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2018 Brings Perks for California Workers - December 28, 2017 - SF Weekly
SF Weekly

2018 Brings Perks for California Workers

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Congressional action in 2017 may have been set back with one “unpresidented” tweet after the other, but California got busy and rebuked the White House every step of the way.

Of the statewide laws set to take effect in 2018, some include wins for workers and a couple of those attempt to break cyclical employment challenges for marginalized groups.

People who have a criminal conviction — say, for shoplifting or selling drugs — will no longer have to check a box admitting so when applying for a job in 2018. Those in the national ban-the-box movement say that would help people with past convictions be properly considered for work, rather than stay locked out of employment for past mistakes.

The new law expands on 2013 legislation that applied only to the state’s public sector, now prohibiting private employers from asking an applicant to disclose information on arrests or criminal convictions. But once the applicant receives a job offer, employers with at least five workers are allowed to seek disclosure.

Employers keenly intent on not hiring people with served time must individually evaluate how the applicant’s history affects the job and notify them.

In 2014, San Francisco adopted the Fair Chance Ordinance that broadly applies this concept to anyone seeking work in the city through an employer with at least 20 workers.

Assembly Bill 168 takes a stab at the gender pay gap by eliminating the ability of employers use past salary history to determine the new salary in a job offer. Employers are prohibited from seeking information on compensation and benefits about an applicant but may consider it only when an applicant volunteers the information.

Plus, employers are required to provide the pay scale for a position to an applicant, upon reasonable request. San Francisco — which still struggles with the gender pay gappassed a similar law in July to that helps prevent women having low wages follow them from one job to the other.

Once a worker gets their foot in the door, they may need to leave for a little while. Now, businesses with at least 20 employees within 75 miles must provide up to 12 weeks of unpaid family leave.

This protects workers — who have been with the company for more than a year — seeking time off after having a baby, adopting a child, or taking one in through foster care to keep their jobs and health care. It also applies to employees who need to take care of their parent or spouse with a serious health condition, or if they have health issues of their own.

The California Legislature did factor in paid leave, with a bill boosting the percentages of that worker’s pay used to calculate compensation while they’re gone.

Lastly, businesses with at least 26 employees must pay their workers another 50 cents an hour. San Franciscans won’t see immediate gains by the statewide minimum wage bumping to $11 an hour, but they can celebrate for their fellow Californians on their way to $15 an hour by 2022.

But according to a June study by the National Low Income Housing Coalition, Californians earning minimum wage would need to work 118 hours a week to afford rent for a two-bedroom home.