A Snapshot of California’s New Employment Laws

Author: Nicki Malekadeli
Posted on: November 4, 2019

California has become one of the best states for employee rights. An important aspect of a nation’s inclusive growth is workers’ conditions. Workers are the backbone of the economy, and their quality of life and employment status are a manifestation of the health of the economy. 

The government is one of the key actors in implementing better privileges for workers. Thus, officials have a duty to their citizens to become catalysts for better societal change. 

Governor Newsom is one of the public officials who responded to his duty of bringing change to the people of California. He has been an important figure in improving California’s employment laws. Recently, Newsom signed 99 bills into law. A big portion of those 99 laws addresses employment and worker’s rights. The following are some of the issues tackled by these new laws:

Fair Wages

Throughout history, employees have suffered unfair wages. Apart from healthy working conditions, workers deserve to have fair compensation for their work. One of the steps done for the assurance of fair wages is to set a minimum wage. 

A minimum wage must allow an individual to sufficiently live in a society. With the minimum wage, a citizen must be able to live a decent life with enough food on the table, a house, some emergency expenses, and the ability to engage in leisure activities once in a while.

However, until this period, there are still employers who opt not to pay minimum wage to their workers. It is only appropriate for the government to take action against these abusive employers.

SB 688: Unpaid Wages

The SB 688 is an amendment to Labor Code § 1197.1. Before accepting workers in their company, some owners legally agree to pay wages that are higher than the minimum threshold. However, some of these companies do not comply with the pre-employment agreement.

The Labor Code § 1197.1 authorizes the Labor Commissioner to call employers to appear on the court if they have failed to pay the minimum wage. Through SB 688, the Labor Commissioner can also issue a writ to employers who failed to comply with agreed wage terms.

Gender Sensitivity and Anti-Harassment

Harassment issues persist in workplaces. Often, owners are more concerned about their companies’ reputation than their workers’ wellbeing. Thus, the government must take action concerning the said conflict of interest.

The proper authorities should protect all citizens from any kind of discrimination. But, it is not enough to act regarding harassment cases; it is also important to prevent discriminatory and harassment cases through prevention training.

SB 530: Harassment and Discrimination Prevention Training

Every company is required to conduct training about sexual harassment. Through SB 530, companies will be compelled to extend this type of training until the first day of January 2021. This kind of sexual harassment training is for employees who will work for half a year.

AB 547: Sexual Violation and Harassment Prevention Training in the Janitorial Industry

Some organizations are eligible to conduct training sessions regarding sexual harassment prevention. Through the AB 547, the Department of Industrial Relations’ director must form a committee responsible for certifying training-equipped organizations. This act ensures the credibility of facts and activities presented to those who need the training.

Worker’s Mental Health

First responders like firefighters, lifeguards, and emergency workers are susceptible to post-traumatic stress disorder. There are offered support for the physical illnesses they might have, but there is limited aid for the mental burden of being first respondents.

Thus, included in Gavin Newsom’s new laws are concerning the mental health of first responders. These are aimed at improving the care for workers’ mental and physical well-being.

AB 1116: The California Firefighter Peer Support and Crisis Referral Services Act

Peer support is an essential aspect in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder. Thus, AB 1116 seeks to establish a network of support groups throughout the state of California. These support groups will help workers deal with their mental health and work-related issues.

To be able to effectively help the community, emergency workers first need to be physically and emotionally prepared for the job. This California employment law ensures that these kinds of employees are given the utmost guidance they need to healthily fulfill their duties.

SB 542: The Trauma Treatment Act

SB 542 allows firefighters and law enforcement workers to receive compensation for the psychological injuries they obtained during the performance of duty. It is crucial to recognize these types of injuries since they cause some first responders to commit self-harm. 

The act also destigmatizes the existence of post-traumatic stress disorder. In tasks that challenge an employee’s mental stability, there is always a risk of having this kind of disorder. Thus, it is more beneficial to provide the necessary amends to these workers who sacrifice their lives to save others.

These new laws bring new hope to California employees. But while the state boasts the best rights and privileges to workers, there are many employers that fail to comply. Should you have issues with your employer, feel free to seek legal advice from our seasoned labor law attorneys in Los Angeles. 

Schedule a free consultation today.