• Justin Hein

Employee Handbook Update Checklist

2019 saw an avalanche of new, employee-friendly laws be implemented in California. Make sure you revise your Employee Handbook to catch them all.

Back in the day, it used to be a good employee handbook would last you 4 years. Then, two years. Then a year. Then 6-months...

Thanks California (no, seriously, thanks--I am an employment attorney after all).

In all seriousness, a lot changed in 2019. From codification of Dynamex, to the full frontal assault on mandatory employment arbitration, to the laying-in-the-weeds employment recordkeeping component of the CCPA, 2019 was a doozy. And this was just after 2018 saw the implementation of a whole bevy of updates to requirements concerning discrimination and sexual harassment in the workplace that left many practitioners demanding their client's immediately update their handbooks.

Well, if you ignored your attorney and let another layer of dust collect on the Employee Handbook and did not suffer for it--consider yourself lucky. That being said, 2020 would probably NOW be the year to update it.

Seriously, in 2019, Californians saw some changes in California laws affecting employees. And those laws should be top of mind when updating the employee handbook.

2020 Employee Handbook Update Checklist

Below, please find a list of some of the most recent law changes affecting employment that should cause you to take the ole red pen to different sections of the employee handbook:

  • California created requirements for employers to post a notice explaining the provisions of the New Parent Leave Act (NPLA) and the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) if the employer is covered by these acts. This is a change from when only employers with 50 employees or more had to post these notices. Now, employers with 20 to 49 employees must post the new notice, and employers with 50 or more employees will need to update their existing notice.

  • Your workforce may have doubled following the enactment of AB 5 (re: codification of Dynamex, the ABC test for independent contractor classification), so make sure your employment definition, employee classification, and job descriptions mirror the change in the workplace environment

  • Update your anti-discrimination policy and dress/grooming codes to include the newly expanded definition of race under the new California CROWN Act (SB 188).

  • Revise your Prevention of Sexual Harassment policy to reflect new requirements and deadlines as to training, reporting, investigating, and handling complaints levied against Supervisors.

  • Revise information on the statute of limitations for pursuing violations of the Fair Employment and Housing Act from 1-year to 3-years.

  • Update any communication concerning the present minimum wage.

  • Implement policies against Abusive Workplace Conduct (a/k/a Workplace Bullying).

  • Update your workplace lactation accommodation policy to be reflective of SB 142.

  • Remove references to or any type of "No Re-Hire" policy.

  • Incorporate mandatory and immediate reporting serious workplace injuries, illnesses, or death through the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (see: into workplace safety policies

  • Determine if your company is impacted by new mandatory training requirements in the construction industry (SB 530) or janitorial services industry (AB 547).

  • Update description of Paid Family Leave to reflect increase of benefits to 8-weeks come July 2020.

  • Footnote or flag any present mandatory arbitration policy in light of AB 51. Note that this law is presently being fought in court and a stay on its implementation is pending.

  • Ensure that you come into compliance with the employer notice requirements to provide to employees who participate in flexible spending accounts. (AB 1554) Specifically, they must be notified of any deadline to withdraw funds before the plan year’s end TWICE and in TWO different prescribed forms, which may include email, telephone, text message, postal mail and in-person notification.

  • Update the maximum permitted leave for Organ Donor Leave from 30 to 60 days in light of AB 1223.

  • Start planning on how you will come into compliance with the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) concerning employee records and communications, as it goes into effect 2021.

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