Important 2017 Employment Changes:
State Minimum Wage: $10.50 per hour for employers with 26 or more employees. $10.00 per hour for those with 25 or less employees. Cities throughout the state have higher minimum wages. Consult local ordinances if employees regularly work in cities outside Sonoma or Napa Counties. Note, exempt employees for employers with 26 or more employees must make at least $43,680. (For smaller employers it remains $41,600.) Exempt employees must back at least twice the minimum wage on an annualized basis based on full time employment (2080 hours).
IRS Mileage Rate: The mileage reimbursement rate for cars, vans, pickups or panel trucks is 53.5 cents per mile. This is down from 54 cents per mile for 2016.
New I-9 Form: As of January 22, 2017 employers must use the new I-9 form to document that employees are authorized to work in the United States. The new form can be found here.
Legalization of Marijuana: Although California has now legalized recreational use of marijuana, employers may continue to prohibit marijuana use, possession or impairment on the job. Employers can also continue to test for marijuana in pre-employment screening tests, subject to existing privacy rights disclosures.
Gender Neutral Bathrooms: By March 1, 2017 all business establishments, places of public accommodation or state or local government agencies must designate single-user toilet facilities as “all-gender”. A single-user toilet facility is a toilet facility with no more than one water closet or urinal with a locking mechanism controlled by the user. There is no requirement in the law that the bathroom be available to the general public.
Piece-Rate: If you pay any workers by piece-rate make sure your payroll practices are compliant with respect to calculating and reflecting rest/recovery breaks and other non-productive time and pay. Do not solely rely on your payroll service to do this properly. Verify that it is being done correctly. It is extremely complicated.
Federal Exempt Salary Increase: The new Department of Labor overtime exemption rule is on hold through court action. It is uncertain whether it will eventually be implemented, revised or squashed. If implemented the new minimum salary threshold for exempt employees would be $46,467 (higher than the current California requirement).
FEHA Policies: Check your discrimination, harassment and prevention policies and training practices to make sure they are compliant with new Department of Fair Employment and Housing regulations.
For more information on these or any other employment laws impacting your business contact Jennifer Douglas Phillips.
ALERT: Legal Challenge To AB 1513 Filed. Deadline to file for Safe Harbor protections extended to July 18, 2016.
Nisei Farmers League filed a lawsuit on June 27, 2016 in Fresno Superior Court challenging the legal validity of certain provisions of AB 1513 governing payment for nonproductive time for employees compensated by piece rate. The extension of time to file for safe harbor protections with the California Labor Commissioner was extended in order to provide time for a hearing. Nisei Farmers League is requesting a restraining order to stay enforcement of the law pending the court’s decision on the merits of the lawsuit. More detail about the lawsuit, including links to the court documents, can be found here.
Please note, that while the deadline has been extended to register for the safe harbor provisions, there has been no decision about the validity of the law, which has been in effect since January 1, 2016.
Employment Laws for January 1, 2016
Ringing in the New Year means time to implement the latest California employment laws. Here is a summary of some of the more significant ones. For more detailed information contact Jennifer Douglas Phillips via email.
Minimum Wage: The California minimum wage increases to $10.00 per hour. Don’t forget this also means that salaried, exempt employees must now make at least $41,600 per year (twice the minimum wage).
Piece-Rate Pay (AB 1513): If you pay your employees by piece-rate, you must separately reflect rest and recovery periods as well as non-productive work on employees’ wage statements. Rest and recovery periods must also be paid at an hourly rate of either the average hourly rate of the employee for the applicable workweek or minimum wage, whichever is higher. The applicable hourly rates for everything must be reflected on the wage statement (piece-rate, rest and recovery rate, non-productive work).
Affordable Care Act Reporting: Applicable Large Employers (“ALE”), those with 50 or more full-time equivalent employees, must submit reports to the IRS by February 28 or electronically by March 31. ALE’s must also provide tax Form 1095-C to each of their employees by January 31. More information about the ACA reporting requirements can be found here.
New Postings: Make sure to obtain the latest posters and applicable wage orders and post them at your workplace. If you are unsure what wage order should be posted discuss with your legal counsel or review the Labor Commissioner’s helpful publication entitled “Which Wage Order?” (A copy of it is here) You can obtain the fully compliant postings through the Cal Chamber. Here is a link to its web store.
Seating for Employees: This is not new, but the courts will likely issue decisions this year clarifying when employers are required to provide seats to employees. Wage orders in California (governing nearly all employees) already contain provisions requiring employers to provide “suitable seating” to employees “when the nature of the work reasonably permits”. There are numerous class actions pending around the state concerning this issue. We encourage you to examine your workplace and provide seats to employees whenever possible. If you are unsure if seating is appropriate in your workplace consult legal counsel for guidance and an examination of the potential risk in not providing seats.