NEW YEAR – NEW LAWS

December 21, 2012 has come and gone, and with it the belief that the Mayan’s “end of the world” prediction would obviate the need for employers to comply with the multitude of new California employment legislation.  The following are just a few of the changes to the law that employers can expect for 2013:

Changes to the Law Governing Personnel Files.

The law now imposes a 30-day deadline from the date of a current or former employee’s request for copies of his or her personnel file.  Further, if an employer has not already done so, it must develop and provide forms to their employees upon request so they may request a review or copies of their personnel records.  Failure to comply with this new law may result in substantial penalties.

Commission Agreements Must Be In Writing.

Employers who compensate their employees by way of commission payments must enter into written contracts with such employees that specify the formula for calculating commissions, and the method of payment.  Further, employers must obtain a signed acknowledgement of receipt from these employees showing that they received a fully executed copy of the written contract.  Failure to comply with this new law can subject an employer to substantial penalties under California’s Private Attorney General Act.

Employers Access to an Employee’s Social Media Information Highly Restricted.

Employers are prohibited from asking applicants and current employees to disclose any information related to their personal social media accounts, which includes an employee’s email account and text messages.  The law also prohibits an employer from retaliating against an applicant or employee that refuses to make these disclosures.  The only exception is where an employer has a reasonable belief that the employee has engaged in misconduct, and the information requested is solely for the purposes of conducting an investigation.

New Regulations Governing Pregnancy Disability Leave.

The new regulations redefine the number of days that employees may take for Pregnancy Disability Leave.  Employers are also required to notify employees in writing when they require medical certification for the leave.  Employers are further required to post new notices in the workplace to advise employees of these changes.

These new laws, which went into effect on January 1, 2013, will require California businesses to revisit their policies and procedures to ensure they do not unwittingly expose themselves to liability for failure to modify their practices in accordance with the new legislation and case law.  Employers are advised to consult with experienced employment counsel before revising or implementing their employment policies.

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