January 1st means a number of new laws go into effect in California and elsewhere. Among the new California laws are the following:
The California minimum wage will increase to $10.50 per hour for businesses with 25 or fewer employees and to $11 per hour for those with 26 or more employees. The minimum wage will continue to increase annually until it reaches $15 per hour in 2022 for large companies for companies with 26 or more employees and 2023 for all other employers.
Employers also will no longer be able to ask job applicants about their past salaries and must disclose the pay scale for a position upon request. This is to further the state’s Equal Pay Act which prohibits discrimination in pay for the same work based on gender, race or ethnicity.
Employers also cannot ask if a prospective employee has a criminal conviction but may conduct a background check once a conditional offer has been made.
Under the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) and the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), workers of employers with 50 or more employees may take up to 12 workweeks of unpaid, job-protected leave during a 12-month period for specified family and medical reasons, including time to bond with a new child through birth, adoption or foster care placement, among others. The workers are guaranteed reinstatement to the same or comparable position and continuation of group health coverage during the duration of the leave.
Under the New Parent Leave Act employers with 20-49 employees must provide up to 12 weeks leave to an employee with at least 12 months of service (or 1,250 hours) in order to bond with a new child within one year of the child’s birth, adoption or foster care placement.
California expanded its requirement for companies with 50 or more employees to provide sexual harassment training to supervisors every two years or within six months of the employee assumption of supervisory duties to include training on harassment based on gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation.
Live Streaming Crimes
Criminals who videotape or stream their crimes on social media could face longer sentences under a law that allows judges to consider the recordings as aggravating factors in sentences for certain violent crimes.
Recreational Marijuana Use
Pursuant to Proposition 64, recreational consumption of marijuana is now permitted under state law (but still illegal under Federal law). The law permits an adult 21-years or older to possess, process, transport, purchase, obtain, or give away to persons 21 or older, not more than one ounce of cannabis or 8 grams of concentrated cannabis. The cannabis cannot be consumed in any public place, a non-smoking area or in a moving vehicle.
The law, however, does not impact on employer policies regarding maintaining a drug or cannabis use by employees or landlord policies regarding the use of cannabis on their properties.
New Year Checklist
Of course, the New Year is a good opportunity to review the status of your corporate documents, employee handbooks, contracts, domain registrations etc. as set forth in more detail below.