CalChamber Steers Helpful Bills into Law, Stops Costly Mandates, Secures Changes

Oct 29, 2015

The 2015 legislative year was very active in the labor and employment policy arena. Overall, the California Chamber of Commerce was very successful with bills that we supported, bills that we negotiated amendments to avoid opposing, as well as bills that we strongly opposed.

Below is a summary of what happened on some of the most significant bills.

Reducing Litigation

Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. signed two CalChamber supported bills this year that will reduce employment litigation:

 AB 1506 (R. Hernández; D-West Covina), designated as a job creator, provides employers with a 33-day right to cure technical violations on an itemized wage statement before civil litigation under the Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) can be pursued. AB 1506 is a great step toward PAGA reform and included an urgency clause, therefore going into effect immediately upon being signed on October 2.

 SB 358 (Jackson; D- Santa Barbara) will reduce employment litigation by clarifying ambiguous terms regarding gender equity pay, making the existing standards consistent with federal and state gender discrimination laws.

SB 358 reinforces the illegality of basing compensation on gender, yet still provides employers the ability to determine appropriate wages for employees for nongender-related business reasons, such as training, experience, education, and geographic location.

Wage and Hour Mandates

Several bills introduced this year would have significantly increased the cost of doing business in California for employers:

 SB 3 (Leno; D-San Francisco) proposed to increase the minimum wage to $13 an hour by 2017 and then automatically adjust it according to inflation thereafter. CalChamber identified SB 3 as a job killer, and it was held in the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

 AB 67 (Gonzalez; D-San Diego) proposed to mandate double pay for almost all employees who worked on Thanksgiving. Although the author used retail establishments that open on the evening of Thanksgiving as the need for the bill, it would have had an impact on a much broader group of employers, including hotels and lodging, which cannot realistically close on holidays. AB 67 failed passage in an Assembly Floor vote.

 AB 357 (Chiu; D-San Francisco) would have mandated large employers to provide employees with 14 days notice of their schedule, and then imposed statutory penalties for changes made to the schedule thereafter. This mandate removed an employer’s flexibility to accommodate employee last-minute requests for changes or time off, without the threat of financial penalties or litigation. AB 357 was identified as a job killer. Given the lack of support for this measure, AB 357 was moved to the inactive file on the Assembly floor and therefore never taken up for a vote.

 AB 970 (Nazarian; D-Sherman Oaks) expanded the Labor Commissioner’s authority to enforce local minimum wage ordinances. CalChamber opposed the bill based on concerns it would incentivize local jurisdictions to adopt minimum wage ordinances and also increase annual assessments on all employers to fund the Labor Commissioner’s expanded authority. AB 970 was signed by the Governor.

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