In 2018, it’s as important as ever to stay informed of new hiring and labor laws, and the challenges these could present to your business. The most recent installment of employment rules and regulations include some that relate directly to company hiring practices, and others that could impact your budget.

Don’t wait until your business is fined – or worse, sued – before taking steps to make sure you’re compliant. A little time spent looking into how these new obligations affect you – and some legal advice on your current HR practices – is all it really takes to stay in the clear.

Here are 4 of the key laws you should start with when investigating changes to your role as an employer:

1.    Job Applicant Conviction History

You may have heard rumblings about “banning the box” for some time now. Assembly Bill 1008 confirms that you can no longer ask potential job candidates – by way of an application check-box or any other means – whether they have a criminal record.

The point is to ensure that misdemeanors, like driving a vehicle with a suspended license for example, don’t unfairly affect a job-hunter’s prospects. And while your company can still run background checks on potential employees, any information you discover about prior arrests or convictions must be handled in accordance with some very strict rules.

2.    Job Applicant Salary Information

Some employers use information about the previous salaries of job applicants as a bargaining chip to pay a lower wage – or to hire the lowest-paid candidate outright. But because Assembly Bill 168 now prohibits your business from asking about employment salary histories, the State is hoping to:

  • do away with power imbalances between employers and employees during wage negotiations, and
  • narrow the gender gap in salaries by not carrying past wage discriminations forward

3.    Minimum Wage Increases

If you run a smaller business in California – one with 25 employees or less – you’re probably already aware that the minimum wage increased to $10.50 per hour as of January 1 this year. Similarly, the minimum pay rate for organizations employing 26 workers or more is now $11 per hour.

No matter how many staff you employ, your wage expenses are going nowhere but up. Senate Bill 3 outlines an incremental strategy for raising the minimum hourly wage over the next few years. And for budget-planning purposes, you might want to take note that the plan is to reach $15 per hour across the board by 2023.

4.    Expansion of the Parental Leave Act

If you’re a smaller company with staff who are about to become joyful new parents, you should know that a sanctioned leave now extends to businesses with 20-plus workers. Job-protected parental leave used to apply only to companies employing 50 people or more. But Senate Bill 63 – the New Parent Leave Act – aims to level that playing field a little.

You’re now required to approve up to 12 weeks of unpaid parental leave for employees who’ve worked at least 1250 hours during the previous year. While your business is not expected to pay for the leave directly, you do have to let staff fund their time away from work by using any accrued sick or vacation hours.

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