My House My Rules: California Reigns In Employers’ Use Of Forum-Selection and Choice-of-Law Clauses to Avoid California Law

Last week, California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law Senate Bill 1241 (“SB 1241”).  The new law (available here), which takes effect on January 1, 2017, adds section 925 to the California Labor Code (“Section 925”).  In general, Section 925 will prohibit employers from requiring California-based employees to enter into agreements requiring them to:  (1) adjudicate claims arising in California in a non-California forum; or (2) litigate their claims under the law of another jurisdiction, unless the employee was represented by counsel.  Section 925 represents a considerable limit on parties’ rights to contract and may be the end of forum-selection and choice of law provisions, currently common in employment agreements.

For years, employers based outside of California have incorporated forum-selection and/or choice-of-law provisions in agreements with their California employees.  Some employers used these provisions to create company-wide uniformity among their workforce.  Others used forum-selection and choice-of-law provisions to avoid some of California’s more rigid rules about restrictive covenants.  Whatever the motivation, forum-selection and choice-of-law provisions have become commonplace in employment and arbitration agreements.

Continue reading “My House My Rules: California Reigns In Employers’ Use Of Forum-Selection and Choice-of-Law Clauses to Avoid California Law”

Have a Seat: The California Supreme Court Clarifies the Wage Orders’ Suitable Seating Rules

By Philippe A. Lebel and Thomas J. Barton

On April 4, 2016, the California Supreme Court issued an opinion concerning the Industrial Welfare Commission’s (IWC) Wage Orders’ suitable seating rules. According to the California Supreme Court, whether an employer must provide seating while employees are actively engaged in duties depends on employees’ tasks performed at given work locations. The Court determined that if the tasks being performed at any given location reasonably permit sitting, and provision of a seat would not interfere with performance of any other tasks that may require standing, an employer must provide a seat. The Court held that the determination of whether work “reasonably permits” sitting is a question to be resolved objectively, based on the totality of the circumstances. While an employer’s business judgment and the physical layout of the workplace are relevant factors, they are not dispositive. However, an employer’s preference that employees stand and/or individual employees’ physical characteristics are not to be considered. Finally, the Court held that the burden of establishing that no suitable seating is available falls on the employer.

The Wage Orders’ Seating Provisions

Over a century ago, the California Legislature established the IWC to investigate various industries and to promulgate Wage Orders establishing minimum wages, maximum work hours, and conditions of labor. The majority of Wage Orders currently in effect contain a section devoted to the provision of seating to employees—Section 14. Section 14(A) of the Wage Orders in question provides that “employees shall be provided with suitable seats when the nature of the work reasonably permits the use of seats.” Section 14(B) provides that “when employees are not engaged in the active duties of their employment and the nature of the work requires standing, an adequate number of suitable seats shall be placed in reasonable proximity to the work area, and employees shall be permitted to use such seats when it does not interfere with the performance of their duties.”

The Issues from Kilby and Henderson

The certified questions before the California Supreme Court arose from two related federal appeals, Kilby v. CVS Pharmacy, Inc. and Henderson v. JPMorgan Chase Bank NA. The cases involved application of identical seating provisions contained in Wage Orders 7 (Mercantile Industry) and 4 (Professional, Technical, Clerical, Mechanical and Similar Occupations), respectively.

In Kilby, the plaintiff, a CVS Pharmacy, Inc. (CVS), customer service representative, sought to represent other CVS retail employees who, like her, were denied seats while performing their jobs. The plaintiff’s duties in Kilby included operating a cash register, straightening and stocking shelves, organizing products in front of and behind the sales counter, cleaning the register, vacuuming, gathering shopping baskets, and removing trash. The district court concluded that Sections 14(A) and 14(B) of the applicable Wage Order were mutually exclusive. It reasoned that section 14(A) applied when an employee was actually engaged in work, while section 14(B) applied when an employee was not actively working. In evaluating the “nature of the work” under Section 14(A), the district court held that an employee’s entire range of assigned duties had to be considered together. Because it was undisputed that some of the performed duties required the employee to stand, the district court ruled that the plaintiff was not entitled to seating during her work time and granted summary judgment for CVS. The plaintiff appealed.

Henderson was a putative class action brought by three bank tellers at JPMorgan Chase Bank NA (Chase). Chase tellers had duties associated with their teller stations, including accepting deposits, cashing checks, and handling withdrawals. They also had duties away from their stations, such as escorting customers to safety deposit boxes, working at the drive-up teller window, and making sure that automatic teller machines were working properly.  These duties varied, depending on the shift or branch location and on whether the employee was a lead or regular teller. On the basis of these differences, the district court denied class certification, and the plaintiffs appealed.

Faced with Kilby and Henderson, the Ninth Circuit certified three questions for the California Supreme Court to answer:

  • Does the phrase “nature of the work” (used in Section 14 of most Wage Orders) refer to individual tasks that are performed throughout the workday, or to the entire range of an employee’s duties that are performed during a given day or shift?
  • When determining whether the nature of the work “reasonably permits” use of a seat, what factors should courts consider? Specifically, are an employer’s business judgment, the physical layout of the workplace, and the characteristics of a specific employee relevant factors?
  • If an employer has not provided any seat, must a plaintiff prove that a suitable seat is available in order to show that the employer has violated the seating provision?

A Location-Driven “Nature of the Work” Standard

As to the first certified question, the defendants argued that examining when the “nature of the work reasonably permits the use of seats” requires consideration of an employee’s job as a whole, i.e., a “holistic” consideration of all of an employee’s tasks and duties throughout a shift. In the defendants’ eyes, if the majority of an employee’s duties favored standing, no seat would be required. By contrast, the plaintiffs argued that whether the “nature of the work reasonably permits the use of seats” turns on a task-by-task evaluation of whether any single task may feasibly be performed seated. In their eyes, if any individual task could be done sitting down, a seat had to be provided.

The California Supreme Court, however, took a middle-of-the-road approach instead. The Court held that, when evaluating whether the “nature of the work reasonably permits the use of seats,” courts must examine subsets of an employee’s total tasks and duties by location, such as those performed at a cash register or a teller window, and must consider whether it is feasible for an employee to perform each set of location-specific tasks while seated. According to the Court, the focus should be on the actual tasks performed by employees (or those reasonably expected to be performed), as opposed to abstract characterizations, job titles, or job descriptions. In the Court’s view, tasks that are performed with more frequency or for a longer duration are more germane to the seating inquiry than tasks performed briefly or infrequently.

The Court also clarified that Section 14(A) and 14(B) of the Wage Orders are not mutually exclusive, although they do not apply at the same time. If an employee’s actual tasks at a discrete location make seated work feasible, he or she is entitled to a seat under Section 14(A) while working there. However, if other job duties take the employee to a different location where he or she must perform tasks while standing, the employee would be entitled to a seat under Section 14(B) during “lulls in operation.”

The Multifactor “Reasonably Permits” Analysis

According to the California Supreme Court, whether an employee is entitled to a seat under Section 14(A) depends on the totality of the circumstances. The analysis starts with an examination of the relevant tasks, grouped by location, and whether the tasks can be performed while seated or require standing. In undertaking this analysis, consideration must be given to the feasibility of providing seats. Feasibility considerations may include, for example, an assessment of whether providing a seat would unduly interfere with other standing tasks, whether the frequency of transition from sitting to standing may interfere with the work, or whether seated work would impact the quality and effectiveness of overall job performance. The analysis is to be qualitative in nature—not a rigid counting of tasks or amount of time spent performing them.

The Court held that an employer’s business judgment about the nature of work could be considered. However, the Court rejected the notion that an employer’s mere preference for standing—as opposed to sitting—could be part of the analysis.

As to work location, the Court held that the physical characteristics of the area where the work is performed should be part of the assessment. On the other hand, just as an employer’s preference for standing could not constitute a relevant “business judgment,” the Court held that employers are not permitted to deliberately design workspaces to further a preference for standing or to deny a seat that might otherwise be reasonably suited for the contemplated tasks.

Finally, the Court held that the analysis should focus on the nature of the tasks at issue and should take into account the location where they are to be performed, as opposed to specific employees’ experiences and abilities in performing tasks. Thus, whether a seat is required depends on the work, as opposed to the physical characteristics of any employees.

Showing That Seating Is Not Feasible Is an Employer’s Burden

The California Supreme Court also held that an employer that seeks to be excused from Section 14(A) bears the burden of showing that compliance is infeasible because no suitable seating exists. There is no obligation on plaintiffs to demonstrate that they requested a seat or that it would be feasible to provide seating for any position.


While the California Supreme Court’s opinion clarifies the Wage Orders’ seating requirements, it may require many California employers to dramatically alter their work environments by providing employees with seats. The decision has particularly significant implications for employers in customer-facing environments where seating may be less common and more difficult to implement, including in the retail and hospitality industries.

In light of this new guidance, employers who do not currently provide seats at all times should examine the nature of their employees’ job duties and work environments to determine whether certain types of work (and work locations) are amenable to seated employees. In addition, employers should ensure that they have suitable seats for employees when they are not actively engaged in their duties. For assistance with ensuring compliance, employers should seek advice from qualified California employment counsel.

Get the Most Out of Your Employee Payroll Audit

By Kate S. Gold, Heather B. Abrigo and Philippe Lebel

Employee payroll audits, which have long been recommended as a best practice for corporations that want to stay on the right side of the law, have become even more critical with the current proliferation of labor and employment laws at the state level. Among other things, the California Fair Pay Act, which went into effect on January 1, 2016, places new demands on California employers that in many cases can only be effectively satisfied by means that include a payroll audit.

Earlier this month, we held a webinar to discuss the CA Fair Pay Act requirements and what employees should do to comply. Below you will find some of the key takeaways.

What is the California Fair Pay Act?

The new law goes further and imposes more obligations on employers than longstanding federal and state equal-pay and employment-discrimination laws. More than simply requiring employers to pay men and women equal pay for the same work, the California statute prohibits employers from paying members of one sex less than the rates paid to employees of the opposite sex “for substantially similar work, when viewed as a composite of skill, effort, and responsibility, and performed under similar working conditions.” And the employees of opposite sexes whose jobs and pay are being compared need not work together in the same establishment. There are several important defenses to liability under the law, such as the employer’s use of a bona fide factor that is not sex-related.

How can a payroll audit help?

Determining what types of work are “substantially similar” in terms of skill, effort, responsibility and working conditions is no easy task. That’s where a payroll audit can help.

On a step-by-step basis, a properly conducted audit will identify potential problems under the California Fair Pay Act by identifying positions that have “substantially similar work,” analyzing the pay of these workers by gender, finding any disparities in pay, and determining whether any defenses apply. For example, does the company have a bona fide seniority system or merit system, or is there a business necessity for the disparities in pay?

In addition to these complex Fair Pay Act questions, employee payroll audits remain desirable or necessary for other purposes, such as ensuring that employees are treated fairly under the company’s employee benefit plan and that certain employees or groups of employees are not excluded from the plan.

What steps should be taken?

 When conducting a payroll audit, it should be done with review and consultation of attorney with the end goal of identifying and quickly addressing disparities that cannot be explained adequately or need to be corrected. It is important to note that the audit is subject to attorney/client privilege and/or work product protection. The following are key steps in the audit process:

  • Consider all job titles/descriptions across all geographic regions
  • Consider how to identify or sort based on disparate geographical locations
  • Compare the positions that have “substantially similar work
  • Determine if the statutory exemptions apply
  • Identify explanations for disparities
  • Address disparities that can’t be explained
  • Determine what action needs to be taken

Ongoing Compliance

From a compliance perspective, the number one benefit to conducting employee payroll audits is the ability to determine what action needs to be taken to address and correct disparities if they exist. Failure to address disparities that can’t be explained within the requirements of the California Fair Pay Act or the Federal Pay Act can result in penalties, sanctions and, in some cases, litigation with the DOL and/or IRS. Ongoing compliance should include regular review of the following:

  • Handbooks and policies to remove outdated references to “equal” work
  • Policies that prevent employees from discussing or asking about other employees’ compensation
  • How compensation decisions are made and adjust if necessary
  • Job descriptions – update and describe as comprehensive as possible
  • Record keeping – records must be kept for three years
  • Training of HR personnel, senior management on the new law and how it should be applied in setting compensation at hiring

Click here to watch the full presentation.

Click here to view a PDF of the presentation.

California Employers: New Poster to be Posted April 1, 2016

By Pascal Benyamini

Did you recently update your workplace posters? Time to do it again.

In California, all employers have obligations to satisfy workplace posting, such as posting information related to wages, hours and working conditions. The workplace posters must be placed in an area frequented by employees where these posters may be easily read during the workday.

As a result of new amended regulations pertaining to the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”) going into effect on April 1, 2016, certain covered employers must post a new poster on April 1, 2016. Employers with 5 or more employees (full-time or part-time) are covered by the FEHA and must post a specific notice, which replaces Pregnancy Disability Leave (“PDL”) Notice A. This new poster, titled “Your Rights and Obligations as a Pregnant Employee,” provides clarifications of the PDL, including, but not limited to, the following:

  • Eligible employees are entitled up to four months of leave per pregnancy, and not per year;
  • The four months means the working days the employee would normally work in one-third of a year or 17 1/3 weeks; and
  • PDL does not need to be taken all at once, but can be taken on an as-needed basis as required by the employee’s health care provider.

For a copy of this poster, click here.

Under the California Code of Regulations, “[a]ny FEHA-covered employer whose work force at any facility or establishment is comprised of 10% or more persons whose spoken language is not English shall translate the notice into every language that is spoken by at least 10 percent of the workforce.”  The Spanish version of the foregoing notice should be available soon at

Any time employers are required to update their posters and/or new (or amended) regulations are issued, employers should take the opportunity to ensure their workplace posters and their employee handbooks and policies are up to date and compliant.

For further information, please contact the author or any member of our Labor and Employment Practice Group.

Don’t Labor Under New Laws — What Employers Need to Know About 2016 California Labor Laws

By Mark Terman

*Originally published by CalCPA in the January/February 2016 issue of California CPA — the original article can be found here.

Many California employers feel over-regulated—and under-appreciated. Yet, surprisingly, proposed new regulation of employers has declined. In 2015, 224 bills introduced in the California Legislature mention “employer,” compared to 574 in 2014. Most of those bills did not pass, and of the ones that did, most were not signed into law by Gov. Brown. One veto blocked a bill (AB 465) that would have made pre-dispute arbitration agreements made as a condition of employment—the kind that are in widespread use across the state—unlawful. Another veto rejected a bill (AB 676) reintroduced this year that would have penalized employers for limiting job prospects of, or discriminating against, applicants who are not currently employed.

Key elements of some of the bills that became law affecting private employers, effective Jan. 1, 2016, unless otherwise mentioned and organized by bill number, follow.

Minimum Wage Boost

As of Jan. 1, the state minimum wage for non-exempt workers will increase to $10 per hour, up from $9. This change also impacts classification of most exempt workers. In addition to strict “duties tests” for administrative, executive and professional wage and hour exemptions, a salary of at least twice the state minimum wage must be paid to meet the “salary basis test.” That increases the annualized exempt salary requirement to $41,600, up from $37,440. Also affected is the retail inside-sales exemption, which requires employees be paid at least 1.5 times the state minimum wage, and at least half of their other earnings be from commissions.

An increasing number of municipalities have increased the minimum wage for companies who employ workers in their jurisdiction. As of July 1, minimum wage at Los Angeles employers with 26 or more employees will increase to $10.50 per hour, and will increase annually up to $15 per hour by July 1, 2021. Minimum wage for employees in San Francisco increased to $12.25 from $11.05 per hour May 1, 2015, and will incrementally increase to $15 per hour by July 1, 2018. Many other cities, including Berkley, Oakland and San Diego have either enacted or have pending minimum wage laws. In addition, living wage laws may require higher minimum wages be paid as a condition of contracting with local, state or federal agencies. Employers should monitor each of the requirements to assure compliance.

Penalties for Pre-offer E-Verify Use

Employers may hire only individuals who have the right to work in the United States—either U.S. citizens or foreign citizens with authorization issued by the federal government. E-Verify, administered by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Social Security Administration (SSA), is an internet-based system that allows employers to determine the eligibility of their employees to work in the United States.

AB 622 continues a California law trend to prevent employment discrimination of immigrants. The new law prohibits employers from using E-Verify to check the employment authorization status of employees or applicants who have not received an offer of employment. Post-offer use of E-Verify remains lawful, as does use required by federal law (such as certain federal contractors) or as a condition of receiving federal funds. In addition to other remedies that may be available, the new law establishes a civil penalty not to exceed $10,000 for each unlawful use of the E-Verify system.

AB 622 also mandates employers provide to the affected worker—as soon as practicable—any DHS or SSA notification containing information specific to the worker’s E-Verify case or any nonconfirmation notice, indicating that the E-Verify data entered does not match federal records.

More Labor Commissioner Enforcement Powers

AB 970 expands the Labor Commissioner’s power to enforce local laws regarding overtime and minimum wage, and to issue citations and penalties for violations, except when the local entity has already issued a citation for the same violation.

Labor Code Sec. 2802 requires employers to indemnify for expenses or losses incurred by the employee in direct consequence of the discharge of the employee’s duties or as a result of obeying the employer’s directions. In addition to a private right of action by the employee to recover these expenditures, AB 970 authorizes the Labor Commissioner to issue citations and penalties against employers who violate Sec. 2802.

Employment Discrimination Clarified

AB 987 clarifies that it is an unlawful employment practice under the Fair Employment and Housing Act for an employer to retaliate or otherwise discriminate against an employee for “requesting” an accommodation for a disability or religious belief or observance, regardless of whether the request was granted.

Employers Can Cure Some Violations to Avoid PAGA

California’s Private Attorneys General Act of 2004 (PAGA) permits an employee to sue to recover civil penalties for certain alleged Labor Code violations that could otherwise be pursued by the Labor and Workforce Development Agency on behalf of the employee and other current or former employees. Employee-side litigants have used the act to leverage penalties on a workforce-wide basis for technical Labor Code violations, even where the employee has not been damaged.

As of Oct. 2, 2015, AB 1506 allows employers the opportunity to correct itemized wage statements (i.e., paystubs) to include missing inclusive dates of the pay period and the name and address of the legal employer, to avoid a PAGA action over those defects. The employer may cure the alleged violation within 33 calendar days of the postmark date of the PAGA notice it receives. The bill requires only a showing that the employer has provided fully compliant paystubs to each aggrieved employee to establish cure.

Whistleblowers’ Family Members Protected

Labor Code secs. 98.6, 1102.5 and 6310 generally prohibit an employer from discharging or taking other adverse action against any employee or applicant who has complained about unlawful discrimination, retaliation or any adverse action; engaged in whistleblowing activity; or complained about unsafe working conditions.

AB 1509 provides that an employer, or a person acting on behalf of the employer, shall not retaliate
against an employee because the employee is a family member of a person who has, or is perceived to have, engaged in any acts protected by these provisions. The term “employer” or “person acting on their behalf ” includes “client employers” (i.e., a business entity that obtains or is provided workers to perform labor within its usual course of business from a labor contractor) or a “controlling employer” (i.e., an employer listed in Labor Code Section 6400(b) regarding multiemployer worksites).

Piece-Rate Worker Pay Requirements

AB 1513, which adds new Labor Code Sec. 226.2 and repeals others, applies to employees who are
compensated on a piece-rate basis for any work performed during a pay period. This new law requires that employees be compensated for rest and recovery periods and “other nonproductive time” separate from any piece-rate compensation as follows:

Rest and recovery periods must be compensated at a regular hourly rate that is no less than the higher of: (i) an “average hourly rate” determined by dividing the total compensation for the workweek, exclusive of compensation for rest and recovery periods and any premium compensation for overtime, by the total hours worked during the workweek; or (ii) the “applicable minimum wage,” defined by the bill as “the highest of the federal, state or local minimum wage applicable to the employment.”

Certain employers, who comply with the applicable minimum wage requirement, have until April 30 to program their payroll systems to perform and record the calculation required under the average hourly rate requirement and comply with the itemized wage statement requirements (see below), so long as such employers pay piece-rate employees retroactively for all rest and recovery periods at or above the applicable minimum wage from Jan. 1–April 30, inclusive, and pay the difference between the amounts paid and the amounts that would be owed under the average hourly rate requirement, together with interest.

Other nonproductive time is that which is under the employer’s control, exclusive of rest and recovery periods, and not directly related to the activity being compensated on a piece-rate basis. That time must be compensated at an hourly rate that is no less than the applicable minimum wage. The amount of other nonproductive time may be determined either through actual records or the employer’s reasonable estimates, whether for a group of employees or for a particular employee, of other nonproductive time worked during the pay period.

Finally, in addition to the list of items required by Labor Code Sec. 226 for itemized wage statements, Sec. 226.2 requires that the statements include the:

  • Total hours of compensable rest and recovery periods;
  • Rate of compensation; and
  • Gross wages paid for those periods during the pay period.

Employers who do not pay an hourly rate for all hours worked in addition to piece-rate wages must also list on the itemized statements the total hours of other nonproductive time, rate of compensation for that time and gross wages paid for that time during the pay period.

Hospital Meal Period Waivers

For non-exempt employees, Labor Code Sec. 512 requires two meal periods for work periods of more than 10 hours. However, employees are allowed to waive their second meal period if the total hours worked in their shift are no more than 12. Effective Oct. 5, 2015, SB 327 made statutory the longstanding rule under Sec. 11(D) of Wage Order 5 that health care industry employees who work shifts in excess of eight total hours in a workday are permitted to waive their second meal period. The bill effectively sets aside a contrary appellate court decision.

Equal Pay Act for Substantially Similar Work

SB 358, known as the California Fair Pay Act (CFPA), subjects employers to one of the strictest and most aggressive equal pay laws in the country.

Under the CFPA, an employer is prohibited from paying employees of the opposite sex lower wage
rates for “substantially similar work, when viewed as a composite of skill, effort and responsibility, and performed under similar working conditions.”

Previously, the equal pay statute was more limited. It prohibited employers from paying employees of the opposite sex in the same establishment for equal work on jobs the performance of which requires equal skill, effort and responsibility, and performed under similar working conditions. The standard permits employees to bring an unequal pay claim based on wage rates in any of their employer’s facilities and in other job categories as long as the work is substantially similar.

The employer’s defense burden has increased under the CFPA. An employer must establish that the entire wage differential is based on the reasonable application of one or more of the following:

  • A seniority system;
  • A merit system;
  • A system which measures earnings by quantity or quality of production; or
  • A bona fide factor other than sex—such as education, training or experience.

The last factor will apply if the employer shows that the factor is not the result of a sex-based differential in compensation, is related to the position and is consistent with business necessity. An employee can defeat this defense by proving that an alternative business practice exists that would serve the same business purpose without producing the wage differential.

Seeking to decrease pay secrecy, the CFPA further prohibits employers from enacting rules, policies or otherwise engaging in conduct that prohibits employees from disclosing their own wages, discussing the wages of others, asking about other employees’ wages or aiding and encouraging employees to exercise rights under the CFPA. Yet, no one, including an employer, is obligated to disclose employees’ wages.

Finally, the CFPA prohibits discharge, discrimination and retaliation of employees for asserting rights under the act. The statute, as amended by the CFPA, permits a civil action seeking reinstatement, lost wages and interest, an equal amount as liquidated damages, lost benefits, other equitable relief and attorneys fees recovery. Finally, the CFPA requires that employers maintain records of employees’ “wages and rates of pay, job classifications, and other terms and conditions of employment” for a three-year period.

Wage Garnishment Restrictions

SB 501 amends, repeals and adds Sec. 706.050 of the Code of Civil Procedure, relating to wage garnishment. The new law reduces the prohibited amount of an individual judgment debtor’s weekly disposable earnings subject to levy under an earnings withholding order from exceeding the lesser of 25 percent of the individual’s weekly disposable earnings or 50 percent of the amount by which the individual’s disposable earnings for the week exceed 40 times the state minimum hourly wage, or applicable local minimum hourly wage, if higher, in effect at the time the earnings are payable.

Employee Time Off

California’s Kin Care Law allows employees to use half of their accrued sick leave to care for a “family member” (as defined). The Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act (Paid Sick Leave Act) SB 579, which went into effect July 1, requires certain mandatory accrual of paid sick days. The bill effectively trues-up the two statutes by defining “sick leave” as leave provided for use by the employee during an absence from employment for purposes permitted by the Paid Sick Leave Act; prohibiting an employer from denying an employee the right to use sick leave; and taking specific discriminatory action against an employee for using, or attempting to exercise the right to use, sick leave for these purposes.

In other words, employees may use paid sick leave for their own health condition or preventative care, a family member’s health condition or preventative care, and if the employee is a victim of domestic assault, sexual violence and stalking. Further, “family member” now includes a child, regardless of age or dependency (including adopted, foster, step or legal ward), parent (biological, adoptive, foster, step, in-law or registered domestic partner’s parent), spouse, registered domestic partner, grandparent, grandchild or siblings.

The Family School Partnership Act applies only to employers with 25 or more employees and permits an employee—defined as a parent, guardian or grandparent having custody of a child in school (grades 1–12) or child day care facility—unpaid leave of up to 40 hours each year (and no more than eight hours in a calendar month) to participate in school activities, subject to specified conditions. SB 579 amends this act by changing its scope from “child day care facility” to “child care provider” and adding leave rights for stepparents or foster parents, or one who stands in loco parentis to a child. The new law also allows employees to take unpaid time off to enroll or reenroll their children in a school or with a licensed child care provider.

Even More Labor Commissioner Enforcement Powers

SB 588 provides the California Labor Commissioner with additional powers to enforce judgments against employers arising from the employers’ nonpayment of wages. The new law, among other things, authorizes the Labor Commissioner to use any of the existing remedies available to a judgment creditor and to act as a levying officer when enforcing a judgment pursuant to a writ of execution; and issue a notice of levy if the levy is for a deposit, credits, money or property in the possession or under the control of a bank or savings and loan association or for an account receivable or other general intangible owed to the judgment debtor by an account debtor.

If an employer fails to pay a judgment for unpaid wages within 30 days of it becoming “final” (i.e., exhaustion of appeals), the employer must stop doing business in California unless it posts bond up to $150,000 (depending on the unsatisfied portion of the judgment). And the Labor Commissioner can issue a “stop order” to suspend all business operations to enforce this new provision.

What’s Next?
Employers should consider how these new laws impact their workplaces, and then review and update their personnel practices and policies with the advice of experienced attorneys or human resource professionals.

Q&A: How to Ensure Compliance with California’s New Fair Pay Law

California’s Fair Pay Act, which takes effect Jan. 1, 2016, mandates that male and female employees doing “substantially similar” work be paid the same wages, unless employers can demonstrate that certain factors such as seniority, a merit system, education, training, experience or productivity can account for the gender disparities. As 2015 winds down, other companies either based in California or operating in the state may still be scrambling to ensure they’re prepared for the new law.

SHRM Online asked Los Angeles partner Mark Terman, as well as two other industry experts, to share their views about statistical analyses, labor law and compliance measures related to the Fair Pay Act.

Please click here to view the entire Q&A at SHRM Online.