Human resource tools and information whenyou need them



Copyright 2003 - 2013 The Management Advantage, Inc.

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This information is intended to be a summary of laws and regulations applying to California employers. It should not be construed as legal advice. If further information is needed, please contact your labor attorney.

If you have ONE or more employees you must be concerned with:

1. Federal and State Payroll Withholding Regulations

  • IRS withholding.
  • Franchise Tax Board withholding.
  • FICA (Social Security withholding).
  • Medicare withholding.
  • Garnishments.
  • Child Support withholding.
  • Wage liens.

2. California Industrial Welfare Commission Orders

  • Specifies wages, hours and working conditions.
  • Overtime payment requirements.
  • Regulates employee labor for those under 18 years old.
  • Poster requirements for all employers.

3. Unemployment Insurance

  • Wagner-Peyser Act of 1933 set guidelines for state and federal insurance, unemployment compensation programs.
  • California unemployment insurance system created by the Unemployment Reserves Commission and administered by the California Employment Development Department (EDD).
  • Poster requirement.

4. Workers' Compensation Act (California)

  • Administered by the Division of Workers' Compensation within the Department of Industrial Relations which also manages vocational rehabilitation services.
  • Protects employees under a "no fault" insurance program paid for by employers.
  • Requires employers to provide insurance coverage to employees.
  • Protects employees through compensation for work-related illness or injury.

5. State Disability Insurance (SDI) - Unemployment Insurance Code

  • Compensates employees for mental and physical conditions that prevent them from performing their customary work, if injury or illness is not a direct result of performing paid work. [See: Family Temporary Disability Insurance Leave (FTDI)]

6. National Labor Relations Act (NLRA)

  • Provides employee rights to organize, join unions, and engage in collective bargaining.
  • Protects against unfair labor practices.

7. Agricultural Labor Relations Act (California)

  • Provides certain rights to agricultural employees.

8. Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938

  • Regulates federal minimum wage and overtime pay requirements.
  • Protects against oppressive child labor.

9. Equal Pay Act of 1963

  • Requires equal pay for equal work.
  • Prohibits discrimination in pay based on sex of employee.

10. Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA)

  • Regulates pension and retirement plans.
  • Regulates profit sharing plans and defined benefit plans.
  • Regulates welfare benefit plans (health and life insurance).

11. Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986

  • Requires verification of both identity and employment eligibility using Form I-9 for people hired after 11-6-86.
  • Protects against discrimination based on national origin.
  • Poster requirement.

12. Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970

  • Federal law enforced in California by Cal-OSHA whose regulations equal or exceed all federal requirements for employers.
  • Requires employers to furnish employees a place of employment free from recognized hazards that are likely to cause death or serious physical harm.

13. SB 198 (California)

  • Requires all California employers to have a written Injury and Illness Prevention Program (IPP).
  • Establishes requirements for employee training, accident reporting, hazard prevention, and workplace inspections.
  • Record keeping requirements.

14. The Employee Polygraph Protection Act of 1988

  • Generally bans use of polygraph and lie detectors by employers (except prospective employees of security guard firms or people who will be involved in manufacture, distribution or dispensing of controlled substances).
  • Poster requirement.

15. Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Sections 503 and 504)

  • Requires federal contractors with contracts valued at $2,500 or more to avoid discriminating against qualified disabled individuals in employment decisions.
  • Prohibits discrimination against qualified disabled individuals under any program or activity receiving federal assistance.
  • Requires employers to reasonably accommodate disabled employees and job applicants.

16. The Vietnam Era Veterans Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974

  • Requires federal contractors with contracts valued at $25,000 or more to take affirmative action to employ and promote qualified veterans of all wars and Vietnam-era veterans.

17. Uniformed Services Employment and Re-employment Rights Act of 1994

  • Prohibits discrimination against employees for activities required by service in a branch of the U.S. military, state National Guard unit, or uniformed civilian service.
  • Guarantees re-employment rights to employees following military service.

18. Consumer Credit Protection Act

  • Prohibits an employer from discharging an employee because his or her earnings have been subject to garnishment for any one indebtedness.

19. The Fair Credit Reporting Act

  • Requires employers who reject job applicants because of a written credit report to advise the applicant and supply the applicant with the name and address of the consumer reporting agency from which the report was obtained.

20. Fair and Accurate Credit Transaction Act of 2003

  • "Red Flag Rules" apply to employers who use credit checks as part of background investigations in the employment selection process. Feedback about an "address discrepancy" triggers these rules.

21. Whistle Blower Laws

  • Many federal statutes have protections against retaliation for employees who report violations by their employers of certain safety and/or environmental standards.

22. Portability of Benefits (HIPAA)

  • Health Insurance and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) requires any employer who offers health insurance coverage to automatically provide employees and dependents with certificates of coverage when: 1) The employee's plan coverage ends under the plan; 2) The employee's COBRA coverage (if any) ends.
  • Private sector group health plans must disclose certain benefit plan information to employees.
  • This law limits exclusions for pre-existing conditions and prohibits discrimination against employees and dependents based on health status for health insurance premiums or enrollment.
  • Having a "Certificate of Group Health Plan Coverage" may allow an employee to avoid a coverage exclusion period for pre-existing conditions when moving from one health plan to another.

23. Family Temporary Disability Insurance Leave (FTDI)

  • Paid leave for employees who contribute to the California State Disability Insurance (SDI) program. Reimbursement of 55% of base wage for up to six weeks in any 12-month period. Payments are tax free and are capped at $728 per week.
  • 7-day waiting period each time employee uses the benefit. Employer may require employee to use up to two weeks of unused vacation at beginning of FTDI leave. The first week of vacation would constitute the 7-day waiting period.
  • No guaranteed return in this law…but check on provisions and employee eligibility for guaranteed return under FMLA/CFRA or Pregnancy Disability Leave laws.
  • No limit on the number of employees who can be gone on this leave at any one time.

24. Emergency Duty Leave (California)

  • All employers are required to permit without penalty an employee taking time off to perform emergency duty as a volunteer firefighter, reserve peace officer, or emergency reserve person.

If you have TWO or more employees you must be concerned with:

25. Cal-COBRA

  • Qualifying events are the same as for federal COBRA, except that the employer bankruptcy is not considered a qualifying event under Cal-COBRA.

26. Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996

  • Requires all states to establish and maintain a New Hire Reporting System. All employers are required to submit information about every new hire beginning July 1, 1998. Contact your state employment service for details.

If you have FIVE or more employees you must be concerned with:

27. California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA)

  • Requires equal employment opportunity.
  • Protects against discrimination based on: sex, race, color, ancestry, religious creed, national origin, physical disability (including HIV and AIDS), mental disability, medical condition (cancer), marital status, sexual orientation, or political affiliation. Age consideration in employment decisions is prohibited for everyone, the "over 40" provisions having been eliminated by AB1599 on 1-1-2003.
  • Allows up to four months of unpaid leave of absence for pregnancies, childbirth or related medical conditions upon certification of pregnant employee's inability to continue working.
  • Protects against sexual harassment in the workplace and requires employers to distribute DFEH information sheet on sexual harassment. Requires all subject employers to have policies against harassment which meet minimum requirements as specified by the requirements of AB 2264 (Government Code Section 12950).
  • Enforcement is by Department of Fair Employment and Housing.
  • Poster requirements.

28. Pregnancy Disability Job Accommodation (California)

  • AB 2865 (California Government Code Section 12945) requires employers to reasonably accommodate temporarily disabled pregnant employees who request a transfer to a less strenuous or hazardous position if the request is made with the advice of her physician. However, an employer need not accommodate a pregnant employee by (a) creating additional employment which would not otherwise exist; (b) discharging another employee; (c) transferring any employee with more seniority; or (d) promoting any employee who is not qualified to perform the job.

If you have TEN or more employees you must be concerned with:

29. California Safe Drinking Water & Toxics Enforcement Act of 1986 (Proposition 65)

  • Employers are prohibited from knowingly or intentionally causing certain chemical exposures. Requires written notices to be posted at building entrances in some circumstances.

If you have FIFTEEN or more employees you must be concerned with:

30. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964

  • Requires equal employment opportunity.
  • Protects against discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin.
  • Protects against sexual harassment in the workplace.
  • Poster requirement.

31. Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978

  • Defines pregnancy as a temporary disability and requires accommodation on the job.
  • Guarantees right to return to same or similar job with same pay following disability.
  • Amends Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title VII.

32. Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1988

  • Requires federal contractors with contracts valued at $25,000 or more to maintain a drug-free workplace and follow specific regulations involving drug-testing and employee notification.
  • Requires random drug testing for federal workers holding sensitive jobs.
  • Requires testing in certain employees regulated by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

33. Drug-Free Workplace Act (California, 1990)

  • Same as federal requirements.
  • Applies to state contractors.

34. Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990

  • Applies to employers of 25 or more on July 26, 1992.
  • Applies to employers of 15 or more on July 26, 1994.
  • Provides protection in employment for people who are physically or mentally disabled.
  • Requires reasonable accommodation for those otherwise qualified to perform essential job functions.
  • Poster requirement.

On September 25, 2008, President Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act of 2008. It broadens the definition of the term "disability" and expands the definition of "major life activities" by including two non-exhaustive lists. It also provides that mitigating measures other than "ordinary eyeglasses or contact lenses" shall not be considered in assessing whether an individual has a disability. It also clarifies that an impairment that is episodic or in remission is a disability if it would substantially limit a major life activity when active. And, it changes the definition of "regarded as" having a disability, saying that people who are only "regarded as" having a disability are not entitled to job accommodation unless there is medical support for that belief.

35. Civil Rights Act of 1991

  • Allows jury trials for employment discrimination cases.
  • Sets limits on punitive damage awards.
  • Establishes employer requirements for defense.

36. Organ Donation and Bone Marrow Donation Leave (California)

  • Requires employers to grant as much as 30 days paid leave within a one year period for employee organ donors and 5 days paid leave within a one-year period for employees who donate bone marrow.

37. Civil Air Patrol Leave (California)

  • Employers must permit employees with at least 90 days of service to take up to 10 days per year of Civil Air Patrol leave. Leave may be unpaid, but an employee cannot be required to substitute paid time off for the unpaid leave.

If you have TWENTY or more employees you must be concerned with:

38. Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA)

  • Protects against discrimination in employment for employees who are at least 40 years of age.

39. Older Workers Benefit Protection Act (OWBPA)

  • Amends the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967.
  • Provides for employers to use waivers to future legal challenges due to separation of employment in exchange for some tangible consideration such as severance pay.
  • The individual must be given 21 days to consider signing the waiver (45 days if the waiver is sought from a group of employees, i.e., as part of an early retirement incentive program).
  • The individual must be given 7 days to revoke the waiver after signing it.

40. Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1986 (COBRA)

  • Requires employers to offer continuation of certain benefit programs to former employees and their dependents. Employer may bill cost to former employee along with an administrative fee of up to 2%.

If you have TWENTY FIVE or more employees you must be concerned with:

41. Drug Rehabilitation Leave (California) (Labor Code Sections 1025-1028)

  • Requires an employer to reasonably accommodate an employee's request to enter either an alcohol or drug rehabilitation program. Employers are not required to pay for this time off. Reasonable accommodation may include payment for the cost of the program depending on circumstances.

42. Literacy Leave (California) (Labor Code Sections 1040-1044)

  • Requires employers to accommodate employees who seek help in solving a problem with illiteracy. Accommodation is required unless it would cause an undue hardship. Employers are not required to pay the employee for time off. Employers must take reasonable safeguards to protect the privacy of those who disclose the problem of illiteracy and employers may not terminate an employee who discloses illiteracy.

43. School Leave (California) (Labor Code Sections 230.7 and 230.8)

  • Employers must allow workers to take up to four hours per child each year to visit the child's school (grades Kindergarten through 12). Employers are prohibited from discharging or discriminating against an employee who must take time off from work to appear at a child's school regarding child's suspension.

44. Leave for Victims of Domestic Violence or Sexual Assault (California) (Labor Code Sections 230.1)

  • Employers are prohibited from discharging or in any way discriminating or retaliating against an employee who is a victim of domestic violence or sexual assault because that person takes time off from work for any of these reasons:
    • to seek medical attention for injuries caused by the domestic violence or sexual assault.
    • to obtain services from a domestic violence shelter, program, or rape crisis center as a result of the domestic violence or sexual assault.
    • to obtain psychological counseling related to an experience of domestic violence or sexual assault.
    • to participate in safety planning and take other actions to increase safety from future domestic violence or sexual assault, including temporary or permanent relocation.

45. Military Spousal Leave

  • Applies to all employers with 25 or more employees. To be eligible for the leave, the employee must work at least an average of 20 hours per week and have a spouse who is on active duty for any of the United States Armed Forces, National Guard or Army Reserves, in an area of military conflict. The requirement is for unpaid leave for up to ten days. The employee must provide notice to the employer, no later than two business days after receiving an "official notice" that the spouse will be on leave from deployment, that the employee intends to take time off from work during the leave from deployment. Further, the employee must provide "written documentation, certifying" that the spouse will be on leave from deployment.

If you have FIFTY to ONE HUNDRED or more employees you must be concerned with:

46. Volunteer Firefighter Leave (California)

  • Employers must permit volunteer firefighters to take up to 14 days of unpaid leave per calendar year for the purpose of engaging in fire or law enforcement training.

47. Workers Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act of 1988 (WARN)

  • Applies to employers with 100 or more workers at a single facility.
  • Requires 60 days' notice to employees of plant closing or mass layoffs (employment loss of 50 or more people, excluding part-time workers).
  • Requires notification of public officials in surrounding community.

48. California WARN Act of 2002

  • Applies to employers with 75 or more workers at a single facility.
  • Requires 60 days' notice to employees of plant closing or mass layoffs and imposes parent company damages for failure to give notice.
  • Excludes federal WARN defense for employers who delay layoff notice while attempting to obtain the financing intended to avoid the layoff.

49. The Family Rights Act of 1991 (California)

  • Allows employees with more than one year service to be eligible for up to 12 weeks unpaid leave in a 12-month period after childbirth or adoption, to care for a seriously ill child, spouse or parent or in case of an employee's own serious illness.
  • Requires continuation of benefit availability to employees on leave status, but employer is not required to pay for benefits.
  • Guarantees return to work at same or similar job at same pay.
  • Prohibits discrimination against anyone availing themselves of benefits under this law
  • Enforced by Department of Fair Employment and Housing.

50. Family and Medical Leave Act (Federal) (With regulatory updates effective January 16, 2009 from the U.S. Department of Labor)

  • Allows employees with more than one year service to be eligible for up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave after childbirth or adoption, to care for a seriously ill child, spouse or parent or in case of an employee's own serious illness.
  • Requires employers continue to pay for benefit coverage for employees on leave.
  • Guarantees return to work for same or similar job at same pay.
  • Provides for "Military Caregiver Leave," up to 26 weeks unpaid leave of absence for employees with family members needing care due to a military-duty-related injury or illness. 26-week limit will renew every twelve months.
  • Provides for "National Guard and Military Reserve Family Leave." Employees who are family members of National Guard or Military Reservists who are called to active duty may take FMLA leave to assist with preparing financial and legal arrangements, and other family issues associated with rapid deployment or post-deployment activities. An employer may agree to any non-listed condition as a qualifier for FMLA leave as well.
  • Provides for "Light Duty Assignments." Clarifies that "light duty" work does not count against an employee's FMLA leave entitlement. Also provides that an employee's right to job restoration is held in abeyance during the light duty period. An employee voluntarily doing light duty work is not on FMLA leave.
  • Provides for "Employer Notices." Consolidates all employer notice requirements into one section of the regulations to clear up some conflicting provisions and time periods.
  • Provides for "Medical Certification Process." New DOL regulations have added a requirement that limits who may contact the employee's health care provider and bans an employee's direct supervisor from making the contact.
  • Definitions of terminology have been made more specific.
  • Prohibits discrimination against anyone availing themselves of benefits under this law.
  • Enforced by EEOC.

51. AB 1825 Sexual Harassment Prevention Training

  • Applies to California employers with 50 or more employees.
  • Requires a minimum of 2 hours of training and education to all supervisory employees at least once every two years.
  • Training must be "interactive" but can be done on the Internet, in a classroom or by any other delivery method as long as the participants are able to interact with the process.
  • Became effective January 1, 2006.

52. Executive Order 11246 - Affirmative Action

  • Requires a written Affirmative Action Plan for minorities and women by contractors with $50,000 or more in contract value and 50 or more employees, all federal funds depositories and all paying agents for U.S. Savings Bonds.
  • Requires goals and timetables for elimination of underutilization of minorities and females in any job group NOTE: Any federal contractor which has contracts or subcontracts valued at $10,000 or more, or bills of lading of $10,000 or more in 12 months, must have a written affirmative action plan for disabled and a written affirmative action plan for veterans. Call The Management Advantage, Inc. for more information or if you are unsure if you must meet these requirements. Our office number is 925-671-0404. We are available from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Pacific Time. You may leave a voice mail message at any time.

53. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Regulations (EEOC)

  • Requires employers of 100 or more workers to file a Standard Form 100 report (EEO-1, EEO-4, EEO-6, etc.) annually or bi-annually, showing sex and ethnic breakdown of workforce statistics within EEO job categories. Detailed reports of distribution by compensation is required of some employers in addition.

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