2015-2016 Employment Law Updates

Greetings! As we head toward the end of 2015, we want you to be aware of several new laws, changes and reminders for California employers. We wish all of you a great holiday season and look forward to working with you in 2016!

New in 2016:

  • SB 358 – Gender Equal Pay – Amends the state labor code to ensure equal pay to both genders for jobs of comparable skill/effort/responsibility and working conditions. To minimize legal exposure, employers will need to be sure their pay practices are justifiable and consistent across comparable jobs even in different locations. Factors that allow for potentially legal differentials include seniority, experience/education level, and performance. Location can be a factor, but there would need to be a justifiable reason, such as cost of living. SB 358 comes with a “no retaliation” provision to protect employees who invoke this amendment. Employers are advised to review their compensation programs –grouping comparable positions and analyzing pay and differential factors. HR Matrix Solution: The HR Matrix has expertise in reviewing and designing competitive compensation plans. We can evaluate your current pay practices to ensure you comply with SB 358. Beyond basic compliance, we conduct salary surveys to obtain statistically valid marketplace data to determine if your pay is competitive. We offer variance analysis to determine if you risk losing employees to the market or may fail to attract new talent. We design pay structures, including new or updated pay bands, along with evaluating and recommending creative compensation and bonus programs that will motivate and reward your employees.  Contact Brenda Gilchrist to discuss your compensation needs.
  • California Minimum Wage goes up to $10/hour.
  • CA Overtime Exemption Salary Requirements will increase accordingly from $37440 to $41600 as of 1/1/16.
  • FLSA Proposed Changes – The FLSA is getting ready to announce revised requirements for employees to qualify for overtime exemptions. One of the most likely changes will be an increase of the minimum salary requirement from its current California level of $37,440 to $50,440. The decision is expected in early 2016. If this passes, Employers will need to analyze their salaried jobs to ensure they still meet exemption requirements –or transition the employees to non-exempt status and pay overtime.
  • School Activities Leave for employers with more than 25 employees now includes, “time off to find a school or a licensed child care provider and to enroll or re-enroll a child, or to address child care provider or school emergencies.” Update handbooks and policies accordingly.
  • AB 1513 – Employers who pay employees using piece-rate formulas will have new pay and tracking requirements.

From 2015:

  • AB 1825 – Anti-Bullying Provision – Under AB 1825 sexual harassment training for CA supervisors is required for employers with over 50 employees in the state or nationwide. Training must be provided every two years, and within six months of an employee becoming a supervisor. Effective this past January, all mandated sexual harassment training for supervisors must include a segment on bullying or abusive conduct. Although bullying is not yet illegal in CA, the training to prevent it is legally required. HR Matrix Solution: The HR Matrix provides a custom and  engaging training that will ensure you meet the requirements of providing sexual harassment training, which also includes the new requirements. Contact Us for more information.
  • AB 987 & EEOC rulings – Enhanced discrimination and retaliation protections: Employers are prohibited from retaliating or discriminating against an employee requesting accommodation of his or her disability or religious beliefs, regardless of whether the accommodation request was granted. In addition, employers may not discriminate against an applicant based on a ‘suspected need’ for accommodation.
  • AB 304 – Amendments to the CA Required Sick Leave – makes provisions for employers to accrue the leave by pay period versus per one hour for every thirty worked, as long as the accrual meets the minimum requirements.
  • The National Labor Relations Board is continuing to target non-union employers who may be perceived as restricting employees from organizing. Handbooks and policies should not attempt to over-govern behavior inside or outside of the workplace.



  • ACA reporting: Qualified large employer reporting is due by 2/28/16.
  • Arbitration Agreements: We strongly recommend updating existing arbitration agreements.
  • OSHA 300 Log: Most employers who had over ten employees during the prior year must post the annual OSHA 300A summary by February 1st.
  • Overtime Calculations: We had several clients this year that struggled with accurately calculating overtime. Remember that employees who earn wages at more than one rate must have overtime calculated on a “regular rate of pay,” which includes all wages, non-discretionary bonus and commission earned during the workweek, divided by the number of hours worked.
  • ERISA Compliance: Employers who offer health insurance benefits are obligated to comply with ERISA requirements and provide a Wrap Summary Plan Description (SPD) to employees. Some brokers and various Third Party Administrators can provide this document for employers. There are significant penalties if an employee requests an SPD and the employer does not comply.
  • Commuter Benefits: Employers with more than 50 employees in Santa Rosa are subject to the Bay Area Commuter Benefits program requirements.
  • Paystub Additions: Paystubs must now include sick leave balances.

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