Employers in California should take note of three recent updates to California law that impact required training, posters, and notices.

Legislature considering one-year extension to provide harassment prevention training to non-supervisory employees (SB 778)

In September 2018, the California Legislature passed SB 1343, requiring employers with five or more employees to provide one hour of sexual harassment prevention training to non-supervisory employees, in addition to the existing requirement of two hours of such training to supervisory employees. Both supervisors and employees must be retrained every two years. 

The California Legislature is currently considering SB 778, which would make the following changes:

  • the deadline to provide the initial, one-hour training to non-supervisory employees would be extended by one year (from January 1, 2020 to January 1, 2021);
  • employers who provide compliant training in 2019 may wait two years to retrain;
  • new employees must receive training within six months of hire; and,
  • newly promoted employees must receive supervisor training within six months of promotion to a supervisory role. 

The trainings must satisfy several requirements, including that they be “effective, interactive” training, and that they cover topics including “abusive conduct” (bullying) and harassment based on gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation. The California governor has not signed SB 778 into law yet, so employers should track it and comply as if it is not law yet.

New posting requirement for family and medical leaves (2 Cal. Code. Regs. 11095)

Effective April 1, 2019, employers must post an updated version of the Family Care and Medical Leave and Pregnancy Disability Leave poster, available here in English and here in Spanish, from the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (“DFEH”).Employers must translate the notice into any language(s) spoken by at least ten percent of the workforce. 

In addition to posting the new notice in a conspicuous location at each worksite, employers are “encouraged” to provide a copy of the notice to every new and current employee and to ensure that copies are available for employees’ reference.At a minimum, in addition to updating postings, employers should ensure that the new notices are included in materials provided to new employees. 

New health certification forms for CFRA-qualifying leave

Effective March 2019, the DFEH has updated its model Certification of Health Care Provider Form for employees who request leave under the California Family Rights Act and/or the Family and Medical Leave Act. The new model form, which reflects the limitations on the information requested when certifying family and medical leaves, is available here

Employers may use either the DFEH model form or their own form, but any employer-provided forms should be reviewed to ensure that they do not seek additional information not included in the DFEH model form.   

Practical Takeaway

The above mid-year updates may be overlooked, but may lead to: technical violations of statutes, and “bad facts” in litigation on more significant claims for harassment; failure to provide leave; and wrongful termination in retaliation for the same. Employers should update internal processes and practices to incorporate these changes.