Key Labor Bills Advance in Both Houses

The Assembly Labor & Employment Committee heard several key labor bills this past Wednesday.  The committee heard the following measures:

AB 22 (Mendoza): This bill would prohibit an employer from using a consumer report for employment purposes unless: a) the information contained in the report is substantially job-related, meaning the position has access to money, other assets, or confidential information; and b)   The position is any of the following: i) a managerial position; ii)  a position in the state Department of Justice; iii)   That of a sworn police officer or other law enforcement position; or, iv) a position for which the information contained in the report is required to be disclosed by law or to be obtained by the employer.

AB 22 specifies that these provisions do not apply to a person or business subject to the federal Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (governing financial institutions) and implementing regulations, if the person or business is subject to compliance oversight by a state or federal regulatory agency with respect to those laws.

In opposition to the bill, a coalition of business interests testified that while an individual's credit history by itself is not predictive of potential theft, access to credit information can reveal patterns that may present an unreasonable risk to businesses resulting from an irresponsibility with regard to, or inability to, handle personal financial commitments.  The opposition further asserts that this bill prohibits employers from performing their due diligence in screening applicants, thus subjecting employers to a greater risk of inadvertently violating the law or being subject to frivolous employment litigation.

AB 22 passed the committee with a vote of 5-1.

AB 51 (Yamada): This bill would authorize employers to pay employee wages by means of payroll cards that meet certain specified conditions.

AB 51 passed the committee with a vote of 5-1.

AB 197 (Monning): This bill would increase the amount of liquidated damages that may be awarded to an employee when an employer fails to pay minimum wage to two times the wages unlawfully unpaid, plus interest.

AB 197 passed the committee with a vote of 5-1.

AB 325 (Lowenthal): This bill would authorize the employees to take four days of unpaid time off in the event of the death of certain relatives.

AB 325 passed the committee with a vote of 4-1.

AB 400 (Ma): This bill would provide that an employee who works in California for seven or more days in a calendar year is entitled to paid sick days, compensated at the same wage the employee normally earns during regular work hours.  AB 400 would specify that paid sick days accrue at the rate of no less than one hour for every 30 hours worked.  The bill would provide that paid sick days shall be carried over to the following calendar year, but an employer can limit their use, as specified.

A large coalition of business groups oppose the bill, arguing that he costs for the mandates in this bill would overwhelm businesses in California that are already struggling to survive in this economy.

AB 400 passed the committee with a vote of 5-1.

AB 469 (Swanson): This bill would make a number of changes related to "theft" of wages, employee wage claims and related provisions.

AB 469 passed the committee with a vote of 5-1.

AB 553 (Monning): This bill would require the Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board to promulgate standards dealing with certain toxic materials in a specified manner.

AB 553 passed the committee with a vote of 5-1.

AB 554 (Atkins): This bill would require local workforce investment boards (WIBs) to coordinate programs and services funded by the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 (WIA), and approved by the Division of Apprenticeship Standards (DAS), with community colleges to provide pre-apprenticeship training.

AB 554 passed the committee with a vote of 5-1.

AB 975 (Ma): This bill would establish specified regulatory requirements for professional employer organizations (PEOs).  AB 975 would provide that a person or entity shall not provide, advertise or otherwise hold itself out as providing professional employer services unless that entity or person is registered as a PEO with the Employment Development Department (EDD).  The bill would require the Director of EDD to prescribe rules establishing the method for PEOs to report quarterly wages and contributions for worksite employees and states the following: a) the rules shall recognize the PEO as the employing unit of its worksite employees for reporting purposes but may require that each worksite employee of a single client by reported under a separate and unique EDD subaccount of the PEO to reflect the experience f the worksite employees for a client; b) any EDD subaccount shall be used solely to determine experience rates for that individual subaccount on an annual basis; and, c)  any rule promulgated shall also include administrative requirements that permit a PEO to transmit the reporting and payment date required collectively as a single electronic filing with EDD.

AB 975 passed the committee with a vote of 5-0.

In the other house, the Senate Labor & Industrial Relations Committee heard two measures:

SB 459 (Corbett): This bill would make it unlawful to willfully misclassify workers as independent contractors and would establish civil penalties for such willful misclassifications.

SB 459 passed the committee with a vote of 5-2

SB 826 (Leno): This bill, sponsored by Small Business California, would require that the Administrative Director of the Division of Workers’ Compensation assess an administrative penalty against a claims administrator for failing to comply with any data reporting requirement as required by adopted regulations.

SB 826 passed the committee with a vote of 6-0.