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Top 10 Laws and Regulations for 2019

This article is part two of a story on new laws and regulations that will affect businesses in 2019. 

6. New tiered minimum wage

On Jan. 1, 2019, the state minimum wage will increase, depending on employer size, to:

  • $11 per hour for employers with 25 or fewer workers.
  • $12 an hour for employers with 26 or more workers.

Local municipalities may have their own minimum wage rules, so always check to make sure you don’t live in a city or county that has a higher minimum wage.

7. Accommodating lactating mothers

A new law brings California statute into conformity with federal law that requires employers to provide a location other than a bathroom for a lactating mother to express milk.

8. New bar for harassment liability

A California Appeals Court ruling in 2018 set a new standard for what constitutes harassment in the workplace in a case that concerned a correctional officer at a prison who was mocked about his speech impediment on numerous occasions by co-workers.

The significance of the case for employers is that even teasing and sporadic verbal harassment can be enough to create a hostile work environment and, hence, liability.

To reduce the chances of liability, employers should have an anti-harassment policy in writing that their staff should know and understand. Include training and make sure there are steps for reporting harassment, a mechanism for investigating it, and that the ramifications for harassers are clear.

9. Overtime laws

The U.S. Department of Labor plans to propose new regulations governing overtime exemptions from the Fair Labor Standards Act in March 2019.

The DOL is aiming to update FLSA regulations that set a salary threshold below which employees must be paid overtime. Today, it remains at $23,660, after the Obama administration unsuccessfully attempted to raise it to $47,476. President Trump’s DOL is expected to propose a threshold somewhere between $32,000 and $35,000.

10. Indoor heat illness regulations

The plan was for proposed indoor heat illness regulations to be issued before Jan. 1, 2019 for implementation before summer, but the Division of Occupational Safety and Health has said it can’t meet that deadline.

Look for proposed regulations in the first quarter with possible implementation by the summer.

So far, here’s what’s in the draft rules:

The standard would apply to all indoor work areas where the temperature equals or exceeds 82 degrees. Employers that would be subject to all of the standard’s provisions include those who have workplaces where:

  • The temperature is at least 92 degrees,
  • The heat index is at least 90 degrees,
  • Employees wear clothing that restricts heat removal, or
  • Employees work in high-radiant-heat work areas.

It would require employers subject to the rules to provide cool-down areas at all times, and they would be required to encourage and allow employees to take preventative cool-down rests when they feel the need to protect themselves from overheating.

They must also implement control measures that could include engineering controls, isolating employees from heat, using air conditioning, cooling fans, cooling-mist fans, and natural ventilation when the outdoor temperature is lower than inside.

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