California Labor Law: Human Resources

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Every state, of course, has different labor laws. This can prove tricky if an organization has a partially remote or fully remote workforce that's sprinkled throughout the country. If a company or some of its staff are based in California, employers should familiarize themselves with the state’s human resource laws. It’s also helpful for employers to be aware of the many labor laws in the state, since they often vary greatly from those of other states. California’s labor laws are often more liberal and provide rights more favorable to employees.

Labor Laws in California

All human resources departments must be knowledgeable about employment policies, as well as topics like company policies, hiring procedure and termination policies. However, it’s particularly difficult to be on a human resources team in California. In fact, the HR Certification Institute offers a separate certificate called the PHRca, just for human resources professionals in California.

These laws make for a great work environment for California employees, who enjoy many more rights than they might receive in some other states. However, they can be a headache for employers.

California Overtime Rules

Overtime rules in California, for instance, are different from other states. In California, overtime is calculated on a daily, rather than a weekly, basis. This means that if you work more than eight hours in a day, you qualify for overtime pay, even if you don’t end up working longer than 40 hours in that week.

This law even extends to employees who aren’t based in California, but who work occasionally in California (for instance, remote employees who occasionally visit their California-based office to work). If these employees work overtime during the day(s) that they’re in the California office, they must be paid overtime.

Read More: What is California's Law on Overtime Hours

Paid Leave and Time Off in California

Paid leave benefits are also different in California. Employees are eligible for up to six weeks of paid leave with between 60 percent to 70 percent of their pay (cities like San Francisco require 100 percent of wages to be paid).

In addition to paid leave, employers are not allowed to make employees work more than six days in a row. The law states that they need to have one day of rest before they hit seven days. However, this rule does not extend to those who work less than 30 hours in a week.

Background Check Laws in California

When hiring an employee, the human resources department is not permitted to ask the applicant about criminal, credit or salary histories. They also must adhere to strict screening laws. It’s difficult to fire an employee in California, because the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) law requires 60 days’ notice before closing an organization or having a mass layoff (more than 50 people). Additionally, in California, it’s illegal to have employees sign non-compete documents.

California Department of Labor Laws on Payment

As far as payment goes, California requires all employers to pay employees what they’re owed in total and on time. In fact, the law requires that employers must pay their employees a minimum of twice a month.

If a company is withholding payment, California’s government will determine if it’s for a viable reason (e.g., for something outside of the company’s control). If they determine the company is at fault, though, then the company will have to pay $100 for a first offense and $200 for every additional offense.

Having an HR Department

While it’s legally acceptable to not have an HR department, it’s a risky move since California’s human resource laws are so strict. Breaking these laws is often accompanied by a hefty fine as well. Having a human resources department in place and familiar with the California labor law handbook helps ensure that the company remains up to date on all California labor law practices.