News Analysis

By Drew Phelps

New year, new you … new laws?

Each year, new laws come into effect and, each year, these new laws affect people in new and different ways.

Among others, these groups will see changes due to California laws that take effect Jan. 1, 2018:

Minimum-Wage Earners

Starting Jan. 1, businesses with over 25 employees will have to pay a minimum wage of $11 per hour, up from $10.50 this year.

Businesses with less than 25 employees must now pay at least $10.50 per hour.

These raises could also have effects on other wage earners. Studies have shown that wage growth at the bottom creates a “ripple effect” on wages throughout the economy.

Furthermore, according to the National Law Review, this will also adjust the requirements for “exempt” overtime status for employees, which “requires exempt employees to earn a salary equivalent no less than two times the state minimum wage for full-time employment.” According to that rule, employees must now be paid at least $45,760 annually to still qualify for overtime exempt status.

New Parents and Their Employers

According to Senate Bill 63 (Jackson), new parents can now take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to spend time with their child within the first year of its birth, adoption, or foster care placement.

The bill states that  an employee must: “(1) have worked for the employer more than 12 months, (2) have worked at least 1250 hours during the prior 12-month period, and, (3) work at a worksite where there are at least 20 employees within a 75-mile radius.”

However, businesses with over 50 employees already follow these requirements due to the California Family Rights Act, so this change only really applies to businesses with between 20 and 50 workers.

Job Seekers — Particularly Those With a Criminal History

Two big changes are coming Jan. 1 for job seekers.

First, Assembly Bill 163 (Eggman) prohibits employers from asking about prior pay history in the hiring process. Aimed at reducing the gender wage gap, this means that employers cannot use past salaries to determine the salary for a new job. If the candidate voluntarily chooses to disclose past salary information, that is allowed.

Additionally, the law also requires businesses to respond to reasonable requests for a general pay scale for the position, meaning vague salary expectations in job postings will no longer be permitted.

Meanwhile, AB 1008 (McCarty) will stop employers from inquiring about criminal history in the hiring process. Known as the “Ban the Box” provision, it prevents employers from considering the candidate’s criminal background until employment is offered.

Once a conditional offer of employment is made, the employer may seek certain criminal history. If any infractions are found and the offer is reconsidered, the employer must provide written notice to the candidate, who is then permitted a response. From there, there is a detailed timeline of how the process must proceed.

Gun Ammo Purchases

Starting Jan. 1, all ammunition must be purchased in person through a vendor licensed by the Department of Justice.

This prohibits online sales or other purchases that require delivery (you can still get it delivered to the vendor and pick it up there), any transfers between people who purchased their ammunition independently, and any personal transportation of ammunition from outside California into the state.

Undocumented Immigrants and Their Employers

When 2018 hits, employers will be forbidden from “(1) providing federal immigration enforcement agents access to nonpublic areas without a judicial warrant, and, (2) providing agents access to employee records without a subpoena or judicial warrant.”

However, a different set of rules apply for Form I-9 inspections. According to AB 450 (Chiu), “employers must: (1) post a notice to all current employees informing them of any federal immigration agency’s inspections of Form I-9 or other employment records within 72 hours of receiving Notice of Inspection, (2) provide a copy of the Notice to an affected employee upon reasonable request, and, (3) give each affected employee and the collective bargaining representative (if applicable) a copy of inspection results and written notice of the employer’s and employee’s obligations arising from the inspection within 72 hours of receiving the results.”

General Contractors

For new private construction contracts after Jan. 1, the liability for any unpaid wages or benefits owed to laborer by a subcontractor is shifted to the general contractor.

This could raise costs for certain projects. For example, if the general contractor pays the subcontractor but then also has to pay unpaid employees. But the law also allows general contractors to now request payroll records to verify that their subcontractors are keeping up with payments.

People Who Buy, Sell or Use Light Bulbs

As of Jan. 1, manufacturers will no longer be allowed to produce traditional incandescent bulbs for sale in California.

This change derives from federal law, a 2007 energy efficiency law signed by George W. Bush, but California is getting ahead of the curve by implementing it two years early. You may still be able to find a few incandescent bulbs in stores during January since retailers are allowed to sell off existing stock, but they will not be around much longer.

There are many changes coming down the pike in 2018. Not all will take effect New Year’s Day, but these provisions listed here, and a few others, will become law once the calendar flips.


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