NEW YEAR – NEW LAWS

Erica Sorosky

We have outlined for employers some of the more relevant new and amended legislation for 2017. Please do not hesitate to contact us should you have any questions regarding how this will affect your business and/or employee handbook.

SAMPLING OF NEW EMPLOYMENT LAWS FOR 2017

AB 54 - ADA - Allows for a certified access specialist (CASp) expense to be eligible as an access expenditure for tax deduction purposes of up to $250.

AB 1676 - Employee salary information - Codifies EEOC regulations and court case decisions that an employer cannot rely on prior salary, by itself, to justify any disparity in compensation.

AB 1732 - Single-user restrooms - Requires restroom facilities with one toilet and/or urinal and one sink, with a door that the user can lock from the inside to be designated as an all gender toilet facility.

AB 1875 - Cell phones: driving restrictions - Beginning in 2017, the new law prohibits drivers from holding and operating cell phones for any reason other than for functions that require only the motion of a single swipe or tap of the driver’s finger, and only if the devices are actually mounted in some type of holder on the vehicle’s windshield or on the dashboard.

AB 2535 - Itemized wage statements - An employer only needs to track the hours of non-exempt employees.

AB 2883 - Workers comp insurance for officer/director - Beginning January 1, 2017 all workers’ compensation insurance policies will be required to cover certain officers and directors of private and quasi-public corporations and working members of partnerships and limited liability companies who may have been previously excluded from coverage. Below are key details to note:
• A Corporate Officer/Director must own 15% or more of the corporation’s issued and outstanding stock to be eligible to elect exclusion from WC coverage.
• A General Partner of a Partnership, or a Managing-Member of a LLC, is eligible to elect exclusion from the WC policy (Note – the 15% ownership requirement does not apply to General Partners and Managing Members).
• Each eligible Corporate Officer/Corporate Director/General Partner/Managing-Member must sign a new waiver attesting to his/her qualification to be excluded, under penalty of perjury. The new waiver(s) will replace any current Exclusion Letter.
• AB 2883 has eliminated the requirement that 100% of the stock must be held by titled Officers/Directors in order for a Corporate Officer/Director to be eligible for exclusion.
AB 2889 - Minimum wage violations: challenges - Requires that before appealing a decision by the Labor Commissioner, whether an employee filed the original claim or the Labor Commissioner issued the citation, employers must post a bond to ensure employees receive any payments owed to them.

SB 3 - Minimum wage - On January 1, 2017, employers with 26 or more employees will be required to pay at least $10.50 per hour.

SB 1063 - Wage differentials - Expands existing law (gender equity law) to also prohibit an employer from paying any of its employees at wage rates less than rates paid to employees of another race or ethnicity for substantially similar work.

SB 1234 - California retirement savings plan - To be administered by the California Retirement Savings Investment Board (Board). Once the Board officially opens the California Retirement Savings Plan for enrollment, employers will need to make the plan available to their employees and use their payroll system to directly deposit employee contributions into the retirement savings plan.

Employers that do not offer their own retirement plans (such as a 401(k)) would have to perform the duty of allowing their workers to access their payroll system to send automatic employee contributions to the plan. Employers with 100+ employees must make the CRSP available to their employees and allow them to access their payroll system within 3 months of the Board opening the program for enrollment; employers with 50+ employees just do so within 6 months, and employers with 5+ employees must do so within 9 months. The employee default savings amount would be set at 3%. Employees that do not want to enroll and make contributions to the CRSP must act to opt-out at any time after enrollment.

If employers without a workplace retirement plan do not make their payroll system available for employees to remit retirement savings contributions, the Employment Development Department (EDD) will be allowed to assess and collect a penalty against the employer.

SB 1241 - Employment contracts: adjudication: choice of law and forum - Invalidates provisions in employment contracts requiring employees to arbitrate or litigate controversies outside California, or that designate other than California law as the choice of law to be applied.

SBX2-5 - E-cigarette restrictions - Broadens the definition of "tobacco product" in current law to include electronic cigarettes. Extends current restrictions and prohibitions against the use of tobacco products to electronic cigarettes.

SBX2-7 - Tobacco products: minimum legal age - Raises the legal age to purchase or consume tobacco products from 18 to 21 years of age.

CITY/COUNTY SPECIFIC MINIMUM WAGE/
PAID SICK LEAVE LAWS

County of Los Angeles/Cities of Los Angeles, Malibu, Pasadena & Santa Monica - Minimum Wage - On July 1, 2017, employers with 26 or more employees will be required to pay a minimum wage of $12 per hour. Employers with 25 or less employees will be required to pay a minimum wage of $10.50 per hour.

City of Los Angeles - Paid Sick Leave - On July 1, 2017, employers with 25 or fewer employees will be required to provide 6 days of paid sick leave to employees. Employers shall provide 48 hours (6 days) of sick leave either at the beginning of each year of employment, calendar year or 12-month period, or by providing the employee one hour of sick leave per every 30 hours worked. Accrued unused paid sick leave carries over to the following year and may be capped at 72 hours.

City of San Diego - Minimum Wage & Paid Sick Leave - Current Rate: $10.50 per hour. Effective January 1, 2017, the new minimum wage rate will be $11.50 per hour followed by annual adjustments for inflation on January 1, 2019. Includes 5 days of paid sick leave.

The above have been identified as some of the generally applicable new laws most directly affecting employers in Orange County. Not all the above may affect every employer, and there may be other new laws not listed above that may affect some employers. The above are only brief summaries and do not constitute legal advice. Please contact Erica M. Sorosky, a Partner in the Business Litigation Group and employment law practitioner, should you have any questions at: esorosky@ptwww.com or (949) 851-7271.

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