The following changes to California employment laws will take effect on January 1, 2020:

Minimum Wages
California’s minimum wage for employers with 26 or more employees will increase to $13.00 per hour. The minimum wage for employers with 25 or fewer employees will increase to $12.00 per hour.

The following municipal minimum wage increases will also take effect:

Belmont: $15.00
Cupertino: $15.35
Daly City: $13.75
El Cerrito: $15.37
Los Altos: $15.40
Menlo Park: $15.00
Mountain View: $16.05
Oakland: $14.14
Palo Alto: $15.40
Petaluma: $15.00 (26 or more employees); $14.00 (25 or fewer)
Redwood City: $15.38
San Diego: $13.00
San Jose: $15.25
San Mateo: $15.38
Santa Clara: $15.40
Sonoma: $13.50 (26 or more employees); $12.50 (25 or fewer)
South San Francisco: $15.00
Sunnyvale: $16.05

Exempt Employee Minimum Salary
California requires that most exempt white collar employees make double the state minimum wage on a monthly basis. For the 2020 calendar year, the minimum salary for exempt employees of employers with 26 or more employees will be $54,080 per year. For employers with 25 or fewer employees, it will be $49,920 per year. Municipal minimum wages do not affect these minimums – the calculation is always based on the state rate. 

The minimum salary for exempt computer professionals will be $96,968.33 per year or $46.55 per hour if paid on an hourly basis. The minimum hourly rate for licensed physicians and surgeons, if paid on an hourly basis, will be $84.79.

Additional Time for Organ Donation
Previously, California required that employers of 15 or more employees provide up to 30 business days of paid leave for organ donation. The law now requires that those employees be provided with an additional 30 business days of unpaid time off to donate an organ, for a total of 60 days of protected leave in a 12-month period.

Lactation Accommodations Expanded
Time and a private non-bathroom space for employees to express milk were already required by state and federal law, but the new state law explicitly requires that the lactation room meet the following requirements:

  • Be safe, clean, and free of hazards
  • Have a place to sit and a surface to place a breast pump and personal items
  • Have access to electricity or charging devices suitable for an electric or battery-powered breast pump

The employer must also provide access to a sink with running water and suitable refrigeration close to the employee’s workspace. If a multipurpose room is the designated lactation space, use for lactation must be prioritized over all other uses, when needed for lactation.

Employers are required to make a policy and include it in the employee handbook or other set of policies that are distributed to employees. The policy should include the following:

  1. A statement about an employee’s right to request lactation accommodation;
  2. The process by which an employee should make the request;
  3. The employer’s obligation to respond to the request, either by providing the time and space or responding in writing that they cannot; and
  4. A statement about an employee’s right to file a complaint with the Labor Commissioner for violation of a right created by the law.

As with most laws that extend rights to employees, any adverse employment action or retaliation because an employee asked for, used, or complained about their rights (or denial of rights) is prohibited.

Employers with fewer than 50 employees may be exempt from a provision of this law if it would cause an undue hardship (significant difficulty or expense) but will be expected to make reasonable efforts to comply with as much of the law as possible.

Natural Hairstyles
Under both federal law and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, it’s unlawful for an employer to discriminate based on certain protected characteristics, including race. California now defines race, for employment purposes, to include traits historically associated with race, including hair texture and protective hairstyles such as braids, locks, and twists.

Employers who have appearance policies that prohibit natural hairstyles should revise those policies. Managers and those involved in hiring should be trained not to make judgments about professionalism or culture fit based on these hairstyles and to consider their own unconscious bias.

ABC Test
As we reported on several months ago, the ABC Test will become statute at the beginning of the year. Contact us for more information