Know The Employment Laws: Employee protections under CA and federal law.


Probably one of the most daunting tasks a small business owner in California faces when it comes time to bring on an employee is familiarizing themselves with the required benefits and protections federal and state law mandates. So here’s a jumpstart on what to know for this exciting transition (yay your business is growing!)


A few basic protections


  1. Equal pay and salary history inquiries. CA law requires that employers pay their staff equally for the same work (need a reminder on pay equity? Here you go) AND also protects (potential) employees from disclosing past salaries to employers. This helps to ensure they are fairly paid.
  2. Pregnancy accommodations. There are numerous pregnancy-related adjustments that employees are entitled to such as rest breaks, the option to sit, and working modifications (eg equipment).
  3. Whistleblower protections. California protects whistleblowers (a person who informs authorities of a company’s unlawful activity) from retaliation by the employer.


Examples of on-the-job protections


  1. Overtime. California is strict about overtime and this is an essential protection for an employer to know. There was a recent update to the law as well. California now requires that employees be paid one-and-a-half times their regular pay rate when working more than 8 hours per day, 40 hours per week, or six consecutive days in a workweek.
  2. Meal and rest breaks. Providing 30 minute meals breaks are required if an employee works more than 5 hours in a day. Meanwhile a rest break must be provided if the employee works 3½ hours or more in a day (breaks down to one 10 minute rest break per 4 hours worked).
  3. Breastfeeding accommodations. Employers are required to provide a private room for expressing milk. A toilet stall does NOT count. In addition, while they are not required to allow for nursing children to be brought to the workplace, they are required to allow for direct nursing should this occur.


Paid and unpaid leave benefits


  1. FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act). The FMLA allows for employees to take unpaid leave with job-protection. It covers up to 12 weeks per year for personal or family-related medical leave that requires the employee to take time off work in order to address.
  2. PFL (Paid Family Leave). PFL is essentially an extension of unemployment disability, it provides compensation for individuals who need to take time off work to provide caregiving to a family member or to bond with a new child.
  3. Sick leave. Under this CA law, employers are entitled to allow for 24 hours (or three days) of paid sick days per year. Employees must accrue this time and do so as follows: for every 30 hours they work they will receive one hour of paid sick leave.


As an employer one of the most important tasks you have is educating yourself on the protections employees are entitled to receive. There are more than those included on this list, and while all are equally important, we feel that these make for a good launching pad to getting in deep with the laws. If you need a team that can ensure your employees are fully protected under your company’s care, reach out to us! Eos HR offers small businesses an HR department that will help them be successful employers. Schedule a free consultation today to learn more.


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