With summer upon us, the California legislature is busy working on bills that could impact employers.  Here are five employment bills being considered by the state legislature that California employers should keep an eye on:

1. SB 3 – Increase in minimum wage and indexing to inflation

Currently, California minimum wage is set to increase from $9.00 per hour to $10.00 per hour on January 1, 2016.  This bill proposes to increase the minimum wage to $11 per hour on January 1, 2016, and then again to $13 per hour by July 1, 2017.  Then, beginning on January 1, 2019, minimum wage would be indexed to inflation and would be adjusted upward every January 1 thereafter.

2. SB 406 – Broadening scope of employees and employers covered by California Family Rights Act

Currently, the California Family Rights Act requires employers with 50 or more employees within a 75 mile radius to provide up to 12 workweeks of unpaid leave for certain medical issues.  This leave is job protected leave, so the employer must provide the same job to the employee upon their return from leave.  This bill would expand coverage of the law to employers with 25 or more employees.  It would also expand the employees covered and purposes for which leave is required to be provided (for example, removing any restrictions on age or dependent status in the definition of “child”).

3.  AB 359 – Employee retention mandate for grocery stores

This bill would require any purchaser of an existing grocery store to hire the employees of the previous owner and employ them for 90 days.  The bill prohibits the new owner from terminating any employees without cause during the 90-day period, and then “consider offering continued employment to those workers.”

4.  AB 465 – Prohibiting mandatory employment arbitration agreements

This bill would prohibit “any person from requiring another person, as a condition of employment, to agree to the waiver of any legal right, penalty, forum, or procedure for any employment law violations.”  The bill also shifts the burden of proof onto the employer enforcing the waiver to show that the waiver was “knowing and voluntary.”  The bill is seeking to limit the use of arbitration agreements in the employment context.  Should an employer violate this bill, the penalty is set at $10,000 per violation plus attorney’s fees to the prevailing employee.

5.  AB 67 – Double pay required on holidays

Bill would require an employer to pay at least two times the regular rate of pay to specified employees for work during Thanksgiving.