Employers: New laws to Know in 2019

Operating a business in California requires a lot more than finding ways to make money, managing a workforce and coordinating the logistics of delivering a product or service. It also involves knowing and complying with numerous state and federal regulations.

When these rules change or new laws are passed, business owners must make the necessary adjustments. Failure to do so can result in costly setbacks and penalties, jeopardizing a business' future. California business owners should be mindful of the following new laws that went into effect in this year:

  • Sexual harassment claims - Numerous changes to sexual harassment laws will go into effect this year. Among them are requirements for businesses with just five employees to provide sexual harassment training to supervisory and nonsupervisory employees. Another measure makes unenforceable settlement provisions that prohibit parties from speaking out about harassment. Yet another law lowers the burden of proof for employees alleging harassment.
  • Wage requirements - New laws provide clarification for ambiguous terms in the state's Equal Pay Act. They also prohibit unlawful wage disparities. Further, employers also cannot seek salary history from applicants. They must also provide wage ranges to applicants who request them after a successful first interview.
  • Banning the box - A new law prohibits employers from inquiring into a narrower scope of criminal convictions.
  • Expanding representation on corporate boards - Many companies already know about the new requirement for certain publicly held corporations to have at least one woman on their board of directors. Understand, though, that this must happen before the end of 2019. Corporations must meet additional requirements based on the board's size by the end of 2021.

In general, and typical of California, these and other changes in the law place more responsibilities on employers, not fewer. Employers and owners may therefore need to adjust their workplace policies to meet these new requirements. They may also need to change their employment and operational approaches to ensure they remain in compliance.

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