As advocates for the business community, our work will never be finished in California. Just when you think that there cannot possibly be any more laws to create, legislators dream up something new.
As the New Year rolls around, employers are reading up on changes to labor law and how they can comply. Get comfortable: you’ll be reading for a while. You don’t need me to tell you how important it is to comply with every little new rule, no matter how obscure or how little it will actually affect your employees.
In a recent conversation with business owners from out of state, I explained how California’s Private Attorneys General Act, or PAGA, works. They were stunned – what other state allows trial lawyers to bring private suits for tiny wage and hour violations, exponentially multiplies the fine for every employee, and then awards the money to a state agency rather than the employees affected? No wonder employers are settling these drive-by lawsuits for millions rather than risk their whole business to benefit government coffers.
But I digress. My point is that as employers, you absolutely must make sure you comply with every new labor law and regulation, or risk draconian penalties.
There’s another step that business owners in the San Fernando Valley need to take. We need to come together as a strong, unified voice to fight the laws which legislators in Sacramento will try to pass this year. If we don’t fight these laws and defeat them, I can already anticipate my column in the Business Journal for January 2019.
I’ll be telling you about restrictive scheduling laws, which will mean that employers have to provide schedules for each employee weeks in advance. Since you’re probably preparing weekly or fortnightly schedules, you’ll need to anticipate your employment needs a month out. Did your customer cancel an order with a couple of weeks’ notice? Too bad – you still have to pay the employees you had scheduled. Did someone call in sick for five days and you need to pull in a replacement? You have to pay that replacement extra – plus, of course, pay the sick employee under Los Angeles’ paid sick day requirements.
I’ll be telling you about a new law that forbids you from hiring new part-time employees until you’ve gone to each of your existing part-time employees and asked them if they’d like extra hours. No matter if they can’t work the new hours that you need, or the new hours are at another location, or if you really need more people to provide flexibility in your scheduling. Also, no matter if you can’t afford to pay the benefits that go along with full-time employment. Maybe you are willing to work with a student’s schedule and provide that person with a supplementary, part-time income. Assembly Bill 5 will put a stop to all that.