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5 New California Employment Laws Going on the Books

As the new year approaches, employers must familiarize themselves with new employment laws taking effect on January 1, 2016. Below is a summary of five new laws that every employer should know about and update their policies and practices accordingly. Shivani Sutaria Law Offices is here to answer any questions related to these new laws and/or to ensure your employee handbooks are compliant and up-to-date. Shivani Sutaria can be contacted at or 408/406-8208.

1. Minimum Wage Increased: The minimum wage in California increases from $9.00/hour to $10.00/hour on January 1, 2016. Remember certain Bay Area cities like San Jose ($10.30/hour), San Francisco ($12.25/hour) and Oakland ($12.25/hour) have higher city-specific minimum wages.

2. Equal Pay Act Strengthened: This new law will lower the burden of proof for an employee’s equal pay claim, narrow an employer’s legal defenses when fighting an equal pay claim, and permit transparency about wages among employees. Click here for an article Shivani Sutaria Law Offices previously wrote on the new Equal Pay Act.

3. E-Verify Restrictions: E-Verify is an optional online system, administered by several federal agencies, that allows employers to determine whether those who have been provided a job offer are eligible to work in the United States. The new law prohibits employers from using the E-Verify system to check the employment authorization status of applicants who have not yet received a job offer or existing employees. There is a penalty of up to $10,000 for each violation of this law.

4. Reasonable Accommodation Clarified: This new law codifies that it is an unlawful employment practice for an employer to discriminate or retaliate against an employee for requesting an accommodation for a disability or religious belief or observance, regardless of whether the request was granted.

5. Employee Time-Off Expanded: Existing law allows employees working for employers with 25 or more employees to take up to 40 hours each year for school or child-care related activities. Existing law applies to parents, guardians and custodial grandparents, and the new law will expand eligibility to stepparents, foster parents and a person who stands in loco parentis. The new law also broadens the term “child day care facility” to “child care provider” and permits employees to take unpaid time off to enroll or reenroll their children in a school or with a child care provider.

Additionally, this new law amends California’s Kin Care law, which allows employees to use half of their accrued sick leave to care for a family member. The new law amends the Kin Care law to comport with California’s paid sick leave law which went into effect on July 1, 2015, thus allowing employees to use kin care leave for their family members’ preventive care or diagnosis, care or treatment of an existing health condition as well as for judicial, psychological and medical needs due to domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking. Further, the new law redefines “family member” to include child, parent, spouse, registered domestic partner, grandparent, grandchild, and sibling.

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