Fall is in the air, and that means we have reached the end of another legislative cycle for the year in Sacramento, but you wouldn’t know it considering there were still almost 800 pieces of legislation awaiting their fate on September 30th. For those of us in the restaurant industry, there are four pieces of legislation that we will want to pay extra close attention to.

1. New Parental Leave Act – SB 654

If your business has 20 or more employees, this law would have allowed for six weeks of leave for any new parent with a newborn child, adopted child and/or foster child. Eligible employees must have worked 12 months and at least 1,250 hours within those 12 months. This is not a popular bill amongst small business owners, who believe it would end up costing full-time jobs. Lucky for them, this bill was vetoed, but it still remains an unpredictable issue that we will likely see again.

2. Wage Differential: Race or Ethnicity – SB 1063

This is an amendment to an existing labor law that prohibits an employer from paying any of its employees a wage rate less than the rates paid to employees of the opposite sex for similar work. The amendment would also prohibit an employer from paying different rates to workers of different races for similar work. This bill has passed, unfortunately, that means more litigation opportunities in an already saturated California, which we undoubtedly do not need. Operators will need to ensure that all job descriptions are clearly outlined and defined in their employee handbooks. In addition, clear pay rates and ranges should be set for each department.

3. Applicants for Employment: Criminal History – AB 1843

Known as ban the box on the application bill, it states no employer, whether a public agency or private individual or corporation, shall ask an applicant for employment to disclose, through any written form or verbally, information concerning any juvenile court records which include murder, rape, and other dangerous crimes. This bill was approved and removes our ability to make safe hiring choices, and sets the stage for an unsafe working environment. Companies will need to make sure their paper and online applications are updated to reflect these changes. Hiring managers will also need to be trained on what questions they can and cannot ask during the interview process.

4. Employment Safety: Indoor Workers: Heat Regulations – SB 1167

In what is perhaps the most bizarre piece of legislature this year, this bill attempts to regulate workplace temperature by the year 2019. The bill will work in conjunction with OSHA to establish a heat illness and injury prevention program for the workplace, call it a HIIPP if you will. This bill has passed and really doesn’t make sense since OSHA already had the authority to do this. Giving them additional mandates will only make this law more difficult to comply with. This one is still a few years out but will have a big impact on our back of house employees.

We will continue to update you on these and many other issues affecting our industry in the coming year. Please feel free to contact us if we can be of any assistance.