The New Year will bring several changes in California law that will affect the way California employers operate their day-to-day businesses.  We have summarized below six laws that will go into effect on January 1, 2013, which we believe will impact the majority of our clients.  Please do not hesitate to contact one of our employment lawyers should you need further guidance on any of these changes.

  1. Commission Agreements.  Pursuant to AB 1396 and Labor Code section 2751, employers who pay commission wages are required by January 1, 2013 to put commission agreements into a writing signed by the employee which sets forth the method by which the commissions will be computed and paid.  The employer must also provide a copy of the commission agreement to the employee.  Pursuant to a recent amendment, the following are excluded from the definition of “commissions”: (1) short-term productivity bonuses (such as those paid to retail clerks), (2) bonus and profit-sharing plans, unless there is an offer by the employer to pay a fixed percentage of sales or profits as compensation for work to be performed, and (3) temporary, variable incentive payments that increase, but do not decrease, payment under the written contract.
  2. Social Media.  AB 1844 prohibits employers from requiring or even requesting employees or job applicants to provide user names and passwords for social medial accounts, and from requesting an employee or applicant to divulge personal social media.  There are limited exceptions, including an exception relating to employer investigations.
  3. Inspection of Personnel Records.  AB 2674 amends Labor Code section 1198.5, relating to inspection and retention of personnel records.  The new law makes several changes.  Most significantly, current and former employees, and their representatives, will have a right to inspect and receive a copy of their personnel files (current law provides that employees and former employees are only entitled to a copy of documents which they signed).  Upon written request from the employee, the employer must provide a copy of the records at a charge not to exceed the actual cost of reproduction, and a former employee may request a copy of his or her records by mail if s/he reimburses the employer for actual postal expenses.  Employers must make the contents of the employee’s personnel records available, whether by inspection or copying, to a current or former employee (or representative) at reasonable intervals and at reasonable times, but no later than 30 calendar days from the date the employer receives a written request.  Employers are required to comply with only one request per year by a former employee, and must maintain a copy of each employee’s personnel records for a period of not less than three years after termination.  If  an employee or former employee files a lawsuit that relates to a personnel matter, that employee’s right to inspect or copy personnel records ceases during the pendency of the lawsuit.
  4. Breastfeeding.  AB 2386 amends the definition of “sex” under California’s discrimination law to include breastfeeding and related medical conditions.  There is a mandatory update to the Discrimination and Harassment Notice reflecting this change.
  5. Religious Expression.  AB 1964 clarifies that California’s discrimination protections and reasonable accommodation requirements cover religious dress practices and religious grooming practices.  It also specifies that segregating an employee from other employees or the public is not a reasonable accommodation of religious beliefs or observances.
  6. Fixed Salaries and Overtime.  AB 2103 amends Labor Code Section 515 to state that payment of a fixed salary to a non-exempt employee will be deemed to be payment only for the employee’s regular non-overtime hours, notwithstanding any private agreement to the contrary.

– Keesal, Young & Logan Employment Group

This information has been prepared by Keesal, Young & Logan for informational purposes only and is not legal advice. Transmission of the information is not intended to create, and receipt does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship between you and Keesal, Young & Logan. You should not act upon this information without seeking professional counsel.