United States: Legislative Updates Employers Should Know About To Avoid Wringing In The New Year

The California legislature played an active role in 2015 by enacting new rules and amendments in many employment areas.  The following covers some of the key highlights, some of which became effective on January 1, 2016.

Equal Wages for Substantially Similar Work (SB 358).  Known as the "Fair Pay Act," SB 358 will amend Labor Code Section 1197.5 with the aim of improving gender wage equality.  We blogged about the bill's controversial provisions when it was first introduced in March of this year.  To summarize, Section 1197.5 currently prohibits an employer "from paying an employee wages less than the rates paid to the opposite sex within the same establishment for equal work."  But under the new language, an employer will now be prohibited from paying any of its employees lesser wages than the amounts paid to employees of the opposite sex for "substantially similar work."  Whether employees perform "substantially similar work" is determined by analyzing a composite of skill, effort, and responsibility.  Notably, SB 358 does not confine the "substantially similar work" analysis to "the same establishment" of the employer.  The bill also increases the burden of defense by requiring an employer to demonstrate that any wage differential is not based on or derived from a sex-based differential in compensation, is related to the job at issue, and is consistent with business necessity.  This new law became effective on January 1, 2016.

Increased Minimum Wage.  As we pointed out last week, on January 1, 2016 the minimum wage increases to $10.00 an hour. This also bumps the annual salary minimum for exempt employees to $41,600.

Separate Pay for Rest and Recovery Under Piece-Rate Plans (AB 1513).  This bill adds Section 226.2 to the Labor Code, which provides that piece-rate workers must be "compensated for rest and recovery periods and other nonproductive time" at an hourly rate that is separate from any other piece-rate compensation.  The statute further defines "other nonproductive time" as "time under the employer's control, exclusive of rest and recovery periods, that is not directly related to the activity being compensated on a piece-rate basis."

In conjunction with this new requirement, AB 1513 also amends Labor Code Section 226(a) to impose additional administrative obligations upon employers of piece-rate workers.  Those workers' wage statements must now also reflect the total hours worked for compensable rest and recovery periods and other nonproductive time, as well as the rates of compensation and gross wages paid for those periods of time.  This new law became effective on January 1, 2016.

Opportunity to Cure Noncompliant Wage Statements After Receiving a PAGA Notice (AB 1506).  By way of background, the California Private Attorneys General Act of 2004 ("PAGA," codified at Labor Code Section 2699, et seq.) authorizes allegedly aggrieved employees to sue employers to recover civil penalties for Labor Code violations.  Following PAGA's enactment, however, were actions that sought significant monetary penalties for technical violations of wage statement requirements that undisputedly caused no actual injury.  AB 1506, immediately effective on October 2, 2015, was designed to reduce the frequency of these wage statement claims.  The new law amended PAGA to provide employers with 33 days from the postmarked date of notice to cure wage statements that omit the inclusive dates of the period for which the employee was paid or the name and address of the legal entity that is the employer.  According to the amended terms, a violation is "cured" once an employer has provided a fully compliant, itemized wage statement to each aggrieved employee for each pay period for the three-year period prior to the date of the written notice.  Aside from the short timeframe to cure, it is also important to note that an employer may use this cure provision only once for the same violation of the statute during each 12-month period.  This change became effective on October 2, 2015.

Complying with California's Sick Leave Requirements (AB 304).  Don't forget about California's new paid sick leave law, which went into effect in July 2015. Read our prior blog posts on the original law and the subsequent amendments.

Requests for Accommodation Constitutes "Protected Activity" (AB 987).   California's Fair Employment and Housing Act ("FEHA," codified at Government Code Section 12940, et seq.) requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations for known disabilities and prohibits retaliation against an employee who "oppose[s] any practices forbidden" by the statute.  However, in 2013, the Court of Appeal in Rope v. Auto-Chlor System of Washington Inc., 220 Cal. App. 4th 635, held that a request for accommodation, without more, is not a protected legal activity and does not support a claim of retaliation under FEHA.

The Legislature passed AB 987 in direct response to the Rope decision.  The law amends FEHA to make clear that a request for reasonable accommodation on the basis of religion or disability constitutes a "protected activity"; and that an employee who makes such a request for accommodation is protected from retaliation, regardless of whether the request was granted.  This new law became effective on January 1, 2016.

Prohibition on Adverse Action Against Family Members of Employee Engaged in Protected Activity (AB 1509).  AB 1509 expands certain protections against retaliation and adverse action.  The Labor Code currently prohibits an employer from discriminating, retaliating, or taking any adverse action against an employee or applicant for engaging in specified protected conduct. As a result of AB 1509, an employer, or a person acting on behalf of the employer, will also be prohibited from retaliating against an employee who is a family member of a person who engaged in, or is perceived to have engaged in protected conduct.  This new law became effective on January 1, 2016.

Expanded Rights to Take Time Off for Health and Childcare (SB 579).  California's current "Kin Care" law (Labor Code Section 230.8) generally prohibits covered employers from discharging or discriminating against an employee who is a parent, guardian, or grandparent with custody of a child in a licensed child day care facility, kindergarten, or grades 1 to 12, for taking off up to 40 hours each year to participate in school activities.  SB 579 will expand those rights of leave to include time off work to find, enroll, or re-enroll a child in school or with a childcare provider; or to address childcare provider or school emergencies.  The bill also redefines "parent" to further include a stepparent, foster parent, or a person who stands in loco parentis to a child, thereby extending leave to individuals who hold such status..

In addition, SB 579 will also amend the paid sick leave law (codified at Labor Code Section 233) to, among other things, permit employees to use sick leave for the purposes set forth in the Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014.  As a result, employees will be able to take paid time off to address a greater range of health needs or to provide care for a broader group of "family members." This new law became effective on January 1, 2016.

Military Leave for National Guard Members of Other States (AB 583).  California provides military leave protections to members of the National Guard who are called into active duty by the Governor of California or the President.  With some exception, returning National Guard members are generally entitled to be restored to their former positions, or ones with comparable pay, status, and seniority.  AB 583 expands these protections to members of the National Guard of other states who are ordered to serve by the Governor of their respective states or the President, and who have left a position in private employment in California.  These rights became effective on January 1, 2016.

Prohibitions Against the Unlawful Use of E-Verify (AB 622).  Federal law permits companies to employ only individuals who are authorized to work in the United States.  E-Verify is an electronic system administered by various federal agencies that allows employers to determine the work eligibility of their employees.  The E-Verify program, however, has come under fire over the years amid reports of it being misused for unlawful, discriminatory purposes.  AB 622 adds Section 2814 to the Labor Code, generally prohibiting employers from using the E-Verify system to check the employment authorization status of existing employees or applicants who have not received an offer of employment, or in a manner not required under federal law or authorized under any federal agency memorandum of understanding.  The new law does not otherwise restrict an employer's right to use E-Verify in accordance with federal law.  Further, if an employer receives notice of a tentative non-confirmation issued by the Social Security Administration or the Department of Homeland Security , the employer will be required to provide the notification to the affected person, as soon as practicable.  This new law became effective on January 1, 2016.

Procedures for the Labor Commissioner to Enforce Judgments (SB 588).  SB 588 adds several new sections and an entirely new chapter to the Labor Code.  These new rules do not necessarily create any additional requirements for employers, but rather establish new procedures that the Labor Commissioner can use to enforce judgments or awards arising from unpaid wages.  In general, these rules enable the Labor Commissioner to use any remedies available to a judgment creditor, and to act as a levying officer when enforcing a judgment pursuant to a writ of execution.  The Labor Commissioner, for example, will be permitted to issue liens on credits, money, or property belonging to an employer.  Should a final judgment for unpaid wages remain unsatisfied for 30 days after the time to appeal the judgment has expired, and there is no appeal pending, the employer must obtain a surety bond that covers the value of the judgment or otherwise must cease business operations in California.  SB 588 also amends Labor Code Section 588.1, extending individual liability to owners, directors, officers, and managing agents of the employer for any willful failure to pay wages, failure to issue pay stubs, failure to provide cooldown, rest, or meal periods, or failure indemnify business expenses.  These laws became operative on January 1, 2015.

Don't delay—make sure your company's policies and practices comply with these new laws so you and your employees can have a Happy New Year!

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of www.mondaq.com

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about Mondaq.com’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to unsubscribe@mondaq.com with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to webmaster@mondaq.com.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to EditorialAdvisor@mondaq.com.

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at enquiries@mondaq.com.

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at problems@mondaq.com and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.