Sexual Harassment Training Becomes Law for Small Employers: Are You Ready for CA Senate Bill 1343?

With an ever-increasing number of employment laws on the books, it has become  vitally important to stay current with California’s complex landscape of employment law.  Are you aware that doing business in California means paying different minimum wages based on your company’s size or the location?  Or, If you have employees working in California you must provide them with an adequate amount of sick time based on their tenure with your company?  These are just two of the more recent changes to CA employment law that have had wide-ranging implications to most employers.  This year, you will be required to train your entire staff on how to avoid sexual harassment in the workplace.

As of January 1st, 2019 California Senate Bill #1343 became law.   Now all California employers who employ five or more people in our state are required to have all of non-supervisory level employees attend a one-hour interactive sexual harassment training course—with no exceptions.  You read that right, under the new law you’ll need to have your entire staff certified by 2020, then again every two years, moving forward. 

If this sounds slightly familiar, you may be confusing this bill with CA AB 1825.  CA Assembly Bill 1825 was enacted in 2004 and signed into law by then Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.  Under AB 1825 employers with 50 or more employees were mandated to have all supervisors attend an interactive sexual harassment training of at least two hours, once every two years.  Senate Bill 1343 keeps the standard requiring supervisor’s training to be at least two hours, however, the new bill greatly reduces the threshold to include employers with 5 or more employees.

If you’re a small employer chances are you don’t have a dedicated HR department or perhaps even a dedicated HR person to help you stay current with the complexities of CA employment laws.   For many small businesses, staying up-to-date with employment law doesn’t take priority amongst the hustle and bustle of day to day business.  I’m here to tell you it should! Violations can lead to fines and penalties that can stack up quickly and be extremely costly!  Employment law is truly one place where Benjamin Franklin’s adage of “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” definitely holds true.

 There are a number of resources a business can utilize to help remain compliant with CA Labor Laws.  My favorites are CalChamber and The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).  Locally, we have a The North Coast Employers Advisory Council (NEAC), which is a non- profit partnership with EDD (full disclosure—I am the chairperson for our local chapter).  Of course, I would also be remiss if I didn’t mention co-employment as a way to ensure you remain compliant.   Co-Employment, or “Employee Leasing,” allows you to focus on what you do best and let someone else take care of your staff from an employment law perspective.

However you choose to keep up to date on your labor law issues, now is the time to pay close attention to SB 1343 because the clock is ticking to become compliant with this new law.