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New laws provide added protections to California workers

The California legislature passed many new laws that went into effect on Jan. 1, 2015, several of which offer added protections to workers. Here is a quick roundup of the new laws and what they mean for California employees and employers.

Mandatory paid sick leave for employees who work at least 30 days within one year.

  • Formally known as AB 1552.
  • Requirements take effect on July 1, 2015.
  • Applies to all workers, including full-time, part-time, temporary, migrant and seasonal employees at both large and small businesses.
  • Employees earn one hour of sick leave for every 30 hours of work.
  • Employers can cap sick leave usage at three days a year and six days of accrual.
  • Sick leave carry over into the next year, or employer can pay unused sick time with an annual lump sum payment.
  • Employer does not have to pay employee for unused sick time at end of employment. 

Some employers responsible for independent contract workers’ wages and workers’ compensation insurance.

  • Certain employers can be jointly liable for the wages and workers’ compensation of independent contractors if the contractor fails to supply these.
  • To apply, the independent contractor has to have six or more non-exempt workers at the job site.
  • Does not apply to small businesses with 25 or fewer total workers, including employees and contractors.

Employers who currently have to provide sexual harassment training to supervisors must now also include a training component on “abusive conduct.”

  • Formally known as AB 2053.
  • Attempts to protect workers from bullying in the workplace that falls outside of an illegal form of discrimination.
  • Does not give workers who are bullied outside of an illegal form of discrimination a cause of action against the employer.

California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act now includes discrimination protection for unpaid interns and volunteers.

  • Formally known as AB 1443.
  • Unpaid interns and volunteers now protected by the state’s anti-discrimination and anti-harassment laws.
  • Protections for religious beliefs and accommodations extended to workers in an internship or apprentice program.

For a lengthier analysis of the new laws affecting California employees and employers and what they mean, see this piece by The Press Enterprise. 

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