California has several new laws affecting employers. Among them are the following:

All Gender Restroom Law

Assembly Bill 1732, which was signed by Governor Brown in late September, concerns all single-occupancy restrooms in any business establishment, place of public accommodation, or government agency. The restroom must be identified as "all gender" and be universally accessible. The law becomes effective on March, 1, 2017. The bathrooms to which this law applies are toilet facilities with no more than one water closet and one urinal and with a locking mechanism controlled by the user.

Public inspectors or building officials may check for compliance during any inspection. Therefore, employers should immediately change all signage used for their single-user restrooms to ensure none are designated as male or female only.

California's new law comes into effect following the Department of Fair Employment & Housing's (DFEH's) guidance issued in early 2016 requiring employers to allow transgender employees access to restroom and locker room facilities which correspond to their gender identity.

The DFEH's guidance parallels an April 2015 decision of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission under federal law and a June 2015 "Guide to Restroom Access for Transgender Workers" published by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Background Checks

The Governor also signed Assembly Bill 1843 which amends California Labor Code Section 432.7 relating to permissible inquiries about the criminal backgrounds of job applicants. The law will now prohibit employers from asking an applicant about or considering any juvenile court matter. This becomes effective January 1, 2017.

Mandatory Retirement Plan

Senate Bill 1234, signed by Governor Brown on September 29, 2016, requires employers in California with at least five employees to eventually offer a retirement savings plan or make automatic payroll deposits into a state-sponsored program. The program will be rolled out in phases, and the employer mandate won't take effect until at least 2018.

The California Secure Choice Retirement Program will require covered private-sector employers that don't already offer a plan—like a 401(k)—to enroll their employees in the program. However, workers who don't want to participate will be able to opt out.

The law establishes some broad parameters for the program, but many of the details still need to be worked out.