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2019 New Year Employment Law Checklist

January 8, 2019

With a focus on preventive employment law, Shivani Sutaria Law Offices works to educate, advise and develop policies and practices for employers in an effort to prevent legal disputes and encourage harmonious workplaces. As such, Shivani Sutaria Law Offices is pleased to provide this 2019 New Year Employment Law Checklist to employers who are in the process of understanding and implementing a slew of new employment laws. Please contact me at or 408/406-8208 for your 2019 employment law needs.

 Review and Update Policies: Count your total number of employees for the purpose of determining what laws are applicable to your company, and make updates to policies in your employee handbook if your company has grown or shrunk in size. Furthermore, an employee handbook should reflect your company’s culture, expectations and practices as well as the current state of employment laws including those going into effect on January 1, 2019.

 Create a Plan for Sexual Harassment Training: Employers with 5 or more employees (it used to be 50 or more employees) must now provide at least one hour of training to non-supervisory employees and two hours of sexual harassment training to supervisory employees. Under this new law, employers must provide the training every two years, with the first round being completed by January 1, 2020. To learn about other new sexual harassment related employment laws, please read our previous blog article “#MeToo Movement Ushers in New California Sexual Harassment Laws.” Furthermore, Shivani Sutaria Law Offices is available to provide sexual harassment training to employees and supervisors.

 Revise Employment Agreements and Employment Applications: A new law aimed at combatting sexual harassment prohibits employers from requiring employees – as a condition of employment or for a raise or bonus - to sign releases for claims or rights under FEHA or to sign non-disparagement agreements that restrict employees from disclosing unlawful acts in the workplace, including, but not limited to, sexual harassment. As such, you may need to revise employment agreements that contain language on these issues. Also, review and revise your employment applications as restrictions on criminal background information and salary history have gone into effect in the past few years.

 Analyze Independent Contractor Classifications: In April 2018, the California Supreme Court narrowed the independent contractor category by issuing a new test to determine if workers are independent contractors or employees under wage orders. Work with an attorney to analyze whether your independent contractors meet the new “ABC test” which requires businesses to prove all three of the following elements: 1) the worker is free from control and direction of the hirer in connection with performing the work, both under contract and in fact; and 2) the worker performs work outside the usual course of the hiring entity’s business; and 3) the worker customarily engages in an independently established trade, occupation, or business of the same nature as the work performed for the hirer.

 Designate a Lactation Location. A new California law requires employers to make reasonable efforts to provide lactating employees with a private room “other than a bathroom” (replacing “other than a toilet stall”) to express breastmilk. Employers who cannot provide a permanent private area due to operational, financial, or space limitations can offer a temporary location that is private and free from intrusion, used only for lactation purposes while an employee expresses milk and otherwise meets the requirements of state law concerning lactation accommodation.

 Post the New Employment Law Poster: Post the current version of the federal and state employment law poster especially in light of California’s minimum wage increase to $11.00/hour for businesses with 25 or less employees and $12.00/hour for employers with 26 or more employees, effective January 1, 2019. Remember that the minimum wage increase impacts the minimum salary requirement for California exempt employees, which increases to $45,760/year and $49,920/year, respectively. Several Bay Area cities have had larger minimum wage increases in the new year; for example, Cupertino, Palo Alto, San Jose, Richmond, Milpitas and San Mateo will increase to $15.00/hour.

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