New Labor Laws For California In 2016 

Over the last couple of years, the compliance scene has really gotten difficult for employers. Both Cal-OSHA and the Division of Labor Standards of Enforcement are making employers who choose to stay out of compliance pay.  In addition to that, the new labor laws for California in 2016 are just going to add fuel to the fire that was started a couple of years ago.  It is amazing to me just how quickly things have changed in California concerning compliance matters.  It was not that long ago that I would not even feel the need to help employers who employed less than ten employees.  At the end of 2013 things really began to change and then in 2015, we developed a network of attorneys for the first time since we started our company in 1997.  All of that bring us up to where we are today.

New Labor Laws for California in 2016 have really put the icing on the cake but these new laws are not the only ones giving employers problems.  So in this article, we will not only be covering the new laws but we will be discoing some areas where employers have failed to comply in a big way and now they are going to be more likely to have to pay for the failure to comply. At CES Today we have seen this coming since 2013.  We saw this begin with Cal-OSHA, but never really thought that this move to make employers comply with the passage of new laws would go over to the labor law side of compliance.  As you read this article if you should have any questions we would love to hear them. We love questions.

Both Cal-OSHA and the Department of Labor Standards Enforcement are going to be enforcing not only the new labor laws for California in 2016 but older ones as well.  To begin with let’s start with some labor laws that have been on the books for a while.

Rest and Meal Periods:

new labor laws for California in 2016Rest and Meal Periods: Since the Brinker decision employers must provide employees with both rest and meal periods. In a normal 8 (eight) hour shift, employers must provide 2 (two) breaks periods of at least 10 (ten) minutes in length. This time is to be duty-free. It is a time that the employee can make phone calls check their emails or whatever else they want to do. The meal period is to be a 30 (thirty) minute break again this time must be duty-free. The good news for employers is that according to California Labor Code lunches can be taken starting the 2nd hour of the work day but must be taken before the 6th hour of the work day.

Overtime In California:

Overtime is to be paid when an employee works over 8 (eight) hours a day or 40 (forty) hours in a week. This means that it is possible to owe an employee for overtime even if they have not worked a 5 (five) day or a 40 (forty) hour work week.

Paid Sick Leave:

Many employers today are taking their vacation policy and changing it to a PTO policy for the purpose of complying with the new California Paid Sick Leave Policy. The mistake that employers make is that their PTO policy as written does not comply with the Paid Sick Leave policy. Allow me to give you an example for the purpose of clarity. If you PTO can only be taken in increments of 8 (eight) hour periods and you use that policy for the paid sick leave you are not compliant. The reason you are not compliant is because the paid sick leave policy is given in hourly increments. In order to comply your PTO policy must be able to be taken in hourly increments as well.

Exempt Versus Nonexempt:

Many employers today are still making the mistake of classifying employees that are nonexempt as exempt employees, and this is a very big issue when it comes to the California Labor Code. If you are doing this, you are in violation of the codes of Ca Labor laws, and it could come back and bite you big time. An Exempt employee must make double minimum wage; they must have the ability to hire and fire along with the ability to make executive decisions.

Failing to pay employees properly.  I am only going to hit one aspect of this. Let’s say that you own an automotive repair shop or a restaurant. Your employees shift starts at 8: A.M., but you make him come in early and use that time to get into his uniform. You do not pay him for that time because he is not on the clock, but he is in the building you are not paying your employee according to the standards of employment law. The correct way to do this is once the employee is on the job site the employee is on the clock. If you want him to be dressed when he reports to work have him take his uniform home the night before and put it on at his house and then report for work. These days it is better to be safe than sorry when it comes to the California Labor Codes.

With the passing of these new labor laws for California in 2016, there will be even more things for employers to have to consider.  If you have not updated your employee handbook in a couple of years now would be a very good time to do so.

For many years a lot of employers had looked the other way when it came to compliance with the California Labor Laws and Cal-OSHA Regulations. Believe it, or not many employers do not have a formally written Safety Program, and quite a few don’t even have, and employee handbook and many more employers fail to update their employee handbook annually.

Failing to not have a current employee handbook and or failing to have a current Safety Program was never a wise thing to do but now with all of the new compliance enforcement procedures and the new labor laws for California in 2016 it is like playing Russian Roulette.

In addition to that attorneys are now going to great lengths to make sure that your employees are aware of their many rights and that one of those rights is the right to sue you their employers for any wage and hour violation. There are over 180,000 websites that is educating employees on how to do just that.

Take a look at this video from YouTube, there are many, many more that are much stronger. It is short and I promise you this will help you to understand why employers are being sued more and more today.

 

It is now time for employers to not only understand the new labor laws for California in 2016 that we have discussed so far and will continue to discuss below. It is also time to protect your rights as an employer and the only way that you can effectively do that is to get and stay in compliance.
One of the problems is that these new laws are not simplistic in nature. Many of them are far-reaching and confusing, and if you don’t take the time to study them, you may one day wish that you had.

Paid Sick Leave: Took Effect: In July Of 2015

Let’s just take a minute and talk about the New Paid sick leave was a law that was passed and became law effective July 1, 2015. Now, this law requires that employers now give three days of paid sick leave to all employees who qualify. The accrual rate is one hour of sick leave for every 30 hours worked. On the surface, this does not sound like such a big deal. However, it is a big deal because it is far more reaching than that. In the next few bullet points, we will highlight some of the nuances of this new paid sick leave law.

  • You must track the hours that have been accrued on the employee’s pay stub.
  • If you go the banking method, then you must track the number of hours the employee has left to use.
  • You must not in any circumstance retaliate by having a policy that says if you fail to work the day before a paid holiday or the day after you will not be eligible to receive your holiday pay.
  • Every employer with one or more employees must know have an employee handbook that will accurately explain how you are going to make provision for this new labor law.
  • PTO (Paid Time Off) can be used for and qualifies for the paid sick leave. But your PTO must be written in a way that addresses all of the issues in this new paid sick leave law.
  • Using PTO can save you from having to deal with the additional three days since it does qualify.
  • What do you have to do to make PTO work for you with regards to paid sick leave and your payroll company.

If you have a payroll company using PTO Could be considered a small nightmare. The reason why is because the software of all of these payroll companies is not able to handle PTO. So what these payroll services are making employers do is take some of the PTO time and set that aside for sick time only. This becomes a problem on many fronts.

First of all many employers in California are switching out their vacation time and calling it PTO retroactive to July 1, 2015. So let’s take a second and see how this might work. As an employer, you have been providing your employees with five days of vacation time per year. As you look at your budget, you see that you really cannot afford to give another three days for sick leave and so you decide to change your vacation time to PTO.

Now the reason that PTO qualifies for paid sick leave is because PTO can be used for any type of leave from vacation, sick leave, personal time, or family time. So up to now everything is good your employees are not losing anything and you are not having to provide additional days that you cannot afford. And then your payroll company says that since you must keep track of sick leave hours on the employee’s pay-stub you must now take three of these five days and designate them as sick days and this is where the issues start.

The problem is they have no way on their software for you to add PTO which would solve the entire problem because under the PTO heading which qualifies for Paid sick leave you could just put down your PTO. You can force them to do this but they will tell you 1000 times that you can’t and yet when you stand your ground and stay firm they can and do figure out a way to get it done. Should you ever get to a place that you need some help with that we can and will help you just give us a call.

The Following are new labor laws for California in 2016

The new Minimum Wage:

The new minimum wage will be going up to $10.00 per hour effective January 1st, 2016.

New labor laws for California in 2016 establish the minimum rate of pay for employers and that minimum wage is currently $9.00 per hour. This rate will rise to $10.00 per hour in July of 2016. This law is going to be a burden for some industries such as the fast food industry and the construction industry as well as the automotive repair industry.

For the construction industry and the automotive repair industry, this law is a nightmare. The reason why is because in these industries many times employees are required to bring their own tools in order to be able to work for the company.

When you add this into the mix the price per hour is now $20.00 per employee per hour. In both of these industries this is getting close to the top dollar, and yet the employee that you hire on may not be worth that kind of money but you have to hire someone, and if you require them to have tools then you are stuck.

However, if you are in one of these industries and you can provide tools and not have the employee bring his own there is a work around. You can have an employee bring and use his own tools as long as it is not required by the company for the employee to bring his own tools. What that means is you the employer must have tools on site for the employee to use.  There is a contract that you can sign with the employee which allows him to stop bringing his tools at any time and in this case you must have everything he needs to work.

The main crux of this law is that if it is required that the employee brings his or her tools. So you the employer once again for clarity must have tools available for the employee to use.

Once again the employee can bow out of this agreement at any time and then if he was bringing some of his own tools by choice now you must provide all tools for him and you cannot retaliate, or you could be facing a large lawsuit.

AB-1513 AKA Rest and Recovery Bill has become law.

On October 10 Governor Brown signed a new bill into law. This new law has undone and re-written the rules that were previously in place concerning piece-rate compensation. The new law that I am making reference to is AB 1513. AB 1513 gives birth to the California Labor Code section 226.2.  AB 1513 establishes new requirements for the payment of a separate hourly wage for time worked by piece-rate or production-based pay. What does this mean to employers? It means that if you are in the transportation industry or the construction industry or if you have employees that work in agriculture this new labor code could affect you. This is one of the new labor laws for California in 2016 that is a night mare for employers.  Even labor law attorneys are having a difficult time with this.

Non-Production Time is any time that the employee is not working on something that is enabling him to earn production pay below are a couple of examples. Rest Breaks and time spent waiting for parts or moving cars in and out of stalls. In short, any time spent on the job that is not directly allowing the employee to earn his piece-rate or production pay.

After the Downtown Motors versus the Gonzalez case, many employers in the automotive repair industry have chosen to compensate their employees by paying them double minimum wage if the employee is required to provide their own tools in order to work on the job. In addition to that there would be a production rate increase that would be based on the employee establishing a minimum of x number of flag hours, and depending on the employer there could be 1-3 levels of production based upon the total number of flag hours reached per pay period.  The problem now with this method of pay is that the productions bonus is based upon flag hours which is considered a form of piece rate pay. Now the new law does not come out and say that this method would fall into the piece rate category, but the labor law attorneys that I am talking with are very concerned that this thin vale will be pierced very soon and that it is not worth the risk of litigation.

 Kin Care Law

SB 579 amends Labor Code Section 233, commonly referred to as the “Kin Care” law. The law requires that employer providing paid sick leave must permit employees to use half of their accrued and available sick leave to attend to an illness of their child, parent, spouse, or domestic partner.

SB 579 requires such leave to be used for the same reasons allowed under California’s new Sick Leave Law:

The diagnosis, care, or treatment of an existing health condition of or preventive care for an employee or the employee’s family member; and

Certain absences resulting from domestic violence sexual assault, or stalking.

The term “family member” is defined by California’s new paid sick leave law and includes not only child, parent, spouse, or registered domestic partner but also a parent-in-law, grandparent, grandchild, or sibling.

The rights and obligations under Section 233 should no longer be referred to as “Kin Care” leave since the amended Section 233 include not only kin care leave but also leave for an employee’s own illness, in addition, to  leave for an employee who is a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking. Employers must comply with Section 233 and Paid Sick Leave.

‘School Activities’ Leave:

Currently, Labor Code Section 230.8 requires employers with 25 or more employees to provide unpaid leave to employees who are a parent, guardian, or grandparent with custody of one or more children who are kindergarten or grades 1 through 12 or are attending a licensed daycare facility. Employers must provide such employees with up to 40 hours of unpaid leave each year, not to exceed eight hours in any calendar month, to participate in school or daycare activities.

SB 579 expands the reasons for which employees can take leave to include the following: (1) to find or enroll or reenroll their child in a school or with a licensed childcare provider and (2) to address a childcare provider or school emergency. “Child Care provider or school emergency” is broadly defined to mean that an employee’s child can’t remain in school or with a childcare provider because of one of the following:

  • The school or childcare provider has requested that the child is picked up or has an attendance policy, excluding planned holidays; that prohibits the child from attending or requires the child to be picked up:
  • Behavioral or discipline problems;
  • The closure or unexpected unavailability of the school or childcare provider, excluding planned holidays; or
  • A natural disaster such as a fire, earthquake, or flood.

Part One of AB 1513 New Labor Code Section 226.2

Requires Separate Hourly Pay for Rest and Recovery Periods and Nonproductive Time Worked by Piece-Rate Employees

AB 1513 creates new section 226.2 of the California Labor Code, which applies to all employees compensated on a piece-rate basis.1 The new section, which will become effective January 1, 2016, codifies three, basic statutory requirements for the payment of employees on a piece-rate basis: Rest and recovery periods and other nonproductive time. Employers must pay a piece-rate employee for rest and recovery periods as well as all other nonproductive time at an average hourly rate that is determined by dividing the employee’s total rate of pay for the pay period (not including compensation for rest and recovery periods and overtime premiums) by the total hours worked during the workweek (not including rest and recovery and other nonproductive periods).

Part Two of AB 1513 is an explanation of the safe harbor provision in AB 1513 AB 1513 provides limited relief for employers facing recently filed litigation on these claims, or who fear they could face liability if such a claim is filed now that the statute has codified these concepts.  For more information on this, I would encourage you to follow the second link in the reference link section of this article.

Part Two of AB 1513:

AB 1513 means that employers must now also specify several additional categories of information on a piece-rate itemized wage statement:

The total hours of compensable rest and recovery periods, the rate of compensation paid for those periods, and the gross wages paid for those periods during the pay period. If employers do not pay a separate hourly rate for all hours worked (in addition to piece-rate wages), then the employer must also list the total hours of other non-productive time, the rate of compensation for that time, and the gross wages paid for that time during the pay period.

Below is a list of cases that the new law AB 1513 was built upon:

Gonzalez v. Downtown Motors, Bluford v. Safeway, Inc. Cardenas v. McLane Foodservices, Inc.

Each of these cases took away a piece of the employer’s ability to average out the hours worked by the wages paid. In times past if at the end of the day the employer had paid at least minimum wage then they were good.

Rest and Meal Periods:

The Brinker Case gave employers a break when it comes to meal periods. Before the Brinker Case, the employer was responsible for making sure the employee took their lunch. This was true even when the employer did not have control over his/her or her or her employee ie construction workers who work on the job site and not in the office.

After the Brinker case, employers must still make sure they provide meal periods but the employer is no longer responsible for making sure the employee takes the meal period, of course, the best way to prove that you have a meal period established is to have an employee handbook that spells out your rest breaks and meal periods.

Deductions From Employees Pay Brief:

California Labor Laws do not allow employers to deduct anything from the employee’s last check or any other check other than normal deductions. In other words, if an employee damaged a company vehicle or something that belongs to one of the company’s customers, California labor laws are very clear you cannot deduct any of that from the employee’s check final or otherwise. In California, all of that is simply the cost of doing business.

Wrongful Termination:

With all of the new labor laws for California in 2016 concerning Discrimination and other issues, employers must be careful when terminating an employee. If you are using your AT-Will Employment status to hire and fire you need to make sure that you use it correctly or it could be a very costly experience.  Make sure that you have not made any implied contracts that would violate the at-will status. For example sayings things like we expect all of our employees to be here forever. To us, all of our employees are just like family.

Make sure you are terminating someone who has a history of getting raises and or good reviews based upon job performance. If you are terminating someone like this you need to make sure that you have good documentation.

Stay away from firing anyone who may be a protected category such as a pregnant woman, and older employee, especially if they have been with the company for a long while.

Bullying in the workplace:

This has quietly become a huge deal, and it is catching employers off guard. It is estimated that 50% of the workforce is facing some kind of bullying in the workplace.

The legal term is called a hostile work environment which can also include sexual harassment and discrimination. It is the employer’s responsibility to make sure that the work environment is free from all of these kinds of behaviors.

Separation From The Company:

If you terminate the employee, you must have their final pay check by the end of business day. If the employee terminates their relationship with you, then accord to Labor Laws California; gives you have seventy-two hours to issue the final paycheck.

Let me say this one more time, as you can see with all of the new labor laws for California in 2016, in conjunction with what is already on the books; it is imperative that employers get in, and stay in compliance.

Should you have any questions we are there to help you.

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California Labor Code

Labor Laws California:

What employers need to understand about employee rights.

Many employers may well ask the question, why is an article that features employees’ rights being featured on a website that defends the rights of employers.

To use an old sports analogy, the best offense is a good defense.

As an employer, if you have a good understanding of the California  Labor Laws you will be less likely to violate them.  Attorneys that bring employee lawsuits are very familiar with the rights of employees.  So when one ponders this, it just makes good sense to know the right of employees, so that you can protect your business.

Introduction:

To an employee, the position that they have with the company is how they are going to be able to live. An employer provides employees with all of the things that are necessary for the employee to exist.  It pays the rent, makes the car payment.  The employee’s job pays the utilities and puts food on the table as well as provides a vehicle for the family to save money for retirement and take vacations.

Many employees are very dedicated to their jobs; they work hard to make ensure that the company meets all company deadlines.  A good employee will work overtime when asked, and a good employee will also show up on time regularly.

Should an employee lose, their job devastation could be the result especially with so much riding on the employee’s job. While it is fair for employers to have certain expectations of their employees, employers must also be aware that employees have rights and that the employer, if he is wise, will endeavor to accommodate those rights.

Let’s take a minute and explore some to the employee rights that employers must be aware of that is unless you want to wind up on the wrong end of an employee lawsuit.

Employees and inspecting their personal file

All employees in California have the right to review their file any time that they want while working for the company.  Upon leaving the company, there is still a window of time that employees can review their file.

Once the employee leaves the employ of the company, a written request will give the employer notification that you want to review and within approximately 21 days the employer must make them available for you to review.

 Labor Laws California: Minimum Wage

In most cases by far employers must pay each employee at the minimum wage.

California Labor Laws:  Non-compete and or arbitration agreements

For the most parts, a non-compete agreement is not worth the paper that it is written on.  For example, if an employee leaves company A and goes to work for company B and company B is a competitor of company A, there is not much company can do about that situation.

However, that does not mean the employee is home free either.  There are things like trades secrets, company customer’s lists and other such information that may not be shared or disclosed.

While arbitration agreements are valid in California the wisdom of having one as far as the employers are kind of like the sea coming going out to tide and then coming back in.  The arbitration agreement must be fair and equitable to all parties.  If an employer sets up the arbitration agreement wrong, then it could become invalid and overruled.

 Rest and Meal Periods

Employees are entitled to take regular breaks.  These include for an eight-hour shift two ten minute breaks, and one 30 minutes uninterrupted meal period.

 Can my employers give an employee a bad reference?

The simple answer to this question is yes.  At California Employers Services we encourage our members to say as little as possible.  Even when telling the general truth things could be spoken out of context, and so, for this reason, we do not encourage employers to give a negative review of an ex-employee.

We encourage employers to answer the dates of employment. And if you are going to say anything and the employer is asked the question would you hire this employee again a simple yes or no will do.

Sexual Harassment in the workplace and employees Rights

Sexual Harassment is illegal. Not only is it illegal but it is happening more than most people want to admit. Many times sexual harassment is expressed in some form of undesirable sexual conduct that comes from another employee in the company. Many times it is a supervisor or management person, or it can also be a vendor.  It does not matter the company is responsible to protect the rights of the company’s employees and keep them free from any form of Sexual Harassment.  Sexual Harassment can take the following forms number one pressure for sexual favors, number two sexual comments or sexual harassment can come in the form of email, or inappropriate jokes, or even having sexually explicit pictures hung where others can see them. The courts recognize and have established that there are two kinds of sexual harassment: one is quid pro quo and hostile work environment. If your advancement is deprived of, or if you are denied any other form of work benefits because you have rejected your supervisor’s sexual demands you could be the victim of quid pro quo harassment.

In a hostile work environment case, the sexually based behavior around you must be unwelcome and so prevalent that it alters the work environment, even if you are not the real mark of the conduct.

The Questions now arise what should I do if I find myself in this situation?

Number one document everything that you can. Keep a record or a journal that would include the who what when and where along with both the date and the time of the action.
Don’t be passive, make sure you tell your harasser that these actions are not welcome. Along with that be firm and tell him or her that this must stop, or you will report them.
Make sure you know what your company’s policy is on reporting an incident of this nature, and usually you will find that in the company’s employee handbook.
Once you have followed the company procedure be prepared to report it to the Department of Fair Housing and Employment should you management team not do anything to help stop the unwanted conduct.
California Labor Laws: Overtime

Overtime, when an employee works over 8 hours in a day or 40 hours in a week, California Labor Laws demand the employee be paid overtime.

Does California Labor Laws Have Restrictions on Job Interviews and Questions?

Ah, the old job interview question. What can employers ask as they interview for the job vs. what they can’t ask?  Right off the bat, let’s get to some things that you can’t ask.

  • You cannot ask a job applicant their age.
  • You cannot ask a job applicant if they have ever been disabled
  • You cannot ask any questions concerning Sexual orientation.
  • You cannot ask about the applicant’s religious association.
  • You also cannot ask if the applicant has ever been arrested
  • Now let’s talk about some of the things that you can ask.

You may ask is there any reason the applicant would not be able to perform the work as described in the interview.
You can ask if the applicant has any further trials arising from any previous arrests.
California Employers Services provide our members with a complete list of questions that can be asked during a job interview.  One of the best practices is to ask the employee what do they think their strongest points and then after talking with them give them a senior and see how they would handle it.

Labor Laws California and  Drug Testing in the Workplace

Employers have the right to drug test all applicants, provided the offer of employment has been offered should the applicant’s drug test come back clean. Things get a little more difficult if you are already employed. If you are a current employee, your employer typically must have some legal or significant interest in necessitating drug testing, such as a reasonable cause to make the employer think that you are using drugs. If your job is considered to be safety sensitive, such as a job driving a passenger bus, your employer has more rights to drug test you, and even without giving you notice.

Employee Discipline

Every employee has the right to be certain that they will be treated “fairly” in the workplace. In California, employers are permitted to discipline employees who could take the following forms (writing or verbal warnings which could result in suspension or demotion.) or fire their employees at will.  At-will employment means that either party either the employer or the employee can terminate the relationship at will with or without cause or notice. Being an at-will employer does not give you the right to discriminate.  You have no right, and it is illegal to fire someone because of race, age, or religious affiliations, or gender.

The at-will policy can also be violated by implied contracts.  Should an employer make a verbal policy that an employee will only be terminated for a good cause, you have just violated your at-will status.  If your employer tells you that the company treats all employees like family, and all employees can work here as long as they want, or words to that effect or even actions can be considered to be an implied contract.

The only real way to see if the at-will status of a company is to end up in court so it is better that if you are an at-will employer make sure you do not promise employment for any length time.  Also, when you terminate an employee make sure that they are not a protected class of employee as we already mentioned.

Discrimination in the Workplace

California Labor Law Requires That Employers must treat all employees fairly.  Employers may not fire or discipline an employee based upon,

  • race
  • sex
  • color
  • National origin
  • Age
  • Religion
  • Disability
  • Marital Status,
  • Medical Condition
  • sexual Orientation
  • Gender Identity

What this means is that your employer cannot fire you just because you are women or a man, or because you may be old.  Many times when an employee becomes pregnant, the employer will want to dismiss her instead of reasonably accommodating her.  All of the above would be in addition to any local laws that may cover some other forms of discrimination.

All employees and employers need to understand that employees have the right to report anything that they may feel discrimination.  The law is clear employers are not to retaliate should an employee report them.  Retaliation is against the law and employers who practice it can be sued.

What Does California Labor Laws Say About  Independent Contractors?

Employment laws do not apply to independent contractors, and the main reason is that they are not employees.  Independent contractors are by definition independent.  That means they work their own hours set their own prices.

They also usually have more than one source of employment.  They may even be employers themselves.  However, employers who hire independent contractors need to be sure that they are in fact independent.  If they do not meet the above conditions, then they are not independent, but rather they are employees, and then the laws concerning employees and employee rights do apply.

 Labor Laws California and Safety in the workplace

All employees in the state of California have the right to work in an environment that is as safe as possible.  If there are unsafe hazards or certain chemicals that may be harmful to your health, your employer must inform you.  Also, to that Cal-OSHA requires all employers to have an Illness and Injury Prevention Program.  Some of the requirements of that program are mentioned below.

  • Every employer must have the safety officer named in the program
  • Hazard Inspections must be done periodically
  • All employers must conduct regular safety training
  • All workplace hazards must be abated, and documentation kept of that abatement.
  • Employees must have a way to report all unsafe work conditions to employer or safety officer
  • Should any company be in violation of any of the above, the employee has a right to report the employer to the enforcement department of Cal-Osha.  When the enforcement team comes out, they have the right and duty to access any and all fines.

Cal-OSHA will be increasing their fines by 80%, so this is something that employers don’t want to play with or ignore.  We encourage all of our members to think safe and be safe.  That way the potential for those high fines no longer exists.

 Time off from work to take care of my child, or my husband or myself for a medical condition that is serious?

In many cases, yes. According to the Federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), you could be entitled to take as much as 12 weeks of unpaid leave without risking your job security if you meet the following criteria:

You have a serious health condition, need to care for a family member with a serious medical condition, cannot work due to pregnancy or childbirth-related condition, or have a new child in the family.
You have worked for the same employer for a total of one year and have worked at least 1,250 hours during the immediately preceding year.
You work for an employer who employs at least 50 workers within a 75-mile radius.
The California Family Rights Act (CFRA) offers like employee rights. And if a pregnancy or childbirth-related condition causes you to be unable to work, you may be allowed up to an additional four months of disability leave under California’s Pregnancy Disability Leave Act.

Before requesting an FMLA/CFRA leave, acquaint yourself with your legal rights and responsibilities. For example, some leaves can be used consecutively or, if medically necessary, intermittently (even a portion of a day at a time) throughout the year. Knowing in advance of requesting your leave will help you to get the most out of your leave.  Employees who are requesting these types of leave must, as a rule, give their employer 30 days’ notice.

Employers do have the right to ask for a doctor’s note.  While your job is normally safe, that is not always the case since the employer does have the right to delete that position from the company.

What about disability and reasonable accommodation?

Yes, it is possible, it is going to depend on the number of employees that the company you work for employs.  If your company employees five or more employee then yes.  The next thing to consider is your ability to perform your job without the need for any reasonable accommodations.

Under California labor law, employers are mandated to accommodate the employee’s disability if the employee is physically disabled or the employee is mentally impaired to a substantial degree. Reasonable accommodation might involve adapting your work schedule to accommodate you, or it could mean the modification of certain equipment thus improving the availability of your work area to you.

For the law to require reasonable accommodation, however, the workplace modification must not pose an undue hardship on the employer.

California Labor Laws And Employee Paycheck Deductions

Below is a list of the deductions that employers can take out of an employee’s check.

  • Losses initiated by the employee’s dishonesty, or the employee’s willful misconduct or gross negligence
  • Particular deductions that you formerly furnished written approval to the employer to make.
  • Food and lodging that has been established with an agreement are also funds the employers may deduct from employees paychecks.  It should be noted that employers may offset the minimum wage by providing food or lodging.

With that being said employers cannot require employees to pay for food or lodging through your job.

Also, wages could be deducted for food and lodging that, are part of your salary. And, under certain situations, an employer can offset minimum wage payments by providing you with food and housing. Your employer cannot, however, necessitate you to pay for meals or housing through your job. And if you have to purchase tools or a special uniform for your job, your employer typically has to compensate you.

Here is a couple of other points concerning deductions from paychecks.  If you have to purchase a special tool or uniform your employer must reimburse you for those items.

Finally, if you owe your employer money from an advance on your pay or if your employee provided you with some kind of loan, the employer make not take the remainder of that balance from your final paycheck should your employment with the company come to an end.  However, if you are on a payment agreement for the loan or pay advance, the employer may deduct that month’s payment from your final check.

Overtime, Rest Periods, and Meal Periods, and Vacations

According to California Labor Laws, Employers must pay overtime when an employee works over 8 hours in a workday or over 40 hours in a work week.

The rate of overtime is 11/2 times the normal rate of pay.  If an employee works 12 or more hours in a day, the first 8 hours are paid at the regular rate of pay.  Hours over 8 to 12 are paid at 11/2 times, and hours 12 and beyond are paid at the rate of twice the regular rate of pay.  If an employee works seven days in a week, the first 8 hours are at 1/12 and any hours over eight are paid at twice the regular rate of pay.

Since the Brinker case, there has been some clarity on meal periods.  All employees must have an opportunity to take a meal break if the employee works over 6 hours in a day.  The meal break should be taken somewhere between the 5th hour of the day but must be taken by the sixth hour of the workday.

Employees can take their meal periods anytime during the day.  In other words, if the employee wants to take his/her meal period after 2 hours of work they may do so.  Since the Brink decision employees also have the right to choose to work through their lunch at the employee’s discretion.  However, wise employers will not allow their employees to make a habit of this, or it could come back and bite the employer.

Each employee is allowed two ten minute breaks, one in the early part of the shift and the other break ideally should be taken after lunch.  The employee does not have to clock out for the ten minutes breaks, but it would not be a bad policy to have them clock out, so the employer has documentation that the employee does get and take their breaks.

In California, Vacations are not an employee right but rather a benefit that is totally up to the employer.  If the employer does provide vacations, it is up the employer to determine how much vacation employees will get.  But if the employer decides to give vacations then he must give them to all employees.  If one employee in a department gets vacations, then all employees in that department must get a vacation.

Employees Getting Injured On The Job And Compensation

In most cases, the answer would be yes as long as your injury is or was job-related.  If your injury is not job-related, then you still may qualify for State Disability Insurance.

When an employee gets injured on the job.

All employers in the state of California must purchase workers compensation insurance.  When it comes to on the job injuries, this is pretty much the employees only source of benefits.

However, if you are hurt due to your negligence, because you violated a company safety rule your benefits could be reduced.

As you can see Labor Laws California are not something to play with.  And today the fines and potential for lawsuits are just not worth the risk.  As I am always telling employers today is just not the time to be out of compliance with the California Labor Laws.

While it is still true that the odds are against you getting caught those odds are decreasing daily, and in addition to that the fine from Cal-Osha and the defense cost from an employee lawsuit could cost an employer over $70,000.00 on both sides, that comes to a $140,000.00 should you get caught in a perfect storm.

Today employers need to make sure that their employee handbook is current, and that they have a good safety program.  If they have employees that are working in temperatures of 90-degree heat or more, they should have an effective safety program in place.

Not only should they have all of these but they need to be doing them.  Cal-OSHA would like to see employers have a safety consultant.  And they say this because they know that most employers are not in compliance, to begin with. Should you have any questions, we are here for you and as we always say the only dumb question is the one that does not get asked.

Labor Laws California: CES Today