Proposed Bills May Bring Big Changes To California Employment Laws

05/29/2013 // Keller Grover LLP // (press release)

The California employment law landscape is always changing, as each year ushers in new proposed bills that alter existing labor laws and create new ones. As the February deadline to introduce new bills in the California legislature has come and gone, it’s important that workers know what is on the horizon, says Los Angeles employment lawyer Eric Grover.

Big changes could be looming, as several proposed bills will be tackling wage issues, online privacy for employees, and flexible work schedules.

Wage Issues:

A proposed bill, AB 10, reflects the minimum wage hike movement that has swept across the country. Under this bill California minimum wage would increase to $8.25 an hour in 2014. Then in 2015, it would increase again to $8.75 and to $9.25 an hour in 2016. AB 10 also would prevent the Industrial Welfare Commission from reducing the minimum wage in years when inflation levels go down, securing the wage hikes.

Another bill, AB 228, addresses employers who fail to pay an employee all owed wages at the time of termination. Under current laws, the employer must pay “waiting time penalties” for every day the wages remain unpaid to the terminated employee. The penalty is equivalent to the amount of the employee’s normal daily pay, and the meter runs for 30 days. If it passes, AB 228 would reverse course somewhat and allow the labor commission to waive penalties for employers for delayed payment if they have not delayed paying fired employees at any time in the past. It also requires that the claim is satisfied within 30 days.

Farm laborers may also be experiencing changes. Under SB 168, if a farming operation were sold to a new owner, that new owner would be responsible for all wages and penalties owed by the previous owner, under certain conditions. The goal is to prevent farm workers from losing out when the labor contractor changes hands.

Employee Online Privacy:

Social media and its place in the workplace has created heated debates over the last few years, but AB 25 attempts to put an end to employers infringing on an employee’s privacy. AB 25 would prohibit employers from requiring or requesting the user name or password from employees and prospective employees in order to access their social media accounts.

Flexible Schedules:

Employers and employees who are interested in establishing flexible work schedules may get the backing they need. SB 607 would give more flexibility to non-unionized workplaces, by allowing employees to work four 10-hour days per week, instead of the traditional five 8-hour workdays. Currently, non-unionized workplaces must pay employees overtime wages for time worked in excess of eight hours a day, preventing many employers from even considering more flexible schedules. Under SB 607, employers would still have to pay overtime wages to those who work an excess of 10 hour per day on a flexible schedule.

These new California bills, if passed by the legislature, could change the workplace landscape and have an affect on employment laws and certain protections for workers. Some of the proposals may tend to benefit employers to a greater extent and some are designed to benefit workers. It is important that workers stay informed about which of these are adopted and what the effect will be on their livelihood, if any, adds Los Angeles employment attorney Eric Grover.

Source: Los Angeles wage and hour lawyers of Keller Grover, LLP

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