AS WITH every New Year, businesses are faced with a slew of new laws and regulations. We’ve condensed them into a list of the top 10 most likely to affect your operations.
1. New teeth to gender equal pay laws
A new state law adds teeth to the laws on gender pay equality.
Before SB 358, employees seeking to prove pay discrimination had to demonstrate that they are not paid at the same rate as someone of the opposite sex at the same establishment for “equal work.”
Under the new law, the requirement of “same establishment” has been deleted, and the employee need only show he or she is not being paid at the same rate for “substantially similar work.”
Substantially similar work means a composite of skill, effort and responsibility, performed under similar working conditions.
Employment law attorneys say the employer has the burden to affirmatively demonstrate the pay difference being complained about is based on any or all of these specific factors:
• A seniority system,
• A merit system,
• A system that measures earnings by quality or quantity of production, or
• Another factor, such as education, training or experience.
2. Minimum wage increase
On Jan. 1, the state minimum wage increased to $10 an hour, the last of two incremental increases since legislation was passed in 2013. The first came on July 1, 2014, which moved the rate up to $9 an hour, where it has been until now.
3. Employer mandate part II
At the end of 2015, the Affordable Care Act reprieve for business with 50 to 99 full-time or full-time equivalent employees ends.
Employers of this size are required to provide health insurance to at least 95% of their full-time employees and dependents up to age 26 starting this year.
For employers who don’t provide coverage, the fee is $2,000 per full-time employee (minus the first 30 full-time employees).
Companies with 100 or more full-time employees were required to cover their workers, starting in 2015.
4. Health coverage reporting
Starting in 2016, employers with 50 or more full-time or full-time equivalent employees are required to make additional filings with the IRS, as well as supply their staff with forms.
Applicable large employers (with 50 or more full-time and full-time equivalent employees in the preceding calendar year) will use Form 1094-C and Form 1095-C to satisfy reporting requirements.
If filed on paper, these forms must be put in the mail no later than Feb. 28. If filing is done electronically, the due date is March 31.
You must provide 1095-C to your employees before the end of January, along with their W-2 forms
5. Leeway to avoid frivolous lawsuits
AB 1506 gives employers 33 days to fix technical violations on an itemized wage statement before an employee can pursue civil litigation under the Private Attorneys General Act.
The California Chamber of Commerce championed the bill, which took effect on Oct. 2, 2015, saying it will greatly reduce frivolous litigation over an issue for which “injury” is hard to prove.
You can find out about the next five laws in our Thursday blog entry.