With new legal requirements facing California employers by January 1, 2020, this Friday’s Five focuses on five initial steps that employers can begin implementing now:

1. Minimum Wage and Exempt Employees Salary Threshold: Adjust pay levels for increasing minimum wage and ensure exempt employees are paid minimum threshold salaries to qualify as exempt.

  • Effective January 1, 2020, the California minimum wage for employers with 25 employees or less will be $12.00/hour, and for employers with 26 employees or more will be $13.00/hour. Employers should be mindful that higher rates may be in effect in cities (such as San Francisco) or counties (such as Los Angeles) that have enacted their own minimum wage rates, and employers must comply with the highest applicable minimum wage.
  • To qualify as an exempt employee, the employee must be paid a monthly salary equivalent to no less than two times the state minimum wage for full-time employment. With the state minimum wage increases on January 1, 2020, large employers (with 26 or more employees) must pay a salary of at least $54,080 annually, and small employers (25 or less employees) must pay a salary of at least $49,920 per year.

2. Lactation Accommodation: Implement policies and ensure space is available to provide lactation accommodations.

SB 142 requires employers to provide additional lactation accommodations for employees.  Employers need to review if any structural changes that must made in order to comply with the new requirements, and they should also develop and implement a lactation policy that meets the requirements under the new law.  In addition, employers should train managers to understand the employer’s obligations to provide these lactation accommodations and ensure managers understand employees are entitled to breaks to express breast milk.  Reasonable amounts of time in excess of the normal meal and rest breaks must be permitted.

3. Update arbitration agreements to ensure they comply with California law.

AB 51 prohibits employers from requiring any applicant for employment or any employee to waive any right, forum, or procedure under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) or the Labor Code as a condition of employment, continued employment, or the receipt of any employment-related benefit. Therefore, employers must update any agreements to ensure they are voluntary to comply with AB 51.  Employers should also review the agreements to make sure they comply with California law, and continually work with counsel to ensure they are compliant.  For example, in Davis v. TWC Dealer Group, Inc., (10/30/19) the California appellate court found the employer’s arbitration agreement unenforceable on grounds that it was both procedurally (unequal bargaining power) and substantively (overly harsh or one-sided) unconscionable.

4. Severance Agreements and No-Rehire Provisions: Update severance agreements to comply with new prohibition on no-rehire provisions.

AB 749 prohibits and invalidates any provisions in settlement agreements entered into on or after January 1, 2020 that prevent workers from obtaining future employment with the settling employer or its affiliated companies.  More information about AB 749 can be read in my prior post.

5. Update handbooks and posters.

As a reminder, my firm will be hosting a seminar on the new employment legal developments for 2020 on November 21, 2019.  More information can be found here.