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Five new laws affecting California workers starting January 1

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California's employment law landscape is constantly evolving, trying to strike a balance between the interests of employers and their workers. Every year the state passes new laws to better adapt to the modern workplace. In 2017, these new laws have covered topics like wages, family leave, workplace harassment and job applicant rights.

The National Law Review recently posted a summary of new employment laws going into effect January 1, 2018. Read on to learn about five of these new laws and their implications for California's workers.

  • Minimum wage increase - California will take another step toward a statewide minimum wage of $15. Starting on January 1, employers with 26 or more employees will be required to pay workers $11 per hour. The minimum wage will remain $10.50 per hour for businesses with 25 or fewer employees.
  • Parental leave requirements - The California Family Rights Act already requires that businesses with more than 50 employees provide up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave within a year of a new child's birth, adoption or foster care placement. Starting on January 1, this law will expand to cover all businesses with at least 20 employees.
  • Banning the box - Employers with five or more employees will be barred from inquiring about criminal history on job applications. Employers may not seek out any criminal history until a conditional offer of employment is extended. If a preliminary decision not to hire is made based on criminal history, the applicant must be given a chance to respond.
  • Salary history - This law also affects job applicants. Employers may not ask about an applicant's salary history, including wages or benefits. They are also barred from seeking this information through recruiters or background checks.
  • Expanding harassment training - Supervisors at businesses with more than 50 employees are required to go through harassment prevention training every two years. Starting in 2018, this training will include discussions of harassment based on gender identity, gender expression and sexual orientation.

California is considered a leader in employment law matters since the state typically adopts more progressive policies than the rest of the nation. We might expect to see other states adopt similar laws in the months and years to come.

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