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Tips for an HR Action Plan for Workplace Legislation

Effective January 1, 2020

SB30: Eliminates Same-Sex and Age Requirements for Domestic Partnership

This bill removes the requirement that persons be of the same sex or of the opposite sex and over 62 years of age in order to enter into a state-registered domestic partnership. Consequently, employers may have more employees who now qualify for domestic partnership who may seek benefits for their domestic partners and their partner’s dependents.

Our advice: Keep in mind, this is for state-registered domestic partners, a process not subject to your local controls. You may need to provide some clarity to your workforce regarding the state process, and how it relates (or not) to any local policy you have regarding domestic partner benefits. And please remember that the Federal Government does not recognize domestic partnerships and, therefore, the benefits for the domestic partner and their dependents may become a reportable or taxable income for the employee. Be clear in your recordkeeping, tax reporting and benefits communications!

AB 9: Expanding Statute of Limitations for FEHA Claims

Currently, someone alleging violation of the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) has one year to file a complaint with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH). AB 9 extends that period from one to three years.

Our advice: It’s time to review and modify your document retention practices so that you can be ready to defend claims from employees, former employees, and applicants that go back three years. Consider also whether or not you need to expand documentation requirements to capture relevant data contemporaneously – among other practices, we have noted documents that are updated, or signed illegibly with no printed name of the signer, or noted from meetings with no list of attendees included….

SB 188: Prohibiting Discrimination Based on Protected Hairstyles

SB 188 expands the definition of race under the FEHA to prohibit racial discrimination and harassment based upon a person’s natural hairstyle. Under SB 188, natural and “protective” hairstyles such as “braids, locks, and twists” are now protected.

Our advice: Once again, time to revisit any policies you have that address employee grooming choices. Consider the big picture before revising: What are you really trying to achieve, a grooming policy may not be the best approach.

Effective January 15, 2020

Exclusions from the FLSA Regular Rate of Pay

The Department of Labor has published a Final Rule that clarifies and amends federal regulations concerning what must be included and what may be excluded when calculating the regular rate of pay under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

Our advice: This seems simpler than it is, and may not save you any money. First, you need to distinguish those compensation items associated with FLSA compliance from those bargained for inclusion in overtime calculations, and do the math; if you want to change the way you pay overtime, consult with legal counsel and consider your meet and confer obligations FIRST. It may be helpful to publish information for your agency about the distinctions between FLSA overtime obligations and bargained ones – this can help you use the right language to describe what you intend as you bargain in the future.

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