California: Enacted 2011 Legislation Impacts Employers

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California has ended their 2011 legislative session. Governor Jerry Brown has signed many bills into law that may impact California employers in 2012 and beyond. These enacted bills vary in content and scope. Listed below are some important highlights and how they may affect employers.

Gender Identity and Expression and Discrimination Based on Genetic Information: Assembly Bill 887 and Senate Bill 559 affect employers. AB 887 amends the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), redefines the definition of gender, requires an employer to allow gender expression related dress, and prohibits gender-related employment violence, and related housing discrimination. Senate Bill 559 prohibits discrimination under the Unruh Civil Rights Act and the State Fair Employment and Housing Act with regard to genetic information. This bill expands the basis on which discrimination is prohibited under anti-discrimination provisions.

Required Employee Disclosures: Assembly Bill 243 requires farm labor contractors to disclose in the itemized statement the name and address of the legal entity that secured the employer’s services.  Assembly Bill 469, referred to as the “Wage Theft Prevention Act of 2011” requires employers to provide employees with certain documentation at the time of hiring. The documentation must specify the rate and the basis, whether hourly, salary, commission, or otherwise, of the employee’s wages. The employer must notify each employee in writing of any changes to the information within 7 calendar days of the changes unless otherwise specified. The bill also outlines penalties. These laws are effective January 1, 2012.

Workers’ Compensation Notices: Assembly Bill 335 requires informational material to be written in plain language. The bill further addresses the notice of potential liability for benefits which is covered in California Workers’ Compensation pamphlets. This law is effective January 1, 2012.

Pregnancy Disabilities and Leave-Related Conditions: Assembly Bill 592 makes it an unlawful employment practice for employers to interfere with, restrain, or deny rights provided an employee to take leave as specified under the law. Senate Bill 299 amends existing law, prohibiting an employer from refusing to maintain and pay for coverage under a group plan for an employee who takes leave. These laws are effective January 1, 2012.

Hospital Infant Feeding Act: Under Senate Bill 502, general acute care hospitals and special hospitals that have a perinatal unit must have an infant-feeding policy. This policy must be clearly posted in the unit or on the hospital or health system Internet Web site. This law is effective January 1, 2014.

Occupational Safety and Health-Related: Assembly Bill 1136 requires an employer to maintain safe patient handling policies, as part of the injury and illness prevention programs required by existing regulations. Employers are required to adopt patient protection and health care worker back and musculoskeletal injury prevention plans. They must include a safe patient handling policy component to protect patients and health care workers in health care facilities. This law is effective January 1, 2012.

Commission Agreements: Assembly Bill 1396 requires that when an employer enters into an employment contract with an employee and the method of payment includes commissions the commission agreement must be in writing. This law is effective January 1, 2013.

Credit Reports in Employment: Assembly Bill 22 restricts employers use of credit reports in hiring and personnel decisions. Employers are prohibited from obtaining an employee’s/prospective employee’s credit report, with the exception of certain financial institutions, law enforcement, managers, and specified others. This law is effective January 1, 2012.

Health Insurance Discrimination in Regards to Domestic Partner Designation: Senate Bill 757 addresses equal health insurance coverage for domestic partners. Group health care service plan contracts and group health insurance policies are subject to the requirement to provide equal coverage for domestic partners as provided to spouses, as specified under the law. This law is effective January 1, 2012.

Organ Donation Leave: Senate Bill 272 provides that organ donation leave must be calculated by business days not calendar days. Employee policies may need to be updated to include important aspects of the law. This law is effective January 1, 2012.

Employment and Hiring Practices: Assembly Bill 1236 prohibits the state, or a city, county, city and county, or special district from requiring an employer to use an electronic employment verification system, except under certain conditions like when required by federal law or as a condition of receiving federal funds, as specified. This law is effective January 1, 2012.

This summary is provided as general information on some of the legislative bills enacted during California’s 2011 legislative session; this list is not a comprehensive list. For more complete information and specifics on particular legislative bills and how they may impact your individual company, please visit