As an employee here in California, you enjoy certain rights enacted by the state and the federal governments. Some of them have been in place for decades, but the legislature continues to add others as the legislature decides that you need additional protections.
For instance, you have the right to a workplace free from discrimination, harassment and retaliation. Laws also exist to protect your paycheck so that you receive the pay you earn. Last year, the legislature passed some laws that took effect on Jan. 1 that may apply to you.
If you are a new parent
Whether you have a baby, take in a foster child or adopt a child, you probably want to take time off in order to be with your new child. Now, you can, if the company you work for employs 20 or more people. Within the first year, you may take 12 weeks off without pay in order to bond with your child.
Your employer must provide you with your same position or a comparable one upon your return. In addition, you can expect to keep your health insurance at the same level as if you had remained at work. The state of California Family Rights Act and the federal Family and Medical Leave Act already provide these benefits to employees of companies who have 50 or more workers. Therefore, this law now protects a larger number of workers.
If you have a criminal record
Many California residents face challenges when it comes to securing employment if they have criminal records. Now, a potential employer with five or more employees can't ask about your criminal history or disqualify you from employment because of this. Instead, an employer must take each applicant on a case-by-case basis. The law also prohibits an employment application from asking about criminal history.
In some positions, having a criminal record could actually affect the duties you may need to perform. Even so, you may receive the opportunity to discuss the matter with your potential employer. This so-called "Fair Chance Act" gives millions of Californians the chance to showcase their work experience and qualifications without worrying that their mistakes continue to haunt them.
If you faced issues due to your salary history
The days of a recruiter or other agent telling a potential employer about your prior salaries, benefits or compensation ended on Jan. 1. If you wish to provide that information, you may, but it will not determine whether to hire you or how much to pay you if offered the job. In addition, you may request the pay scale for the position for which you are applying.
If you are an immigrant
California employers may not allow immigration agents entry into the non-public areas of their businesses. Immigration agents must request access to the records of employees with a warrant or subpoena unless the employer received a Notice of Inspection. Upon receipt of such a document, the employer must provide all employees within 72 hours of its receipt. If you request it, your employer must provide you with a copy of the notice and the documentation it provided.
If you run into issues with these new laws
As is the case with other areas of employment law, you have rights. If an employer violates these laws, you may seek either monetary or non-monetary compensation.