Baby Steps for Employers: Five Ways to Comply With California's Employment Laws
Posted March 12, 2018

It's daunting to be a California employer! You try your best to treat your people well and to keep up with a seemingly infinite number of employment laws. It can be overwhelming, resulting in paralysis by analysis. Here are five "baby step" action items to jump start the process:

  1. Create a compliant employment application. This year, California joined the "ban-the-box" movement, barring employers from inquiring about an applicant's criminal history on the employment application (in fact, until after a conditional offer of employment has been made). California also now prohibits all inquiries into an applicant's pay history. There are a number of other application hot spots, so let's clean it up together!
  2. Update your employee handbook. This past legislative session, our state government gave us 80+ new employment-related laws. Have you updated your handbook to capture those new law changes? For example, companies with 20 to 49 employees within 75 miles of each other must now provide their employees with up to 12 weeks of job-protected leave under the New Parental Leave Act. Is your leave section up to par?
  3. Schedule a harassment prevention training. We are all aware of the current trends - "#metoo," "#timesup" - it's time to take proactive preventative action to implement a solid harassment-avoidance plan. Whether you have over 50 employees or not, the safest approach is to train both your management and your rank-and-file employees. LightGabler offers management and staff trainings on harassment and a variety of other topics.
  4. Audit your paystubs. Labor Code section 226(a) lists nine items you must have on your paystub, along with the sick time accrual (which employees must receive each pay period, so the paystub is the logical place to document all paid time off). A missing start of the pay period or incorrect company name on the paystub (not just on the check), can result in thousands of dollars of penalties per employee each pay period.
  5. Recalculate your overtime bonus calculations. On March 5, 2018, the California Supreme Court clarified the correct formula for calculating the required overtime increase on a non-discretionary flat sum bonus. In our experience, many employers do the calculation incorrectly, or not at all! Unfortunately, the Court made this liability retroactive, exposing employers to four years of potential liability. There is a simple way to calculate the increase in a bonus based on overtime worked, and we can walk you through the process quickly.

These five baby steps to compliance are just a few ways that forward-thinking employers can stay ahead of California's litany of compliance "gotchas." A little preventative action can go a long way to thwart costly lawsuits, and, even worse, devastating class actions.

For employers who want to be more proactive, LightGabler has developed a 27-point Human Resources Checklist that we can review with you. The process takes about two hours to complete, and we guarantee that it will get you that much closer to the ultimate goal of complete compliance.

For assistance with any of these items, participation in the Human Resources Checklist process, or questions regarding hiring, contact the employment attorneys at LightGabler.