The California Legislature is currently reviewing AB 1484 (Zbur), a bill that would add Section 3507.7 to the Meyers-Milias-Brown Act (MMBA). Proponents of the bill hope that it will address an increase in public agency use of temporary employees, aiming to bring equity to temporary employees who perform similar work as permanent employees but without some of the benefits afforded to permanent employees. However, as discussed below, City, County, and Special District employers subject to the MMBA may incur certain fiscal and administrative impacts if the bill passes legislative muster.

Temporary Employee Defined

AB 1484 defines a temporary employee as “a temporary employee, casual employee, seasonal employee, periodic employee, extra-help employee, relief employee, limited-term employee, per diem employee, and any other employee who has not been hired for a permanent position.” It specifies that the law will apply to temporary employees who are “hired to perform the same or similar type of work that is performed by permanent employees.”

Potential Requirements under AB 1484

The bill would impose certain duties on public employers with respect to temporary employees as defined above. These requirements include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • At a recognized employee organization’s request, certain temporary employees would be automatically included in the same bargaining unit as permanent employees.
  • Also upon request, parties would need to negotiate terms and conditions of employment within a single Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) covering both permanent and temporary employees.
  • Upon a temporary employee’s hire, the public employer would be required to provide each temporary employee with a job description, wage rates, eligibility for benefits, anticipated length of employment, and procedures to apply for open, permanent positions. Employers would need to produce this information to the exclusive representative within five (5) business days of hire.
  • Also within five (5) business days of hire, employers would need to provide the exclusive representative with the temporary employee’s anticipated end date and certain employee information pursuant to Government Code section 3558.
  • Finally, if not waived in the MOU, temporary employees would become entitled to certain grievance procedure rights after 30 calendar days of employment, specifically to challenge disciplinary actions without cause.

Any violation of Section 3507.7 would be actionable as an unfair practice charge before the California Public Employment Relations Board (PERB).

Potential Impact on Public Employers

Proponents of AB 1484 indicate that the bill does not intend to restrict a public employer’s ability to employ temporary employees or to give temporary employees permanent status; instead, the focus is on allowing temporary employees to bargain alongside permanent employees.

However, employers should be aware of potential fiscal and administrative impacts. For example, employers may incur costs and expenditure of administrative time and effort related to adding temporary employees to a bargaining unit or MOU, implementing wages and benefits negotiated by temporary employees, and administering the grievance process.

These and other associated costs may interfere with temporary employee retention and hiring. In fact, the League of California Cities, in opposition to the bill, foresees a potential increase in hiring costs for temporary employees to the public’s detriment. They project a potential impact on “extra help” employees often retained for seasonal or “surge” needs, such as nurses, health care workers, election workers, and parks and recreation staff.

Finally, by mandating the inclusion of temporary employees in established bargaining units, the bill will necessarily impact the public employer’s options for delivering essential services by expanding the number of employees covered by a strike while limiting the employer’s options for utilizing alternative personnel. Thus, the bill raises questions about the role of temporary employees as providers of necessary public services when strikes occur, what impact, if any, the bill may have during the negotiation of “line pass” agreements, and the identification of employees who will stand ready to cross the picket lines to assist in the event of an emergency. These potential adverse consequences should be carefully evaluated and presented by the bill’s opponents.

LCW will continue to monitor and report on the status of this legislation.

On January 1, 2023, Assembly Bill 2777 (AB 2777), also known as the Sexual Abuse and Cover-Up Accountability Act (the “Act”), officially became the law. The Act provides sexual abuse victims an opportunity to seek justice in California. It is important to note that while the Act revives claims against various entities, public entities are exempt from the Act.

Originally, the statute of limitations for sexual abuse claims that occurred on or after the victim’s 18th birthday was 10 years or within three years from the date the victim discovers or reasonably should have discovered that an injury or illness resulted from those acts.

Today, the Act provides a three-year window for survivors of sexual assault to file a claim and recover damages as a result of crimes that occurred on or after January 1, 2009. In other words, from January 1, 2023 through December 31, 2026, sexual assault and abuse claims, which would otherwise be barred by the statute of limitations, will be revived and officially be eligible to be brought in civil court, provided that those claims were barred solely because of the expiration of the statute of limitations. As a result, California plaintiffs will now have a window of opportunity to secure justice on their own terms for crimes such as rape, sexual assault, and sexual abuse, as well as any related claims arising out of the sexual assault, such as sexual harassment and wrongful termination, that occurred on or after January 1, 2009.

Separately, the new legislation has also created a one-year revival window which allows victims to bring sexual assault claims (including claims arising out of sexual assault) involving cover-ups that would otherwise be barred, before January 1, 2023, because the statute of limitations expired. Survivors may bring these claims between January 1, 2023 and December 31, 2023. A cover-up is defined as: “A concerted effort to hide evidence relating to a sexual assault that incentivizes individuals to remain silent or prevents information relating to a sexual assault from becoming public or being disclosed to the plaintiff, including, but not limited to, the use of nondisclosure agreements or confidentiality agreements.”

In order to qualify for the cover-up claim under the one-year lookback window provision, the plaintiff needs to allege the following: (1) He, she, or they were sexually assaulted; (2) One or more entities are legally responsible for damages stemming from that sexual assault (“Legally responsible” means that the entity or entities are liable under any theory of liability established by statute or common law, including, but not limited to, negligence, intentional torts, and vicarious liability); and (3) Said entities, which may include employees, officers, directors, representatives, or agents, engaged in a cover-up or attempted cover-up of a previous instance or allegation of sexual assault by an alleged perpetrator of such abuse.

It is important to note the Act does not revive any of the following claims:

(1) A claim that has been litigated to finality in a court of competent jurisdiction before January 1, 2020;

(2) A claim that has been compromised by a written settlement agreement between the parties entered into before January 1, 2020; or

(3) A claim brought against a public entity.

What Should Employers do in light of AB 2777?

It is now more important than ever for employers to review their anti-sexual harassment, discrimination, and retaliation policies and ensure managers and supervisors are adequately trained and informed on the legal ramifications of sexual assault and to avoid any practices that would incentivize silence surrounding sexual assault in the workplace. Employers should also monitor employee files for any complaints of sexual assault or harassment and promptly investigate any such complaints, and ensure records are created and filed properly.

After three years of COVID-19, many employers are familiar with the occupational safety and health regulations that relate to that specific workplace hazard and the Division of Occupational Safety and Health (“Division” or “DOSH”) which enforces those regulations. (Note: The Division is often referred to as Cal/OSHA.)

However, even with COVID-19 (hopefully) disappearing into the distance in your rearview mirror, it is important to be mindful of the Division’s other regulatory responsibilities, so that your public agency can respond confidently in the event that you see the Division’s flashing red and blue lights approaching you from behind.

To provide you that peace of mind, this post describes how your agency should respond in the event your agency receives notice of a complaint from the Division.

The Division’s Authority

The Division is responsible for ensuring that employers, including public agencies, comply with the General Industry Safety Orders (See Title 8 of the California Code of Regulations). These are occupational safety and health regulations that apply generally to all employers in the state of California and cover subjects ranging from a facility’s physical condition to employees’ exposure to hazardous substances, excessive noise, heat, and more.  The Division possesses broad investigatory and enforcement authority and can cite employers and impose significant monetary penalties.

The Complaint

A complaint is an allegation that a hazardous condition existed or hazardous conduct occurred at a worksite controlled by an employer.

In the event that the Division becomes aware of such a hazard at a public agency (usually through a complaint, anonymous or otherwise), the Division will provide notice to the agency and certain information about the hazard and the regulation allegedly violated.

The Division will provide notice of the complaint to the public agency prior to the Division conducting any investigation of the alleged hazard. As a result, the Division’s issuance of notice of a complaint does not constitute a determination by the Division that any hazardous condition actually exists. Rather, the Division’s notice is an opportunity for the public agency to investigate and, as may be necessary, correct any hazard that may have existed. 

Information Provided in the Notice

Notices of complaint include the following information: (1) information about the alleged hazard and the regulation allegedly violated; (2) the public agency’s obligation to investigate the alleged hazard; (3) the agency’s obligation to post the notice of the complaint; and (4) an admonition to refrain from any discriminatory or retaliatory conduct against the complainant.

The notice will include the following information about the alleged regulatory violation: (1) the work location where the violation allegedly occurred; (2) the regulation allegedly violated; and (3) the conduct or condition at the location that allegedly constitutes a violation of the regulatory section.  

The notice will also instruct the public agency to investigate the alleged hazard and to notify the Division as to whether the alleged hazard exists. The notice will set a deadline (typically five (5) days from the agency’s receipt of the notice) for the employer to respond to the Division and inform the Division about the existence of the hazard.

Finally, the notice will inform the public agency of the agency’s obligation to post the notice. The agency must post the notice in a prominent location in the workplace (e.g., a bulletin board where the agency typically posts notices to employees about work-related issues) and must maintain the posting for at least three (3) days.  

Investigating the Complaint

After posting the notice, as described above, an agency should undertake the following actions in order to investigate and remediate any potential hazard:

1. Contact the Division to obtain any additional information about the alleged hazard and violation (Note: The notice will identify the district office and will provide the name and contact information for the district manager or staff member responsible for the complaint. The district office may possess additional information about the nature of the specific complaint);

2. Review and analyze the specific regulation or regulations cited in the notice in order to understand the extent of the employer’s regulatory obligations (Note: The notice will provide a web address where employers can search for the specific regulatory section identified in the notice);

3. Inform management staff who are responsible for the work location where the hazard allegedly existed or occurred and the staff who are responsible for conduct that may have created the hazard;

4. Investigate and, as necessary, correct the hazard.

A public agency may request additional time from the Division in order to investigate an alleged hazard. If the agency anticipates requiring additional time beyond that set forth in the notice, it is advisable that the agency request an extension from the Division as soon as is practicable, so as not to violate the deadline if the requested extension is not granted.

Responding to the Division

After the public agency thoroughly investigates the alleged hazard, the agency should respond in writing to the Division, either denying the existence of the hazard at the work location or explaining that the employer remedied or is in the process of remedying whatever hazard may have existed.

It is imperative to respond to the Division in the period prescribed as failure to do so may result in the Division conducting a worksite inspection, which could result in the Division issuing citations and imposing monetary penalties related to the alleged regulatory violation. Further, a worksite investigation could also potentially uncover additional supposed regulatory violations that were not initially at issue. (Note: Even if the agency responds to the Division in a comprehensive and timely manner, the Division retains authority to conduct a worksite inspection in order to ensure the agency’s regulatory compliance.)

The written response to the Division should be clear and concise. The response should explain why there was no hazard or regulatory violation at the work location identified or, if there was a hazard, what affirmative specific steps the agency undertook in order to address and correct the hazard and why, as a result, the agency is no longer in violation of the cited regulation.

In addition to the written response, the agency should provide the Division relevant documentation, such as copies of policies, photographs of the work location, or contracts for corrective work, that support the employer’s position that there was either no hazard or regulatory violation or that the hazard was remedied and compliance reestablished.

Refrain from Any Discriminatory or Retaliatory Conduct

It is imperative that public agencies observe California law, which protects employees who file complaints about occupational safety and health hazards, and refrain from engaging in any discriminatory or retaliatory conduct against anyone that the agency believes may have filed the complaint or assisted with its filing.

While agencies may interview employees who witnessed the hazard as part of the agency’s investigation into the hazard, as a best practice, an agency should not seek to identify the complainant.

In the event of a notice of the type described above, it is prudent to contact trusted legal counsel familiar with the occupational safety and health regulations and who can assist public agencies respond to complaints, facilitate worksite inspections, and appeal citations and penalties.  

The weather is getting warmer and the sun is getting brighter, and you know what that means–employers everywhere are calling their lawyers to ask how they can put teenagers on payroll this summer! Many employers that operate summer programming seek to hire minors as recreational leaders, day camp counselors, and the like, but find themselves mystified by the legal restrictions and requirements for hiring employees under the age of 18. The following primer addresses some frequently asked questions about the law and best practices regarding hiring minors.

Work Permits and Age Certification

The California Education and Labor Codes require that prior to employing a minor under age 18 in California, an employer must obtain a work permit issued by the minor’s school. The process for obtaining a work permit is as follows: After a minor receives an offer of employment, the minor obtains a “Statement of Intent to Employ a Minor and Request for a Work Permit – Certificate of Age” (California Department of Education (CDE) Form B1-1) from their school. The form contains sections for the minor, their parent/guardian, the prospective employer, and the school to complete.  After the minor returns the form to their school, if all requirements are satisfied, the school will issue the minor a work permit (CDE Form B1-4). The Labor Code requires employers to retain a minor employee’s work permit until the beginning of the fourth year after the work permit was issued.

However, many public agencies don’t realize that both the Department of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) and the California Department of Education take the position that state and local agencies are exempt from the work permit requirement. The basis for this exemption is the general rule of statutory interpretation that unless Labor Code provisions are expressly made applicable to public employers, they only apply to private sector employers. (Johnson v. Arvin-Edison Water Storage Dist.) Public agency employers should be sure to check the applicable local policies, though–some cities and counties require public agency employers to obtain work permits despite the exemption from state law.

Because public agencies are subject to the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), they still need to obtain a Certificate of Age establishing that the minor is above the “oppressive child labor age” applicable to the occupation in which the minor will be employed. Therefore, public agencies seeking to employ minors should still require the minor to obtain a signed and completed CDE Form B1-1 from their school. The agency must keep each minor’s Certificate of Age on file while they are employed, then return the Certificate of Age to the minor when their employment concludes.

Wage, Hour, and Occupational Restrictions

Public and private employers alike are subject to the FLSA, which establishes different restrictions on the hours and types of work a minor may perform depending on the minor’s age:

  • With limited exceptions, employers generally may not hire minors under the age of 14.
  • Minors age 14-15 may not work more than 8 hours per day and 40 hours per week when school is not in session. The FLSA also enumerates an exhaustive list of the jobs that 14-15-year-olds may perform, including tutoring, office work, and lifeguarding.
  • Minors age 16 and over are prohibited from performing work that the FLSA deems hazardous, including driving a vehicle.

While minors age 16 and over are not subject to work hour restrictions under the FLSA, the California Labor Code limits their hours to 8 hours per day, 48 hours per week. Like the work permit requirement, this provision of the Labor Code does not apply to public agency employers.

All California employers, both public and private, must pay minor employees at least the minimum wage and applicable overtime rates established by the California Industrial Welfare Commission.

Fingerprinting and TB Testing

According to the California Education Code, employers must require fingerprinting for each employee and volunteer for a public recreation program who will have “direct contact with minors.” Similarly, the California Public Resources Code requires parks and recreation employers to fingerprint prospective employees and volunteers who will have “supervisory or disciplinary authority over a minor.” In addition, the same code requires a tuberculosis (TB) screening for all employees of parks and recreation facilities who will have direct contact with children. The positions in which employers seek to employ minors often entail direct contact with or supervision of other minors in the context of a recreational program–for example, a coach for a youth sports program or a counselor for a day camp. For such positions in parks and recreation programs, public agency employers must require both fingerprinting and TB screening for minor employee hires.

Beyond the field of parks and recreation, the Education and Health & Safety Codes require a TB risk assessment for employees of a public or private school. The Education Code also directs private school employers to require fingerprinting for any applicant to a position involving contact with minor students. Public school employers must require fingerprints for applicants as well (but note that the Education Code exempts from this requirement any K-12 school district seeking to employ a high school student within its own jurisdiction).

One important consideration sets minor employees apart from their adult counterparts in this context: we strongly advise that employers obtain a parent or guardian’s consent before requiring a minor to submit to fingerprinting or TB testing, in light of the confidential nature of the information.

Fitness for Duty Exams and Drug & Alcohol Testing

Some employers require post-offer fitness for duty exams, often for positions that involve physical fitness such as coaching. Under the ADA and California law, an employer may require a post-offer medical examination, including fitness for duty exams, if (1) it requires all applicants for the position to take the examination and (2) the examination is job related and consistent with business necessity. Therefore, employers should require minor applicants to a position to undergo medical examinations to the same extent as adult applicants to that same position.

With regard to drug and alcohol testing, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has held that employers may only require post-offer, pre-employment drug testing if there is a “special need” to do so–that is, if the position is “safety-sensitive” in that it involves danger to the public (Lanier v. City of Woodburn). The court held that supervision of minors alone does not make a position “safety-sensitive.” If an employer determines there is a special need for drug testing with regard to the position for which the minor has been hired, then as with fitness for duty exams, minors should be subject to the same drug testing to which adult applicants to the position are subject.

With limited exceptions, only the parent or guardian of a minor has the legal capacity to consent to medical care for the minor in California, including treatment and diagnosis. According to the EEOC, drug and alcohol tests and some types of fitness for duty exams are considered “medical examinations” under the ADA. Therefore, we advise that employers obtain the consent of a minor applicant’s parent or guardian before requiring the minor to undergo a fitness for duty exam and/or a drug or alcohol test.

If you’re considering hiring minors this summer, trusted legal counsel can help you sort through the legal requirements particular to your jurisdiction and draft parental consent forms before the school bell rings in summer break.

In today’s technology-centered workplace, employees and employers have more options than ever before on how to communicate.  Calling, video-conferencing, and even texting amongst co-workers has become the norm.  And with the recent shift towards remote and hybrid work situations, many of these communications are happening from the comfort of employees’ homes.  With the lines between the home and workplace blurring, analyzing responsibility when misconduct occurs can be tricky.  Luckily, in the recent case of Atalla v. Rite Aid, the Court of Appeal made clear employers are not liable under harassment law for employees’ off-duty actions completely unrelated to work, even between a supervisor and subordinate.

Hanin Atalla and Erik Lund met in fall of 2017, when Atalla shadowed Lund at Rite Aid during her pharmacy school rotations.  When Atalla’s rotation at Rite Aid ended, she attended a celebratory dinner with Lund and his wife and the two kept in close touch.  Atalla later began work at Rite Aid as a graduate intern and then hourly staff pharmacist; Lund was her supervisor.  Atalla and Lund became close friends, celebrated a Friendsgiving, joked regularly, and frequently went to lunch.  They frequently texted on their personal cell phones about a range of personal matters, including travel and vacations, exercise, food, weight loss, restaurants and getting together for meals, family and relatives, birthdays, fashion, drinking and alcohol, work issues, their respective spouses, pets, and social media.  They also dined together as couples with their spouses, including once for Atalla’s birthday.

On a Friday night approximately one month after Atalla’s birthday, while Atalla was at home and Lund was at a hotel for personal business Lund began texting Atalla on their personal cell phones about the alcohol he was preparing to drink at the hotel.  Shortly thereafter, Lund texted her a “Live Photo” of him masturbating, followed by a text that said, “I am so drunk right now.”  He then texted, “Meant to send to wifey”, to which Atalla responded, “It’s ok, I deleted it before I end up in a divorce.”  Lund then sent several more texts stating, “Both of us” and “Race to the bottom” accompanied by a photo of his penis.  Atalla texted, “Erik, stop please,” to which he replied, “You are right.”  The exchange ended.  The following Monday, Atalla called in sick to work.  A few days later, Atalla’s counsel sent a letter to Rite Aid asserting a claim of sexual harassment.  When questioned by the Human Resources Leader, Lund admitted to sending the photos and videos Atalla mentioned in her letter.

Rite Aid promptly fired Lund and Atalla said she would not be returning to work.  She filed a claim for violation of the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) for sexual harassment, failure to prevent sexual harassment, and hostile work environment, among other things.  The trial court granted Rite Aid’s motion for summary judgment, and Atalla appealed.

The California Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court because Atalla had not raised a triable issue of material fact that Lund was acting in the capacity of a supervisor during the text exchange.  Rather, the Court agreed with the trial court and Rite Aid that Lund and Atalla had an extensive texting relationship that predated her employment, the exchange occurred outside the workplace and outside of work hours, and the exchange arose from their friendship (although it also ended it).  Moreover, Atalla admitted that she and Lund were friends before she worked at Rite Aid and their friendship was not connected to her work at Rite Aid.

Because Atalla could not make the fundamental showing that Lund was acting in a supervisorial capacity, the Court affirmed the trial court’s ruling and dismissed the case against Rite Aid.

Employers can take relief in this type of outcome, however, it highlights the importance of maintaining proper training and up-to-date policies on sexual harassment and fraternization in the workplace.  If Lund had been acting in his capacity as a supervisor, the employer could have been strictly liable for his conduct.  Also, Lund could have been personally liable for damages.  LCW offers comprehensive sexual harassment training tailored for both supervisors and employees that meet the minimum FEHA requirements.

Atalla v. Rite Aid (2023 S.O.S. 992): 

On March 15, 2023, CalPERS issued Circular Letter 200-014-23, setting forth new requirements that contracting agencies must follow when determining whether local safety members are substantially incapacitated from performance of their usual duties for the purposes of a disability retirement.  Specifically, under Circular Letter 200-014-23, agencies are now required to submit additional documentation and information to CalPERS, including several newly created CalPERS forms, when certifying an application for disability retirement, industrial disability retirement, and re-evaluation for continuous eligibility for disability retirement.

For context, CalPERS previously required agencies to certify the following information when making a decision regarding a member’s application for disability retirement:

  1. A statement certifying under penalty of perjury that the agency made the determination based on competent medical opinion.
  2. A statement certifying under penalty of perjury that the agency did not use the determination as a substitute for the disciplinary process.
  3. A finding indicating the member’s substantial incapacitation from the performance of their usual duties.
  4. A statement confirming whether the member filed a Workers’ Compensation claim for their disabling condition(s), and if so, a statement as to whether the claim was accepted.
  5. A finding by the agency as to whether the member’s incapacity is industrial.
  6. A statement documenting the member’s last day on payroll.
  7. A statement as to whether there is the possibility of third party liability.
  8. A statement identifying the disability condition(s)/body parts.
  9. A statement supported by competent medical evidence that the duration of the disabling condition is expected to be permanent, last at least 12 consecutive months, or result in death.
  10. A statement identifying the monthly amount and beginning date of Advanced Disability Payments, if they have been or will be paid to the member.

Now, in addition to the above-requirements, agencies must provide more information to CalPERS regarding the member’s job duties and the medical support for the agency’s decision.  For example, agencies must complete a form detailing how often the member performs various physical activities such as interacting with others, lifting weight, sitting, standing, kneeling, and climbing in the course of their employment.  The form also requires agencies to indicate if the member has been through the reasonable accommodation process, and if so, requires the agency to submit the reasonable accommodation documentation to CalPERS.

Agencies must also submit a form, signed by a physician, that includes the physician’s findings and diagnosis and answers specific questions regarding whether the member is substantially incapacitated.  If the member is found substantially incapacitated, the physician must list the specific job duties the member is unable to perform due to incapacity, and whether the incapacity is permanent or will last longer than 12 months.

In order for CalPERS to process the application, agencies must provide the following forms and documentation:

  1. Physical Requirements of Position/Occupational Title (Local Safety) form.
  2. Job duty statement.
  3. Physician’s Report on Disability (Local Safety) form.
  4. Worker’s Compensation Carrier Request (Local Safety) form.
  5. All medical reports used in making the medical determination for Disability Retirement/Industrial Disability Retirement benefits including reevaluation.
  6. The determination resolution or certification.

All of these requirements are new, except for the determination resolution or certification. The determination resolution or certification must still include the previously required information described in items No. 1-10 above.  See the Circular Letter for the required CalPERS forms.

CalPERS states in the Circular Letter that this additional information is necessary to ensure that disability retirement and industrial disability retirement benefits are provided only to eligible members.  Additionally, CalPERS notes that the new requirements are necessary to adhere to Government Code sections 21232 and 21233, which in part, provide limitations on employment while a retiree is receiving disability retirement or industrial disability retirement benefits.

CalPERS cites Government Code sections 20221 and 21028 as its authority for implementing these changes.  Government Code section 20221 requires agencies provide to CalPERS any information concerning its members that CalPERS may require in the administration of its system.  Government Code section 20128 requires that members or beneficiaries provide information that CalPERS deems necessary to determine its liability with respect to an individuals’ entitlement to benefits.

Take-Away for Agencies

Although it is not yet clear how CalPERS intends to use the additional information, CalPERS appears to require this additional information to more closely scrutinize contracting agencies’ decisions regarding local safety members’ disability retirement and industrial disability retirement applications.  For example, many agencies rely solely on workers’ compensation reports, which may contain presumptions or prophylactic work restrictions that are inapplicable under the Public Employees’ Retirement Law.  Government Code section 21154 provides that contracting agencies, rather than CalPERS, are responsible for determining whether local safety members (other than school safety members) are incapacitated from their duties.  It is uncertain if these new requirements will change who decides whether an application is granted or how applications are processed.  However, agencies will have to provide additional documentation to CalPERS supporting the underlying application and may have to obtain more independent medical examinations as a result of the changes.

Liebert Cassidy Whitmore attorneys are closely monitoring developments in relation to this Special Bulletin and are able to advise on the impact this could have on your organization. If you have any questions about this issue, please contact our Los Angeles, San Francisco, Fresno, San Diego, or Sacramento office.

Spring cleaning is a time-honored tradition that many people use to refresh and reorganize their homes and workplaces.  For employers, it is also a great opportunity to revisit and update your employee handbooks.  Maybe you had the best intentions of revamping your employee handbook at year end but the holidays came and went and your employee handbook is still on your to do list.  Don’t worry!  It’s not too late!  Spring cleaning is an ideal time to freshen up your employee handbook. 

An employee handbook is a document that outlines an organization’s policies, procedures, and expectations for its employees. It’s an important tool for communicating with and educating employees about their rights and responsibilities. However, as laws and regulations change, and as your agency’s needs evolve, it’s important to regularly review and update it.

Here are some tips for employers on how to update employee handbooks as part of your spring cleaning:

  • Compliance with laws and regulations: You should ensure that your handbooks are in compliance with all applicable federal, state, and local laws and regulations. This includes, for example, updating handbooks to reflect changes in labor and employment laws such as the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). 
  • Agency policies and procedures: Review your existing policies and procedures to make sure they are still relevant and appropriate. You should also consider adding new policies and procedures as needed, such as a policy on remote work or an updated procedure for reporting harassment or discrimination.
  • Employee benefits: Review your employee benefits and make sure that the information in the handbook is accurate and up-to-date.  This is also a good time to consider making changes to benefits as needed, such as adding new options or increasing contributions.
  • Address any changes in the workplace: You should also review your employee handbooks to ensure they address any changes in the workplace, such as new technologies or remote work policies. This can include updating policies on the use of employer-provided equipment and software, as well as outlining the particular procedures for working remotely.
  • Ensure consistency: You should review your employee handbooks to ensure consistency across all policies and procedures – including any applicable MOUs. This includes ensuring that the language used is consistent and that the formatting is clear and easy to understand.
  • Communicate the changes: Once the employee handbook has been updated, you should communicate the changes to all employees.  This can be done through an agency-wide meeting, through an email, or through an intranet or employee portal.  You should also provide employees with the updated handbook and have them sign an acknowledgement form indicating that they have read and understand the new policies.
  • Regularly review: Lastly, you should make it a practice regularly to review and update your employee handbooks.  This can be done on a yearly basis as part of your annual Spring cleaning or as needed, depending on the organization and the changes in the workplace.

By regularly reviewing and updating your employee handbooks, you can ensure that your policies and procedures are current, that they are in compliance with laws and regulations, and that they are communicating effectively with employees.  This not only helps to protect your agency, as well as its employees, but also creates a more positive and productive work environment for everyone. 

If your employee handbook needs a spring-time refresh, trusted legal counsel can help!  Also, our Liebert Library has updated model policies available to help with review and update of handbooks.