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In this article, we focus on the top 10 laws, regulations and trends going into 2018 that employers need to be aware of.

 

  1. New Parent Leave Act

Effective Jan. 1, 2018, employers in California with 20 or more workers will be required to provide eligible employees with 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave to bond with a new child.

This builds on a 20-year-old law that required only employers with 50 or more staff to provide employees with time off for child bonding. Like the current law, the New Parent Leave Act applies to newborns or a child placed with the employee for adoption for foster care.

To be eligible for parental leave, an employee must:

  • Have worked for the employer for at least 12 months;
  • Have worked at least 1,250 hours in the 12 months before taking leave; and
  • Work at a worksite that has at least 20 employees within a 75-mile radius.

While the leave is unpaid, employees are allowed to use accrued vacation pay, paid sick time off or other accrued paid time off.

 

  1. Wage increases

With the economy humming along at a decent pace of growth and unemployment at record lows, employers should expect competition for talent to increase.

With quality personnel scarce, it’s expected that wages will rise, even though many economists had expected a faster rate of growth given the low unemployment rate and steady economic expansion.

The Society for Human Resources Management predicts that companies should expect to pay about 3% more in wages across all sectors. In high-demand fields, employers should expect to have to pay more than that to retain and attract talent. Those fields include health care, elderly care, engineering, hi-tech and construction.

 


  1. Expanded Anti-Harassment Training Requirements

As you probably know, current law requires employers with 50 or more workers to hold two hours of anti-sexual harassment training for supervisors every two years. The law and subsequent regulations by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing outline the training requirements.

A new law, SB 396, expands the subjects of that training to also include harassment based on gender identity, gender expression and sexual orientation.

The training must include specific examples of such harassment. This portion of the training must be presented by trainers with knowledge and expertise in these areas.

 

  1. Complying with ACA rules

The IRS has stepped up enforcement of Affordable Care Act compliance for not only the part that requires applicable large employers to provide coverage for their staff, but also the filing of IRS forms that verify compliance.

Besides being able to fine your organization for not complying with the law, it will also be fining employers that fail to file the forms or make mistakes in filing them.

Under the ACA, an employer can be fined $250 for each form that it fails to file or files late, as well as for forms with missing or incorrect information like names, birthdates or Social Security numbers. The maximum fine for these filing errors is $3 million per organization.

 

  1. No more salary history questions

Starting in 2018, AB 168 restricts the types of salary questions that employers in California can ask job applicants. In particular, employers may not ask prospective employees about their prior salaries at other employers.

The new law also bars employers from relying on prior salary history when deciding whether to hire someone and how much to pay them.

 

This is the first part of a two-part series. The five other developments for 2018 will follow in our next blog.