Each year, California legislators create thousands of new bills, a percentage of them which eventually become law.  Employers should be aware of the following employment laws, which came into effect on January 1, 2013.  This is the first of a two-part post.

Wage Statement Violations (Labor Code § 226) – Employers must now provide itemized wage statements with specified categories of information.  An employee now will be considered to have “suffered injury” if his/her employer does not provide a wage statement, which entitles the employee to damages.  In addition, Labor Code § 226 now requires “temporary services employers” to provide wage statements that contain the rate of pay and total hours worked for temporary assignments.

Pre-determined Overtime Compensation Prohibited (Labor Code 510) – In response to a 2011 case, Arechiga v. Delores Pres, Inc., the Legislature amended this code section to prohibit pre-determined overtime compensation included as part of a non-exempt employee’s normal salary.

New Wage Garnishment Floor (Code of Civil Procedure § 706.011, § 706.050) – These sections are amended, establishing a higher “garnishment floor” (wages that are exempt from garnishment).

Exemption from Written Commission Requirements (Labor Code § 2751 and § 2752) – In 2011, the Legislature enacted a requirement that all employers provide written contracts containing specified information to commission-based employees.  These sections have now been amended to exclude short-term productivity bonuses and profit sharing plans from this requirement.

Social Media Privacy (Labor Code § 980) – Employers are prohibited from requiring or requesting employee usernames and passwords to social media accounts.

Religious Accommodation Under FEHA (Fair Employment and Housing Act) – As mentioned in an earlier blog post, FEHA is amended to include prohibitions against discrimination for “religious dress and grooming practices.”

Breastfeeding Protections Under FEHA – FEHA now prohibits discrimination against “breastfeeding and related medical conditions.”

Employee Personnel Inspections (Labor Code § 1198.5) – Employers must now permit both current and former employees, and their representatives, to inspect employment records within 30 days of any request.

False Claims Act (Government Code § 12650-12656) – California’s False Claims Act is amended to conform to the Federal False Claims Act.  Specifically, statutory penalties are increased, and whistleblower protections now extend to contractors and agents.

EDD Sharing of Information with Joint Enforcement Strike Force (Unemployment Insurance Code § 1088.5) – The Employment Development Department is now authorized to provide certain new employee information to the Joint Employment Strike Force, a strangely-named coalition of government agencies tasked with combating the underground economy.

DIR to List Prevailing Wage Laws – The Department of Industrial Relations will now post on its website a list of every relevant code section that relates to prevailing wage requirements for workers on public projects.

We'll have the second half of these changes in our next installment.