The California Legislature has passed the following notable labor and employment bills, which are now awaiting approval or veto by Governor Brown:
AB 1897 – This bill would expand liability for a contractor’s wage and hour violations to make the hirer of the contractor jointly liable for the contractor’s wage and hour violations. The bill applies to businesses that obtain workers from labor contractors but excludes businesses that have less than 25 workers (including those obtained from a labor contractor) as well as businesses that have less than 5 workers supplied by a labor contractor at any given time. The bill excludes certain employee leasing entities and also excludes workers who are exempt from overtime under California laws.
AB 1522 – This bill would mandate that private California employers provide paid sick leave for employees, beginning in July 2015. If the bill is signed into law, most employees will be entitled to one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked. Employees will be able to use sick leave for their own illness or for preventive care, to care for a sick family member, and/or to recover from certain crimes. Employers will be able to cap annual sick leave use at 3 days (24 hours) per year, however unused, accrued sick leave will roll over from year to year (this rollover can be capped at no less than 6 days (48 hours). Employers will be able to set a minimum increment for use of sick leave, but the minimum increment cannot be greater than 2 hours. Employees will not be entitled to pay for unused sick leave at the time of separation of employment. Employers will be required to provide notice to employees of their accrued sick leave on their itemized wage statements or on a separate document provided at the same time as wages. Employers will also be required to post a paid sick leave poster to be prepared by the Labor Commissioner’s office. The bill also prohibits retaliation against an employee for using sick leave and establishes a rebuttable presumption of such retaliation if adverse action is taken against an employee within 30 days after the employee’s use of sick leave. Employees covered by collective bargaining agreements with paid sick leave provisions and other enumerated criteria will be exempted from the new law. Employers that already have paid sick leave policies that comply with at least the minimum leave rights provided under the bill will not be required to provide additional leave.
In addition to the foregoing, Governor Brown already signed into law AB 2074, which increases employer liability in actions alleging the employer paid the employee less than the minimum wage. Under AB 2074, employees will now be able to recover liquidated damages for violations going back three years (4 years under the Unfair Competition Law).
If there is any positive news for California employers, it is that AB 2416 was not passed by the Legislature. AB 2416 would have provided a procedure for an employee with a wage claim against his or her employer to record a lien against the employer’s real and personal property in the state.
Governor Brown has until September 30 to sign or veto the bills pending before him. Employers who wish to voice opposition should direct comments to the Governor’s office.