Your Legal Rights

From the Law Office of Beeson, Tayer & Bodine

2013 California Legislative Round-Up

Governor Brown recently approved many new laws that affect workers’ rights beginning in 2014. We summarize some of the new state laws below. For a detailed summary of these and other new laws, please refer to our expanded article at our website: http://www.beesontayer. com/2013/11/2013-california-legislativeround- up/

Wages and Hours

Increased Minimum Wage (AB 10)

California’s minimum wage will increase from $8.00 to $9.00 per hour beginning July 1, 2014, and again to $10.00 on January 1, 2016. Under AB-10, California remains a leader in setting minimum wage standards; only Washington State, which has an inflationadjusted minimum wage scale, is currently higher.

Enforcement of Employee’s Right to “Recovery” or “Cool Down” Periods (SB 435)

Employers are required to provide a shaded area, and to allow employees to take at least a five minute break, as needed, for employees who work outside in temperatures exceeding 85 degrees. Labor Code section 226.7 provides that employees denied a meal period or rest break are entitled to an additional hour of pay. This provision has now been expanded to include employees who have been denied a “recovery” or “cool down” period in order to prevent heat stress or illness.

Public Sector Employees

Expansion of Union Representative’s Right to Paid Time (AB 1181)

Existing law under the Meyers-Milias- Brown Act requires employers to pay their employees who serve as union bargaining representatives for time spent formally meeting and conferring with the employer during working hours. This new law extends the right to paid time for union representatives who serve as the Union’s designated representative at conferences, hearings or other proceedings before PERB or at hearings before personnel or merit commissions.

Prohibition on Public Employer Access to Employees’ Social Media Accounts (AB 25)

Last year, the legislature passed AB 1844 prohibiting employers from requiring or requesting their current employees or applicants to disclose usernames and/or passwords used for accessing personal social media, requiring a user to access personal social media in the employer’s presence (also called “shoulder surfing”), or divulging any personal social media content. This bill expands these protections to all public sector employees.

Employment Discrimination and Leave

Expanded Definition of “Family” for Paid Family Leave (SB 770)

State law currently extends SDI benefits for up to six weeks for employees who take FMLA (or the California version of FMLA) for baby bonding or to care for a family member (spouse, domestic partner, child or parent) with a serious health condition. This new law now allows workers who are given time off to care for seriously ill siblings, grandparents, grandchildren, and/or parents-in-law to receive the same SDI benefits. The new law does not, however, create a right to take leave for this purpose.