5 new California laws for 2018 that could affect all HR pros soon

With the new year came new rules for California employers. And even if you don’t do business in the Golden State, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with these new regulations, which could wind up affecting your state sooner rather than later. 
Here are five new California laws that went into effect January 1st.

1. “Ban the box”

California has become the most recent state to prohibit employers from asking about criminal convictions on job applications, which used to be a simple “yes” or “no” question. Criminal history can’t even be brought up in an interview now, either. Once a conditional job offer is made, the employer may ask about any convictions, and decide whether the nature and gravity of such an offense would conflict with the duties of the position.
If conviction history is used to deny an applicant, the employer must explain why they were disqualified. The applicant has five days to dispute the accuracy of the conviction information or provide evidence of rehabilitation. The employer must consider this new information before making a final decision.
This new rule prevents employers from automatically rejecting a candidate just because they have a criminal record.

2. Salary history ban

Not only will questions about criminal history be removed from job applications, but inquiries about salary history will be gone as well. Following the lead of Delaware, Massachusetts, Oregon, New York City and Philadelphia, California employers can no longer use salary history to determine whether to extend a job offer or how much to pay that future employee.
Employers can still ask what a candidate’s salary expectations are. Also, if someone voluntarily discloses their past salary, that information can be used.

3. Small business family leave

People who work for companies that have between 20 and 49 employees now can receive 12 weeks of family leave to bond with a new child within one year of birth or adoption. The leave is unpaid, though some employees are eligible for compensation if they’ve worked at least 1,250 hours in the year before their leave began. California employers must also maintain health coverage during the leave.

4. Expanded harassment training

The current requirements for sexual harassment training include two hours of interactive training for all supervisors, repeated every two years (at companies with 50 or more employees). For 2018, that training will be expanded past typical sexual harassment and bullying, and cover harassment based on gender identity, gender expression and sexual orientation.
Also, California employers can no longer inquire about a candidate’s gender or gender identity on job applications.

5. Minimum wage increase

At California companies of 26 or more employees, the minimum wage is now $11 an hour, and $10.50 an hour for companies smaller than 26 employees. In order for salaried employees to be exempt from overtime, this year they’ll have to make at least $45,760 annually.
California joins 17 other states that recently bumped up the minimum wage in 2018.

Rachel Mucha
Rachel writes about Human Resource management and has been a member of the HRMorning staff since 2017. She is a graduate of Ithaca College. Email: rmucha@hrmorning.com