HR Management & Compliance

Legislative Notebook: New Employment Laws On The Horizon

Gov. Davis has acted on a number of employment-related bills passed by state lawmakers.

Roundup Of New Laws

These new measures will take effect Jan. 1, 2002, unless otherwise specified:

  • Unemployment compensation. S.B. 40 will significantly increase unemployment benefits for California workers. Maximum weekly benefits will rise from the current $230 to $330 in 2002, $370 in 2003, $410 in 2004 and $450 in 2005.


  • Child care assistance. A.B. 866 extends two employer child care assistance tax credits, effective immediately, for tax years beginning before 2007. First, an employer may receive a credit of 30% of the cost of establishing or constructing an employee child care program or facility, up to $50,000. Second, an employer may take a tax credit of 30% of contributions to qualified child care on behalf of employees, up to $360 per child each year.


  • Child support withholding. If an employer willfully fails to comply with an earnings assignment order for an employee’s child support, A.B. 1426 authorizes a court order for an electronic transfer of funds from the employer’s bank account. An employer that doesn’t comply with an earnings assignment order three times in a 12-month period is subject to a penalty of up to 50% of the delinquent amount.


  • Health care. S.B. 446 requires health care plans to provide coverage for FDA-approved AIDS vaccines that the U.S. Public Health Service recommends but not for clinical trials of vaccines.


  • Background checks. Under A.B. 1643, agencies that provide temporary licensed or certified nursing staff to long-term health care facilities must ensure that all staff meet requirements for licensing, experience and health; have a criminal background clearance; and have no unresolved allegations of patient abuse. A.B. 351 requires local governments to screen employment applicants and volunteers who supervise children at parks and other recreational facilities to ensure they have no convictions for sexual or violent crimes.


  • Motor carriers. Under A.B. 1262, every bus company or other motor carrier that regularly employs more than 20 full-time drivers must report to the California Highway Patrol whenever it replaces more than 50% of its drivers within a 30-day period. The CHP will then inspect the carrier within 21 days to ensure that it meets all safety requirements, including controlled-substance testing and hours-of-service rules.


  • Workplace privacy. S.B. 168 prohibits businesses from printing Social Security numbers on ID cards and mailed documents or requiring individuals to use their Social Security number to access an Internet website.


  • Workers’ compensation. A.B. 196 expands the scope of injuries that are presumed to be work-related for safety employees, firefighters and law enforcement personnel by including bloodborne infectious diseases such as AIDS. A.B. 1194 permits physician assistants and nurse practitioners to sign first reports of on-the-job injuries and authorize an injured worker to be off work for three days. However, a physician must determine whether the worker qualifies for temporary disability benefits.

Join us this fall in San Francisco for the California Employment Law Update conference, a 3-day event that will teach you everything you need to know about new laws and regulations, and your compliance obligations, for the year ahead—it’s one-stop shopping at its best.

Vetoed Bills

Gov. Davis vetoed these measures:

  • Workers’ comp benefits. S.B. 71 and A.B. 1176 would have raised workers’ compensation benefits for injured workers. The governor has said that he will work with the Legislature before the start of the 2002 legislative session to draft a compromise bill that increases benefits and addresses other workers’ comp reform issues.


  • Electronic monitoring. For the third year, Gov. Davis vetoed a bill that would have prohibited secret employer monitoring of employee e-mail or other computer records. Under S.B. 147, to conduct monitoring, employers would have had to issue a written workplace privacy and electronic monitoring policy and get all affected employees to sign an acknowledgment that they received it. The governor said employees should already know that their e-mail may be monitored.


  • Harassment investigations. S.B. 208 would have authorized certified human resources management professionals to conduct workplace harassment investigations without having to meet state licensing and regulation requirements for private investigators.


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