All businesses in California must carry workers’ compensation insurance in the event anyone who performs work for a company is injured while working. Unlike other types of insurance, workers’ compensation policy premiums are collected as an estimate during the policy term. Once the policy term ends, an auditor checks the premium amounts by conducting an audit. The audit reveals any real-time changes, such as departing workers who would reduce a company’s payroll (and thus affect the premium amounts) during the insurance policy term.
Workers’ compensation insurance, the nation’s oldest social insurance, protects employees and employers if an employee is injured while on the job. If employees get hurt or are sick because of work, an employer must pay workers’ compensation benefits, and those benefits are typically paid through insurance. Because this insurance affects nearly all California employers and employees, and it is often subject to disputes and litigation, it is important to understand what the insurance is, who must provide it, and how it works.
Under California law, which is more generous to employees than federal law, employees are entitled to specific meal and rest breaks. Indeed, California is one of the few states that require employers to give their workers both meal and rest breaks. In one of our recent landmark cases, heard by the Supreme Court of California, it was affirmed that “on-duty” rest breaks are in violation of California wage and hour laws (more on this precedent-setting decision here).
Meal Breaks in California
Generally speaking, joint employment, or co-employment, is the sharing of control and supervision of an employee’s activity among two or more business entities. A benefit of the increasingly popular employment practice is the ease with which joint employers are often able to hire experts in niche industries, individuals with specialist skills, and/or even replace their regular workforce. Currently, however, no single legal definition of joint employment exists and Congress is out to change that.
California’s “Day of Rest” statute continues to plague employers, but a recent case brings with it some good news. Under California Labor Code section 550-558.1, an employer is prohibited “from ‘caus[ing] his employees to work more than six days in seven” unless “the total hours of employment do not exceed 30 hours in any week.”
According to a California Supreme Court ruling that just came down the pipe, employees must average no less than one day of rest for every seven over the course of a calendar month, giving even more work-scheduling flexibility to employers.
Employers, beware: New regulations expand existing transgender protections under California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). FEHA protects individuals who identify as transgender and provides protections on the basis of both gender identity and gender expression — regardless of the person’s assigned sex at birth. California law also specifically protects an employee’s right to appear or dress consistently with his/her gender identity or gender expression.
The amendments to FEHA became effective July 1, 2017 and specifically address transitioning, dress standard, name preference, identity, and documentation as they relate to the workplace and housing.
Prior to AB 2337, a law that expands the rights of certain employees, victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking were protected if:
their employers retaliated against them,
they took time off,
they requested reimbursement for lost wages and work benefits, or
sought equitable relief from the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement as it related to their abuse, assault, or stalking.
Things are changing, however, and, with the approval of AB 2337, victims now receive more extensive protection and information.
Many are questioning whether, under the Trump Administration, the LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered) community will be given the same protections provided to it during the Obama administration. The most accurate (and surely frustrating) answer to this question is, “it depends.”
Overtime pay, or the alleged lack thereof, is an issue we regularly see pop up in the California courts. While California employers generally recognize that non-exempt employees (e.g. many hourly employees) who work overtime must receive overtime premiums on their base pay, not all are aware that these premiums may also be required on other, “supplemental” aspects of compensation to nonexempt employees. A common example? Bonuses.
Under the California Labor Code, employers are required to adhere to various wage and hour requirements for benefit of employees. Indeed, employers must provide employees with specific information concerning the wages they are paid, and failure to do so may result in legal penalties, including a potential wage and hour class action.