Yes, it is only April, but even if employers updated their handbooks at the beginning of 2016, they should take another look at the handbooks to ensure they comply with new regulations issued by California’s Fair Employment and Housing Council.  The new regulations under the Fair Employment and Housing Act are effective April 1, 2016.  While the regulations are a restatement of the current law, they set forth an additional requirement that employers adopt a written discrimination, harassment, and retaliation prevention policy that meet certain conditions.

The new regulations provide that employers “have an affirmative duty to create a workplace environment that is free from employment practices prohibited by the Act.”  The regulations set forth that in addition to providing employees the Department’s DFEH-185 brochure on sexual harassment, or an alternative writing that complies with Government Code section 12950, employers are required to develop a harassment, discrimination, and retaliation policy that meets certain requirements.

Recommended actions for employers:

  1. Update handbooks to ensure the harassment policy complies with the new regulations.
  2. Update handbook acknowledgments to obtain written acknowledgments from employees that they have received the new policy.
  3. Review the new hire packets provided to new employees to ensure it contains the brochure DFEH-185 and all other required documents (disclosures and policies required to be provided to employees is becoming very detailed and complicated to comply with).
  4. Ensure all companies with 50 or more employees are compliant with its obligation to provide two hours of sexual harassment prevention training to all managers/supervisors.

Please contact me if you have any questions about updating handbooks or new hire packets to comply with these regulations.