California (September 11, 2019) - It’s not often that we get to advise on reasonable compliance developments out of California. So, we are happy to report that on August 30, 2019, Governor Newsom signed Senate Bill 778 into law which delays the expanded sexual harassment training requirements applicable to employers with five or more employees in California.
SB 1343 - Expanded Training Requirements
As you may recall, California employers with 50 or more employees are required to provide supervisory employees with two hours of sexual harassment training once every two years. In September of 2018, SB 1343 expanded this requirement to all employers with five or more employees, including temporary and seasonal employees.
In a significant move, SB 1343 also required all employers with five or more employees to provide non-supervisory employees with one hour of sexual harassment training once every two years. The deadline for this expanded training was January 1, 2020.
SB 778 – Delay and Clarifications
In addition to struggling to meet the training deadline, confusion ensued regarding the two-year training cycle because the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) took the position that employees who completed training in 2018 needed to be retrained prior to the new January 1, 2020 deadline. To resolve these issues, SB 778 delays the expanded training requirements and clarifies the following:
- The new training deadline is January 1, 2021, and once every two years thereafter;
- Employers who complied with the training requirements of SB 1343 in 2019 will not need to retrain their employees prior to the new deadline. Instead, they can provide additional training in accordance with the regular two-year cycle. For example, an employee who received compliant training on June 30, 2019 will not need to be retrained until some time prior to June 29, 2021; and
- Newly hired supervisors and those promoted into a supervisory position must receive the required training within six months of hire or the assumption of a supervisory role.
The California DFEH is in the process of preparing online, interactive training courses for both the two-hour supervisory training and the one-hour non-supervisory employee training. Despite this delay, all employers should continue to move forward with developing their compliance training programs, particularly if the primary language of your workforce is not English.
It is also important to note that SB 778 only delays the expanded requirements of SB 1343. Accordingly, employers with 50 or more employees must continue to comply with the two-year training cycle for their supervisory employees.
Harassment prevention training has long been a best practice for employers, but as more states enact and/or expand mandatory sexual harassment training requirements, employers with multi-state operations will need to closely monitor developments and update their compliance programs.
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