New California Laws for 2013

Winter 2012Articles California Update

Governor Brown has signed several new bills that will affect employers beginning in 2013:

No Social Media Passwords (AB1844): Employers may not ask employees or applicants for user names or passwords.

Breastfeeding Protected (AB2386): Amends the Fair Employment and Housing Act to add breast feeding and related medical problems to the definition of “sex” discrimination.

Religious Dress Protected (AB1964): Includes “religious dress practice” (e.g., head or face covering) and “religious grooming practice” (e.g., facial hair) in protections against religious discrimination.

Liability for Contractor’s Wage & Hour Violations (AB1856): Adds warehouse contractors to the list of firms (garment workers, security guards, janitors) for whose wage and hour practices the prime company can be liable.

Access to Personnel Files (AB2674): Revises the law to allow former employees to obtain personnel files.

Injury from Itemized Wage Statements (AB 1744): Amends Labor Code §226 to define “injury” for purposes of liability where employee alleges defective wage statements.

Vetoed: Significantly, the Governor vetoed a bill (AB1450) that would have prohibited discrimination against “unemployed” job applicants.

Stay Tuned: After the November 6th election, Democrats now have a two-thirds majority in both houses of the California legislature. They will now have a freer hand to pass legislation that the Governor cannot veto.

Other Important 2013 updates:

Minimum Wage Increase: The California minimum wage will remains at $8.00 per hour for 2013. Effective January 1, 2013, the minimum wage for employees who perform at least two hours of work per week in the City of San Francisco is $10.55 per hour. San Jose voters recently approved an ordinance to increase the minimum wage there. In approximately March 2013 (depending on when the election is officially certified), the minimum wage for employees in San Jose will be $10.00 per hour.

Minimum Pay for Software Employees and Physicians: Effective January 1, 2013, to be exempt from overtime, the minimum pay for these workers has been adjusted as follows: computer software employees must make a minimum hourly rate of $39.90, a minimum monthly salary of $6,927.75, or a minimum annual salary of $83,132.93. Licensed physicians and surgeons must make a minimum hourly rate of $72.70.

Mileage Rate Increase: Effective January 1, 2013, the Internal Revenue Service standard mileage reimbursement rate for business travel will be 56.5 cents per mile (up from 55.5 cents per mile in 2012). While California employers need not reimburse employee travel at this standard rate, it is typically the most convenient way for employers to meet their burden of reimbursing employees for this business expense.

PDL Regulations: The Office of Administrative Law issued expanded Pregnancy Disability Leave regulations for 2013. The definition of “disabled by pregnancy” has been broadened to include several specific conditions, such as severe morning sickness, prenatal or postnatal care, bed rest, and post-partum depression. The concept of reinstatement has been clarified so that a woman must be returned to a position “virtually identical” to the position she held prior to any reasonable accommodation, transfer or disability leave. Several other issues have been affected as well. Employers are advised to review the regulations and update their policies accordingly.