California issues minor legal amendments to create better workplaces

May 21, 201512:44 pm606 views
California issues minor legal amendments to create better workplaces
California amends its labour laws to allure and attract talent pool globally

California continues to lead the pace of change to create better workplaces for employers and employees alike. The country is soon introducing minor amendments to the legal framework to reduce obligation of employers and expand right of employees in the workplaces.

It is not a matter of surprise to many HR analysts and employers, that the proposed amendments in the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) offers employees with different types of leaves and extends protection to almost 20 protected classes, XpertHR UK reports.

The laws in California that govern employers, to be good to employees at work are as:

  1. No abusive conduct in the workplace

According a new California law that came into effect from January 1, 2015, all employers must provide sexual harassment training to supervisors and this includes specific training to handle abusive conduct at workplaces as well.  The law defines abusive conduct as a conduct that, an “a reasonable person would find hostile, offensive, and unrelated to an employer’s legitimate business interests.

“It may include repeated infliction of verbal abuse… verbal or physical conduct that a reasonable person would find threatening, intimidating, or humiliating, or the gratuitous sabotage or undermining of a person’s work performance.” According to the law, there is no private cause of action for abusive conduct and this requires employers to revise and revisit their sexual harassment training.

See: Fixing the Workplace Culture for Our Own Good

  1. Better protection for immigrant workforce

With the flush of US immigrants entering California workforce, some legal measures have been passed for increased protection of foreign workers in 2015.

  • The law prohibits threatening to report a worker or worker’s family member’s immigration status or suspected immigration status to a government official because the worker exercised a right under the California labor code.
  • The definition unfair-immigration related practice gets expanded to include threatening to file a report, filing a false report or complaint with any state or federal agency.
  • The law prohibits employers from retaliating, discriminating or taking adverse actions against employees based on lawful change of social security number, federal employment authorization document or change of name.
  • It is considered as a violation under FEHA if an employer requires an individual to present driver’s license unless it is an absolute need as per the law.
  1. Protecting volunteers and interns from discrimination

Internships are often the most chosen route to securing opportunity in a particular field of interest to learn and gain exposure. The amended FEHA does away with all uncertainties and extends protection to interns against harassment of unpaid labor and discrimination. Employers are also required to provide volunteers and interns with decent accommodation based on their religious beliefs. The employers are also required to update their harassment and discrimination policies to comply.

New Jersey and Connecticut have proposed similar laws recently. Employers in Maryland, Illinois, Oregon, New York, and the District of Columbia should make a note of these changes in 2015.

  1. Paid Sick Leave is your right

Only three states in US, including California have paid sick leave laws in place. As per the Healthy Families Act of 2014, it implies that employers in California must provide paid sick leaves to any employee working in California for 30 days at an accrual rate of one hour for every 30 hours worked.

This law comes into effect from July 1, 2015 and it is required that all employers maintain a stringent record keeping system, update their employee handbooks and paid time off policies from time to time.

See also: Five construction companies charged for breaching employment laws

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