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Don Welker's Financial Minute

Jul 17, 2018, 9:00 AM


Laws and regulations that affect Human Resources are constantly changing, and it’s vitally important that your HR Department keeps up. For example, here in California a number of laws went into effect in 2018. Did you know…

• You cannot ask job applicants about their criminal history – If you have five or more employees it is now against the law to ask job applicants about their criminal records, or seek this information, until after a conditional job offer has been made. After that, if you want to rescind the offer because of the applicant’s conviction history, a specific procedure must be followed.

• You cannot ask job applicants about their salary history – This question is always forbidden, even after you make a conditional job offer. However, if, without any prompting, the applicant volunteers this information, you can use it when setting their starting salary.

• The anti-discrimination laws have been expanded – Effective July 1, California’s rules prohibiting harassment and discrimination based on protected classes, including national origin, have been expanded. Specifically, “national origin” is now very broadly defined to include various actual or perceived characteristics. Click here to learn more. As part of this, “English-only” policies are now forbidden unless narrowly tailored and justified by business necessity—and are never permitted during non-work time, such as breaks.

• You must answer job applicants’ questions about pay scale – Upon “reasonable request” you must provide an applicant for a specific position the pay scale for that position.

• Family Leave Law now affects small businesses – If you have 20 or more employees, you must now allow eligible employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected parental leave to bond with a new child. On the positive side, if you offer at least two weeks of annual paid family and medical leave to all qualifying employees, you may be eligible for a new tax credit. Click here to learn more.

• The new tax bill affects employee benefits – The deductions for employee entertainment and transportation benefits were eliminated, and the deduction for employee meals was reduced. Also, any money you provide employees to reimburse them for the costs of commuting to work by bicycle is now considered taxable income to the employee. Are you noting this on their payroll stub?

If you have not yet modified your policies, job application forms and Employee Handbooks to account for these changes, now’s the time to do so!

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