Since January 1, 2012, California employers have been bound to comply with the state’s new Wage Theft Prevention Act, set forth at Cal. Lab. Code Section 2810.5. The WTPA amended the California Labor Code to require that employers provide new hires with a written notice that specifies: the employee’s rate of pay;
- the allowances and regular payday designated by the employer;
- the employer’s name, address and telephone number;
- the name address and telephone number of the employer’s worker’s compensation provider; and
- “any other information the Labor Commissioner deems material and necessary.”
Just days before the WTPA took effect, the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement released a recommended template for the notice, along with a list of answers to Frequently Asked Questions about compliance with the new law.
Unfortunately, in its efforts to clarify the requirements of the WTPA, the DLSE has created further ambiguities. For instance, the template uses vague terms such as “worksite employer” that the DLSE does not define and that do not appear elsewhere in California employment law. In addition, the template includes check boxes to indicate whether the employee has an oral or written employment contract, but does not include any space for the employer to note that employment is at will. As the last 10 years have shown, where California law is ambiguous as to an employer’s wage and hour obligations, litigation is sure to follow.
In order to put your company in the best position to withstand any claims arising from the WTPA, we recommend that you prepare a modified WTPA notice. Such a notice should include all of the information listed on the DLSE’s model template, but should also state your company’s position regarding employment at will and clarify any terms in the DLSE’s model template that are ambiguous as applied to your company. If you would like assistance in preparing such a template, please contact John R. Carrigan, Jr., in our Los Angeles office.