by Terri Olson

Here are some “HR Hot Topics” being implemented for 2018, that all employers and business owners must be aware of and comply with as of January 1st, 2018:

(1) “Ban the Box” for all of CA (AB 1008): The Ban the Box legislation affects all California employers with five (5) or more employees. This law prohibits pre-offer inquiries regarding applicants’ conviction histories and regulates employers in their decisions to deny employment to an applicant based on his/her conviction history. This law also requires an individual assessment if withdrawing a job offer after receiving notice of a conviction.

What you NEED to do: Update your employment application and hiring procedures, including the creation of an assessment process should a candidate’s report disclose a criminal history (i.e., how to determine whether that criminal history has a direct and adverse effect on the specific duties of the job offered). Train your hiring managers and supervisors on the impact of this law on their hiring decisions. Adjust for your Los Angeles locations (Los Angeles Fair Chance Hiring Ordinance).

(2) Applicant’s Salary History (AB 168): This bill amends the California Equal Pay Act to prohibit any employer – public or private – from inquiring salary history information of an applicant to determine whether to make an offer or what salary to pay. It also prohibits an employer from seeking salary history information about an applicant, whether orally, in writing, personally or through a manager or third party (e.g., recruiting agency). Salary information includes compensation and “benefits” (undefined). Employers are required, upon reasonable request, to provide the pay scale for a position to an applicant. The bill does not prohibit an applicant from voluntarily and without prompting disclosing salary history information, and does not prohibit an employer from considering or relying on that voluntarily disclosed salary history information in determining salary. However, caution should be used when making decisions with such information.

What You NEED to do: Update your employment applications and hiring procedures. Make sure you have wage ranges for each position to make available upon request. Train all hiring managers on proper interviewing practices including appropriate questions, how to address voluntary provided information, etc. Employers should also consider having a form available for applicants to sign to document a voluntary and unsolicited disclosure of salary information.

(3) Parent Leave Act (SB 63): The New Parent Leave Act provides up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected “baby bonding” leave for mothers and fathers who are employed by employers with 20 or more employees. Basically, this law expands the employee eligibility CFRA. Any employee who has worked for the employer at least 1,250 hours for at least one year and who works at a location with at least 20 employees within 75 miles may take up to 12 weeks of protected time off work to bond with a new child within one year of the child’s birth, adoption or foster care placement. The employer must guarantee that the employee will be reinstated to the same or a comparable position at the end of the leave. The employee is entitled to use accrued vacation pay, paid sick leave or other accrued paid time off during the leave. The employee’s health insurance coverage needs to be maintained at the level and under the conditions that coverage would have been provided had the employee continued to work. For female employees, this leave is in addition to any leave the employee may be eligible for under California Pregnancy Disability Leave. You are not required to grant this leave to parents simultaneously when both are employed by you. The leave may be shared to equal the 12-week maximum.

What You NEED to do: Update your leave of absence policies, procedures, time off request forms and employee handbook. Educate managers on employee eligibility for time off.

(4) Immigration Enforcement (AB 450): Employers cannot allow Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents to enter any non-public areas of the workplace without a subpoena or warrant or to access, review or obtain employee records. Inspection of I-9 records is not included in this law when an employer receives notice of inspection; such compliance is required.
a. Once a notice is received, the employer has 72 hours to post a workplace notice to employees or give notice to a collective bargaining representative.
b. If results of an I-9 inspection provides the employer with notice of an employee(s) whose work authorization documents are deficient, the employee(s) must be given a copy of employers and employee’s obligations hand delivered or, if unable to do so, by e-mail or mail within 72-hours.
c. Employers violating this law will be subject to hefty civil penalties of $2,000-5,000 for the first violation and $5,000-10,000 for each subsequent violation.

What You NEED to do: Review your I-9 procedures to ensure you are compliant within the law. Do not re-verify employees you may suspect of having illegal documentation. Communicate with management on how to address any unplanned/unannounced visit from ICE.

(5) Department of Labor Standards Enforcement Actions (SB 306): Authorizes the Department of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) to commence an investigation of an employer, with or without a complaint being filed, when specified retaliation or discrimination is suspected during a wage claim or other specified investigation being conducted by the Labor Commissioner. Furthermore, employers who willfully refuse to comply are subject to a penalty of $100 per day for each day the employer continues to be in noncompliance with the court order, up to a maximum of $20,000.

What You NEED to do: Be very careful when an employee complains about his/her pay. Should you involuntarily terminate the employee for performance after such a complaint, there is the potential that the employee could file a claim for retaliation based on his/her protected whistleblower status.

(6) Employers E-filing with the Employment Development Department (EDD): All employers will be required to electronically submit employment tax returns, wage reports, and payroll tax deposits to the Employment Development Department (EDD) beginning January 1, 2018. This requirement was already in place for employers with 10 or more employees. All remaining employers are required to begin reporting and paying electronically with their 2018 payroll or as soon as they report having 10 or more employees, whichever happens first.

(7) California Minimum Wage Increases:

Increases* 26 Employees or more 25 Employees or less
$10.50/hour January 1, 2017 January 1, 2018
$11.00/hour January 1, 2018 January 1, 2019
$12.00/hour January 1, 2019 January 1, 2020
$13.00/hour January 1, 2020 January 1, 2021
$14.00/hour January 1, 2021 January 1, 2022
$15.00/hour January 1, 2022 January 1, 2023

*Represents California State only; individual cities may have other minimum wage changes. Also, other states have increases – Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Maine, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico*, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington*
*Minimum wage update applies only to city or county

(8) IRS Mileage Rates:

The IRS standard mileage rates for the use of a car (also vans, pickups or panel trucks) for 2018 are not posted yet. The current posted rates are:

o 53.5 cents per mile for business miles driven
o 17 cents per mile driven for medical or moving purposes
o 14 cents per mile driven in service of charitable organizations.

Ms. Terri Olson (phone: 714-441-2422, email: founded HR Prescriptions in January 2000 for the sole purpose of helping small and mid-size employers deal with the complexities of managing their human capital. In acting as her clients’ on and off-site HR Director, her philosophy has been to keep it simple. She only recommends what the client needs to enhance their employees’ performance and protect their business from legal exposure for non-compliance of State and Federal regulations. After spending most of her career in the corporate world, Terri began her own venture as an independent consultant. As an outsourcing specialist, her focus is on providing an on- and off-site HR professional for small to mid-sized companies. Her clients have come to trust her to give honest and simplified advice to minimize the risks in managing their most valuable asset…their employees. She provides a bottom-line, pro-active approach to people management, consulting and coaching with a business partner mentality. Her experience offers real-world insight of what works and doesn’t work in today’s rapidly changing workplace environment.

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