As 2018 unfolds, employers should consider revising and updating their Employee Handbooks in light of recent legislative actions and judicial decisions. Employers should generally review and update Employee Handbooks on a yearly basis, but changes will be necessary for many employers in 2018 in order to comply with applicable law and enjoy as much protection as possible against employee claims. 

Some of the policies that deserve specific attention as the new year begins include the following:

  • Parental leave – California’s New Parent Leave Act expands parental leave rights by requiring employers with 20 to 49 employees to provide up to 12 weeks of unpaid parental leave to eligible employees for the purpose of bonding with a new child. Employers subject to the new law should revise their Employee Handbooks to include a thorough policy that outlines employee rights and obligations with respect to New Parent Leave. 

  • Anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policies – California law now requires employers to include certain specific provisions in their anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policies, and the Department of Fair Employment and Housing has issued additional guidance regarding the investigation of complaints. Needless to say, the recent explosion of harassment claims makes it all the more important for employers to assure that their policies are “state of the art” and fully compliant with current law. 

  • Background checks – Government Code Section 12952, the so-called “Ban the Box” law, now restricts employers in their ability to obtain information regarding an applicant’s criminal record history. Many employers include policies regarding background checks or criminal records checks in their Employee Handbooks, so they should review their policies to assure that they do not violate the “Ban the Box” law. 

  • Rest breaks – As a result of a decision from the California Supreme Court, employers must now relieve non-exempt employees of all duties during paid rest breaks, and must permit them to leave company premises if they elect to do so. Many rest break policies state that employees must remain on the employer’s premises during their break and do not confirm that employees are relieved of all duties during their breaks. 

Our attorneys regularly assist clients in creating and updating Employee Handbooks and are familiar with the changes that should be made to bring employers into compliance and to preserve the strongest protection possible against employee claims. The policies mentioned above are just some of the policies that should be reviewed carefully (and, in most cases, revised) as the New Year starts. 

If we can assist in updating your Employee Handbook for 2018, or if you have questions about any new or changed laws, please contact one of our attorneys.