplace Flexibility Act, would have permitted individual employees to work an alternative workweek schedule of up to 10 hours per day within a 40 hour workweek, without obligating the employer to pay the employee daily overtime.  The bill was an attempt to expand the current alternative workweek rules which require approval of an existing unit of workers, as it can be difficult to obtain the two-thirds work unit approval needed.  SB 985 was rejected by the Senate Labor and Industrial Relations Committee.

  1. Assembly Bills 2461-2465 Would Have Limited Employee Actions Brought Under the Private Attorneys General Act

In an attempt to provide much needed reform, Assembly Bills 2461 through 2465 would have limited employee actions brought under the Private Attorneys General Act by limiting violations that an aggrieved employee is authorized to bring; providing employers with a right to cure before an employee brings an action; establishing a $1,000 penalty cap for each aggrieved employee; permitting a court to dismiss an action if it found the aggrieved employee did not suffer appreciable physical or economic harm; and requiring the Labor and Workforce Development Agency (LWDA) to investigate violations and determine if there would be a reasonable basis for a civil action.

  1. Assembly Bill 2405 Would Have Required 8 Paid Hours Off for School Related Activities

Under current law, employers with 25 or more employee must provide unpaid school activities leave.  Assembly Bill 2405 (AB 2405) would have required employers to provide eight hours of paid-time off for school-related activities.

  1. Assembly Bill 1948 Sought to Limit Penalties for Meal or Rest Period Violations

Assembly Bill 1948 (AB 1948 ) would have eliminated the stacking of various Labor Code penalties for meal or rest period violations by specifying that one hour of additional pay would be the entire penalty amount awarded in the event of a meal or rest or recovery period is not provided.

  1. Senate Bill 878 Would Have Required Advance Notice by Restaurant, Grocery, and Retail Employers of Employee Schedules and Modification Pay for lack of Notice or if On Call Employee Not Called In to Work

In a bill which some felt served as a prime example of the growing gap between the California Legislature and business owners, the Reliable Scheduling Act (Senate Bill 878) required restaurant, grocery, and retail employers to provide employees with a 21-day work schedule at least seven calendar days prior to the first shift.  Employers would have had to pay “modification pay,” which is compensation in addition to regular pay, if a schedule shift is canceled, moved, or added without sufficient prior notice, and for each shift that an employee must be on call but is not called to work.

It is too early to tell which bills will end up on the Governor Brown’s desk later this year, but based on the examples of the past legislative season, it is sure to be another interesting year.

 

Don’t forget, space is filling up fast!  Join us on Thursday, March 16th:

Investigations Seminar:  Are you Trained?

Under the new FEHA regulations, California employers must ensure that they have proper procedures in place to investigate claims of discrimination, harassment or retaliation that will meet the new standards.  These new regulations require that all allegations of misconduct will be addressed through a fair, timely, and thorough investigation, and that the investigation be conducted by qualified personnel.

To be sure you know how to proceed when such an investigation is needed, join us for our upcoming investigations seminar that will take you through all the steps and considerations:

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Location:  Ervin Cohen & Jessup LLP

Registration time: 9 am

Seminar Time: 9:30 – 11:30 am

 Continental breakfast provided

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