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April 2018 California HR Regulatory Updates

Jill Schaefer /
Text: "Regulatory Update"


California OSHA Violations May Come With Civil Penalties
A civil penalty is a monetary penalty, not a criminal punishment, that a court may order an individual to pay as restitution for wrongdoing.

In Solus Industrial Innovations, LLC v. the Orange County District Attorney’s Office, the California Supreme Court unanimously ruled that prosecutors could pursue civil penalties against employers that violate workplace safety standards under California’s Unfair Competition and Fair Advertising Law in addition to California’s Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA). This can happen despite an employer’s preemption under the federal OSHA.

BOFE Investigations Ramp Up
The California Labor Commissioner’s Office’s Bureau of Field Enforcement (BOFE) has been increasing their employer investigations since 2010. Assessed wages as a result of a citation may range from $15,000 to $200,000 or more for multiple wage theft violations.

Naturally, your organization needs to ensure it is compliant with:

  • Minimum wage laws
  • Overtime laws
  • Laws governing meal periods and rest breaks
  • Employment classification rules, such as non-exempt, exempt, contractor status vs. employees

Remember, KPA can help you in this endeavor with our on-call HR consultants. You also won’t want to miss our California Alert: New Overtime Pay Considerations webinar

Top 4 California Compliance Reminders
We’ll risk sounding like a broken record if it helps you abide by relatively new California employment regulations. Here goes…

  1. Ban the Box: California employers can’t run background checks on applicants until after offering potential employees an offer. If you use background checks as part of your recruiting process, include language in your offer that makes it contingent on certain checks such as a drug screen and background check.
  2. Don’t Ask About Previous Salary: Based on legislation to equalize the pay gap for women, employers cannot ask anyone about their previous salary.
  3. Maternity Leave: California law requires companies with at least 20 employees to offer 12 weeks unpaid family bonding leave. Employers cannot discriminate against or fired employees who are pregnant or may become pregnant. For example, employers can’t refuse to hire a woman because she may one day become pregnant.
  4. Minimum Wage: Minimum wage in the state of California is $10.50 per hour for employers with 25 employees or less and $11 per hour for employers with 25+ employees. These minimum wages will keep going up gradually until 2023 when the state minimum wage reaches $15. Keep in mind that other California cities have higher minimum wages.
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