Even more New Laws for 2012

  • By: Ruth Evans, Owner of The Evans HR GROUP

Last month, we provided you with information on some of the new laws that became effective January 1.  This column includes some additional laws effective this year along with other important reminders and information.

CREDIT CHECKS

Increasingly, employers have been using consumer credit reports as part of the screening process to verify identity, employment history and to assess the candidate’s honesty, integrity and responsibility.  The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, though, had strong concerns that use of credit check policies can have an unlawful disparate impact in violation of Title VII’s prohibitions against race and national origin discrimination.  Thus – a new law is born!!

Under AB 22, California employers are no longer allowed to use consumer credit reports to screen certain prospective employees or current employees.  Specifically, this Bill prohibits the use of consumer credit reports unless the information in the report is substantially job-related, meaning the position has access to money, other assets or confidential information…and…the position is a) a managerial position, b) a sworn peace officer or other law enforcement position, or c) a position for which the information contained in the report is required to be disclosed by law or to be obtained by the employer.  Job related means the employee is being considered for a job that a) requires regular access to bank or credit card account information, Social Security numbers, or dates of birth (but not if access to such information merely involves routine solicitation and processing of credit card applications in a retail establishment), b) if the employee will be a named signatory on an employer’s bank or credit card account, c) the employee will be authorized to transfer money or enter into financial contracts on the employer’s behalf, d) the job has access to confidential or proprietary information, or e) the job entails regular access during the workday to the employer’s or a client’s cash totaling at least $10,000.

WORKERS COMPENSATION

AB 335 was passed due to a concern that information being provided to workers regarding their rights and benefits under the workers’ compensation system was not easy for them to read, understand and navigate.  This law prescribes rules and regulations regarding notices that are provided to employees in the workers’ compensation system and streamlines and simplifies some notices.  Specifically, this bill:

  • Requires the Administrative Director (AD) of the Division of Workers’ Compensation to consult with the Commission on Health and Safety and Workers’ Compensation (CHSWC) to develop regulations regarding notices for injured workers;
  • Expands the information that the notices must include, i.e. adds supplemental job displacement benefits and rights concerning selection of personal treating physician, requests for comprehensive medical evaluation and offers of regular, modified or alternative work.
  • Provides information that is written in plain language that describes the overall workers’ compensation claims system and rights and obligations.   And mor

AB 1168 requires the AD of the Division of Workers’ Compensation to hold public hearings regarding fee schedules for vocational experts, and after those hearings to establish reasonable maximum fees to be paid for services provided by vocational experts, including but not limited to, vocational evaluations and expert testimony determined to be admissible by the appeals board.  New fee schedules to be effective January 1, 2013.

AB 378 addresses what became a very lucrative practice for some physicians, i.e. the dispensing of compound drugs.  Doctors were taking over-the-counter drugs and repackaging them into “compound drugs”.  This bill establishes guidelines for dispensing compound drugs and will lower workers’ compensation costs.

AB 397 ensures that contractors have workers’ compensation coverage.  Contractors that were exempt from having coverage at the time they were licensed, must now rectify that they are still exempt or that they have obtained coverage at the time of their license renewal.

JUST A REMINDER

OSHA 300 Logs

California employers with 11 or more employees (unless considered a low-hazard establishment in retail, services, finance and real estate sectors—see 29 CFR Part 1904) must maintain records of work-related injuries and illnesses.   Specific forms are required, i.e. OSHA’s Form 300, 300A and 301.

OSHA Form 300A must be completed by February 1, 2010, utilizing the data on Form 300, and must be posted and remain posted through April 30, 2010.  This summary will include injuries/illnesses, how they happened, the severity of the injuries/illnesses, and the number of days the employee missed work due to the injury.  Even if there were no injuries/illnesses, Form 300A must be completed by placing “0’s” in the columns.  The OSHA 300A form must be posted wherever employee notices are usually posted.  If there is more than one business location, a separate log and summary must be posted in each physical location that is expected to be in operation for one year or longer.   The OSHA 300 series logs must be kept for a minimum of 5 years.

Employers are now required to provide a written notice to all new hires at the time of the job offer.

This information includes:  a) the rate of pay and whether they are paid hourly, salary, piece rate, commission, etc., b) any allowances, claims as part of the minimum wage, i.e. meals and lodging, c) the regular pay-day designated by your company, d) the name of the employer including any “doing business as” names, e) the physical address of the employer’s main office or principal place of business and any mailing address, if different, f) the telephone number of the employer, and g) the name, address and telephone number of the employer’s workers’ compensation carrier.  The Notice to Employee provided by the Labor Commissioner includes whether the employer is a sole proprietor, corporation, limited liability company, general partnership, “other” type of entity or a staffing agency.  This notice does not need to be provided to an employee exempt from overtime wages by statute or wage order, or employees covered by collectively bargained agreements that expressly provide for wages, hours of work and working conditions, and provides for premium wage rates for all overtime worked.  Interesting….it also doesn’t apply to employees directly employed by the state or any political subdivision thereof.

The new IRS mileage reimbursement rate for 2012 is 55.5 cents per mile.

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