Normally at the beginning of the year I prod my clients to update their employee handbooks and refresh their management training as required by California law. It seems that the beginning of the year has slipped by and we are already in August, but here is the reminder. Earlier this year several laws took effect which impact the manner in which an employer operates their business (such as their ability to inquire into criminal history; and the right to ask about prior salaries). Likewise, the California legislature added “abusive conduct” and “transgender rights” to the list of protected classes and mandatory training. All of these impact the employer’s operations with respect to hiring and employment, and require that employment applications as well as employee handbooks be amended to reflect the new laws (and afford employers the greatest protection possible). For employers who already have employee handbooks, they should be reviewed and updated. For those who do not have a handbook (or who have obtained employee handbooks online or elsewhere) I would strongly advise that they be reviewed to make sure that they are compliant with California law. While it seems bothersome to have to update employment application forms and handbooks on an annual basis, it is absolutely essential for California employers to protect themselves to the greatest degree possible. Updates should not take long once the handbook is well drafted and legally correct in California but there is no guarantee that handbooks obtained online, from payroll services or even from some legal counsel, will meet the latest requirements of California law.
Employers are also reminded that California still requires companies with 50 or more employees to provide bi-annual training to supervisors and managers with respect to sexual harassment (which now includes abusive conduct and transgender rights). In addition, employers are supposed to provide this training within six (6) months of hiring new managers and to have proof that the training not only occurred but was “interactive.” Some courts have recently opined that online classes are not “interactive.” Training for your managers must be at least two (2) hours in length and needs to meet certain requirements outlined by the Department of Fair Employment & Housing. Training now includes abusive conduct and transgender rights and can be provided by my office at a reasonable cost, including documentation for managers and proof of training. Clients and business owners alike are encouraged to contact me with regards to the above or any other questions they have regarding labor and employment issues and changes to the law in the past year.