HR Management & Compliance

California Employers Get More Time to Comply With New Harassment Training Law

California employers will have more time to get newly mandated sexual harassment training programs going, now that Governor Gavin Newsom has signed a bill delaying the requirements.

A previous law set a deadline of January 1, 2020, for employers with at least five employees to provide sexual harassment prevention training. That deadline now has been moved to January 1, 2021.

The law requires at least two hours of classroom or other interactive training for supervisory employees and at least one hour of such training for nonsupervisory employees.

Under the new bill, signed into law on August 30 and taking effect immediately, employers newly required to provide the training will have to provide it by January 1, 2021, and thereafter once every two years, according to the digest of the bill’s text. It requires new nonsupervisory employees to be provided the training within six months of hire and new supervisory employees to be provided it within six months of the assumption of a supervisory position. Employers that have provided the training in 2019 aren’t required to provide it again for two years.

‘Take Advantage of Reprieve’

Mark I. Schickman, an attorney with Freeland Cooper & Foreman LLP in San Francisco, says employers “should take advantage of this one-year reprieve” and get prepared to offer the required training. Also, employers will need to decide if they want to create a single qualifying training module for all employees and supervisors or create two training modules—one for supervisors and the other for employees.

Cathleen Yonahara, another attorney with Freeland Cooper & Foreman LLP, points out the new law extends the deadline for employers to train their regular employees, but it doesn’t extend the deadline for seasonal, temporary, or other employees hired to work for less than six months.

For those employees, the law effective January 1, 2020, still requires they be trained within 30 calendar days after the hire date or within 100 hours worked, whichever occurs first. In the case of temporary employees employed by a temporary services employer, the training must be provided by the temporary services employer.

“Given the January 1, 2020, deadline for training seasonal, temporary, and short-term employees, as well as migrant and seasonal agricultural workers, employers should act now to prepare the harassment prevention training that will be offered to those employees,” Yonahara says. She adds that employers should consider offering the training to their regular employees now, rather than waiting for the new deadline, to show they are taking all reasonable steps to prevent harassment.

Learn more about the new laws surrounding sexual harassment training when you attend: HR Comply California, in Los Angeles, CA on October 7-9, 2019. Join Kelly O. Scott, Esq., of Ervin Cohen & Jessup LLP for the session: New Challenges in Defending Sexual Harassment Claims: How to Avoid Hostile Work Environment Claims under FEHA and Foster a Culture of Respect to Minimize Risk. Click here to learn more, or to register today!

Schickman and Yonahara are coeditors of California Employment Law Letter.

Tammy Binford writes and edits news alerts and newsletter articles on labor and employment law topics for BLR web and print publications.