Sometimes you just need help with that one piece...
It can all come together
Creating the Sustainable Workplace in 2017:
What You Need to Know to Reduce Your Risk
Fall is here.  The leaves are changing, and so are the laws!  It is only October, and the California Legislature and the Governor have been busy.  We have detailed below the changes we think are most important to date in 2017 for your workplace.  As always, please call with any questions. 
Changes to Make Today Based on New Laws
From hire to termination, these new laws impact every stage of the employment relationship.  Read carefully, a couple of them require significant departures from what likely are your traditional practices.  
1.       Meaningful Changes to an Employer's Ability to Collect and Rely on Criminal Convictions.  Effective January 1, 2018, the Fair Employment and Housing Act will include new restrictions on an employer's ability to make pre-hire and during-employment decisions based on an individual's criminal history.  California employers with five or more employees are prohibited from asking any applicant to disclose conviction information until the applicant is determined otherwise qualified for the position.  Specifically, employers no longer may:
     -     Include on an application for employment any question that seeks the disclosure of an applicant's conviction history;
     -     Inquire into or consider the conviction history of an applicant before the applicant receives a conditional offer of employment.
Also under the new law, . . .  click here for more.
2.     Employers May no Longer Request or Rely on Salary History.   Effective January 1, 2018, employers may not request (either verbally or in writing) and may not rely upon an applicant's prior salary history as a factor in determining whether to offer employment.  Employers also are prohibited from considering that amount in determining the compensation to offer an applicant.  Upon reasonable request, an employer is required to provide an applicant with the Company's pay scale for the relevant position.  As a limited exception: employers may review and consider salary history that is publicly available pursuant to federal or state law.  Also, if an applicant volunteers the information without prompting, the employer may consider and rely on that salary history.  Be sure to check the various other state and city laws on this as well.  For example, San Francisco has an even more rigorous law on this subject.  
3.     California Employers with 20 - 49 Employees within a 75 Mile Radius Must Provide Parental Leave.  Effective Janaury 1, 2018, an employee with more than 12 months of service with the employer, who has least 1,250 hours of service during the previous 12-month period, and who works at a worksite in which the employer employs at least 20 employees within 75 miles, is eligible to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid parental leave to bond with a new child within one year of the child's birth, adoption, or foster care placement.  The employee must return to the same or a comparable position at the conclusion of the leave.  The employee is entitled to utilize accrued vacation pay, paid sick time, accrued paid time off (or other paid or unpaid time off with approval from the employer), during the period of Parental Leave.  Medical insurance must be maintained during Parental Leave, just as it is during active employment.  Because pregnancy disability leave does not run during this Parental Leave, an employee could be eligible for up to four months off for Pregnancy Disability Leave, and another 12 weeks off under this new Parental Leave Act.   
4.    Discrimination Laws are Expanded for Military Service Members.  Effective January 1, 2018, the laws against discriminating on the basis of military or veteran status are expanded to include not only the denial of or disqualification from employment based on military service, but also discrimination in the "terms, conditions, or privileges" of employment. 

5.     Sexual Harassment Laws are Expanded to Protect Transgender EmployeesEmployers with five or more employees are required to post a Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) notice (stay tuned for the notice itself) regarding transgender rights.  Sexual harassment training mandated for employers with 50 or more employees must now include training on prohibiting harassment based on gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation.  Further, in order to be issued a farm contractor license, a farm labor contractor must provide sexual harassment training to all personnel, including supervisory and agricultural employees, and must provide the issuing entity a list of all the anti-harassment training materials or resources used in the prior calendar year.  The training must be in a language understood by the employees.
From our Guest Expert: Jeanne Malitz Shares Insights on New Immigration Laws
This year already has resulted in meaningful new immigration laws.  We asked Jeanne Malitz, Malitz Law, to share her insights in immigration law on the content and impact of the recent developments.  

1.    Limits on and Requirements for Cooperating with Federal Immigration Agents in the Workplace.  Effective January 1, 2018, a judicial warrant must be issued in order for a Federal Agent to enter and/or search non-public areas of a public or private employer's premises.  This new law (AB450) also allows employers to challenge the validity of the judicial warrant or subpoena in federal court.  This essentially eliminates an employer's ability to voluntarily consent to a search of private areas of its premises.  The law also prohibits an employer from providing employee records without a search warrant or subpoena.  I-9s are specifically excepted from this part of the rule.  Employers will be required to post at the worksite notice of an I-9 audit within 72 hours of receipt of the notice. Employers also are required to provide notice of the results of the audit to individual employees affected by the audit, without disclosing the names of other employees.  Employers also are prohibited from reverifying an employee's work authorization documents, except as required under IRCA - in other words, only at the time that work authorization is about to expire. There are considerable fines for violations of these rules: $2,000 to $10,000 per violation depending on whether it is a first or subsequent offense. The fine for a violation of the reverification provision is $10,000. 
2.     Make Sure You are Using the Most Up to Date I-9 form.  In July 2017 the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service released a new version of the Form I-9 (Employee Eligibility Verification).  Beginning September 18, 2017 employers are required to use the new form on a going forward basis. As a reminder, employees need to provide proof of their authorization to work in the U.S. within three days of their hire date in order to continue employment.  And you need to provide employees with the three days.  Here is a link to the USCIS website where you can find the new I-9 form.
And here is a link to Jeanne's website! 

Preventing Liability and Increasing Enthusiasm 
How Can We Help?
Here are a few ideas for what you might do in response to the above changes:

1.      Audit Your New Hire and Onboarding Practices.  Do your application, offer letter and onboarding practices accurately reflect the new laws?  This would be a great time to edit those practices.  And while you are at it, why not take a look at whether your new hire and onboarding practices are helping you find the best candidates!      
2.     Review Your Handbook and Employment Practices.  Are your policies in compliance with the latest laws?  Are you asking the right questions?  Sending the right letters?  Calendaring the right dates?  We can help ensure your policies and practices are up to date.  And we can help you establish systems for calculating and tracking time off, all for the ease and peace of mind for both employee and the Company.  
3.     Are Your Managers' Conversations Creating Risk for Them and For Your Company We know we say this a lot.  And, what we know is that what your managers do and what they don't do can make the difference in whether your Company does or does not have exposure.  More importantly, what your managers do (or don't do) probably is the single most significant impact on whether your employees go the extra mile, or dial it in. 
Our mission is to help our clients to create productive workplaces that are protected from liability.  We would love to partner with you to make your workplace thrive.   If you have a question on anything in this handbook, please let us know