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September 2017 California HR Regulatory Updates

Jill Schaefer /
  • Categories: HR


Reminder: Domestic Violence Leave Notice
Since July 2017, employers with 25+ employees cannot discharge or retaliate against employees who take a leave of absence after experiencing domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking.

For additional information, read “Written Notice Requirement for Victims of Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault & Stalking” in KPA’s August 2017 California HR Regulatory Updates.

Berkeley Paid Sick Leave
The city of Berkeley’s Paid Sick Leave Ordinance will be going into effect on October 1, 2017. The local regulation has two sets of provisions: one that applies to most employers, including those who have a Berkeley business license, and another set that pertains to small businesses with fewer than 25 employees.


  • Covers anyone who completes at least 2 hours of work within Berkeley’s geographic boundaries during a calendar week.
  • Also pertains to employees who are entitled to minimum wage under state law or are Welfare-to-Work Program participants.
  • May be waived if a bona fide collective bargaining agreement states as such in clear and unambiguous terms.
  • Employees who haven’t accrued state-required paid sick leave before October 1, 2017, must begin to accrue city-required paid sick leave as of October 1, 2017 or whenever their employment begins, whichever is later.
  • Those who have accrued state-required paid sick leave before October 1, 2017 must continue to use such leave in a manner that’s consistent with state law.
  • Covered employees accrue 1 paid-sick-leave hour for every 30 hours they worked, which accrues in whole-hour units, not fractionally.
  • Employees working 40 hours in a week will accrue 1 hour of sick leave, not 1-1/3 hours as required under state law.
  • For small businesses, sick leave accumulation is capped at 48 hours per year; for all other businesses, the cap is 72 hours. However, employers can set their own cap — higher, lower, no cap, etc.
  • Accrued, but unused leave, carries over from year-to-year (fiscal or calendar), but cannot exceed the cap.
  • Covered employees can use accrued leave 90 calendar days after employment.
  • Employees can request sick leave for physical or mental illnesses, injuries, or medical conditions; obtaining professional diagnoses or treating a medical condition; other medical reasons, such as pregnancy or obtaining a physical examination.
  • Leave can be used for the employee’s own need or to care for a family member (child, parent, legal guardian, ward, sibling, grandparent, grandchild, spouse, registered domestic partner) or a designated person if the employee does not have a spouse or registered domestic partner and designates a person for whom leave may be used.
  • For sick leave regarding domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking, the state law will take precedence.
  • Small businesses can limit leave use to 48 hours per calendar year, but other employers cannot.
  • Employees must provide reasonable advance notice of taking sick leave.
  • Employers are permitted to verify or document that employees used their leave for a permissible purpose. However, employees can’t incur more than $15 to validate their sick leave.

This ordinance will be put to a public vote in November, but will be in effect from October 1 until then.

San Francisco & Accommodations for Nursing Moms
Beginning January 1, 2018, employers in San Francisco must provide nursing mothers with a clean, comfortable place to bump their breast milk. The full rule can be found here.

Lactation specialists say that in order for new mothers to produce enough milk to nourish their babies, they likely need to engage in three 30-minute pumping sessions during a typical 8-hour workday.

Law Requirements:

  • Implement a lactation accommodation policy.
  • Inform workers of their rights to take breaks to pump.
  • Make reasonable efforts to provide a safe, appropriate space for pumping. The room must contain a surface or shelf that can hold a breast pump and personal items, a seat and electrical access. The door must lock. A refrigerator and sink need to be located nearby.
  • Follow new construction/renovation rules. For $1 million and above projects or 15,000 square feet additions or builds, lactation rooms are mandatory. They have to be at least 50 square feet, be lockable from the inside, and have hot and cold running water.
  • Give nursing moms priority to multipurpose rooms that are also designated for lactation.
  • Pay salaried workers who may need extra break time.
  • Consider having hourly employees who don’t have enough paid break time to complete their pumping clock out.
  • Be proactive yet empathetic about conversations regarding schedules, breaks, and work hours.
  • If possible, provide hospital-grade pumps, which are more efficient and don’t have to be moved in and out of the lactation room.

According to SHRM, “The San Francisco ordinance is more likely to impact hourly workers whose schedules and breaks are regulated by state law and who don’t have their own offices and may lack access to a clean, private place to express milk.”

As a result, it’s important to train managers on proper protocol because many women will be too uncomfortable to ask for the accommodations that they are entitled to.

Additional Resources
August 2017 California HR Regulatory Updates

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