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California Enacts New Law Expanding Parental Leave to Small Employers

California Governor Jerry Brown has signed a new law that extends twelve weeks of unpaid parental leave to California employees who work for small businesses, including retailers.  The New Parent Leave Act applies generally to California employers with at least 20 and no more than 49 employees.  The practical effect of the Act is to expand the parental leave required under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) to smaller employers.  The new law takes effect on January 1, 2018.

Under the New Parent Leave Act, an employee may take up to twelve weeks of unpaid parental leave within one year of a child’s birth, adoption, or foster care placement, so long as the employee (1) works at a location where the employer has at least 20 employees within a 75 mile radius, (2) has at least twelve months of service with the employer, and (3) has worked at least 1,250 hours during the previous twelve months.  The new law requires the employer to maintain the employee’s health care coverage, but the employer can recover the premium paid if the employee fails to return from leave due to a reason other than a serious health condition or “other circumstances beyond the control of the employee.”

The law also creates a “parental leave mediation pilot program” that will last through January 1, 2020.  Under the “pilot” mediation program, if an employer requests mediation within 60 days of receiving a right to sue notice,

New Colorado Laws Grant Employees Access to Personnel Files, Right to Pregnancy Accommodations

The Colorado General Assembly ended the 2016 session by passing significant employment legislation. In June 2016, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper signed into law House Bill 16-1432, granting employees access to personnel files upon request, and House Bill 16-1438 expanding protections for pregnant employees. All Colorado employers should familiarize themselves with these new laws and update related policies before they take effect.

PERSONNEL FILES

House Bill 16-1432 grants current and former employees the right to access their personnel files upon request. When the Act takes effect, likely on January 1, 2017, the provisions will be found at C.R.S. § 8-2-129.

Summary

This new law provides current and former employees access to their personnel files and allows current employees to obtain a copy of their personnel files.

Defining “Personnel Files”

The Act defines personnel files as “the personnel records of an employee, in the manner maintained by the employer and using reasonable efforts by the employer to collect, that are used or have been used to determine the employee’s qualifications for employment, promotion, additional compensation, or employment termination or other disciplinary action.”  H.B. 16-1432, § 2.

The Act excludes the following documents from the definition of personnel files:

  • Documents required by state or federal law to be kept in separate files;
  • Confidential reports from previous employers;
  • Documents relating to active criminal or regulatory investigations;
  • Documents relating to active disciplinary investigations by the employer; and
  • Documents or records that identify an individual who made a confidential accusation about the employee requesting access to the files.

The New FLSA Regulations: Impact Will Be More Than Just Higher Salaries for Exempt Employees

As has been widely publicized in the press, on May 18, 2016, the U.S. Department of Labor (“DOL”) released the final rule updating the regulations regarding the white collar exemptions from overtime compensation under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”). These regulations apply to workers who fall under the executive, administrative, or professional exemptions from the FLSA’s minimum wage and overtime protections as well as to the highly compensated employee.  The new regulations will likely be challenged, but, barring a court injunction or other action, they will go into effect on December 1, 2016. While the DOL did not alter the duties test for the overtime exemptions, the impact on employers will be much more profound than just higher salary levels.

THE NEW REGULATIONS

Under the new regulations:

  • The salary threshold increases from $455 per week (i.e., $23,660 per year) to $913 per week (i.e., $47,476 per year).
  • The total annual compensation requirement for highly compensated employees increases from $100,000 to $134,004 (the employer must pay the salary threshold ($913/week) each week exclusive of any nondiscretionary bonuses or incentive payments).
  • These amounts will automatically update every three years, with the first update effective January 1, 2020.
  • Nondiscretionary bonuses and incentive payments, including commissions, may satisfy up to 10 percent of the salary basis requirement (but there are specific requirements that must be met, such as payments must be made on a quarterly or more frequent basis).
  • Small businesses, nonprofit organizations, and higher education institutions must comply with the new requirements
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