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State Labor Laws, 2003 - page 7 / 27





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must keep accurate and complete employ- ment records for 3 years including wages paid, hours worked and tips received. Re- newal registrations may not be completed until the employer has satisfied final judg- ments for any unpaid wages, and contribu- tions to the Unemployment Insurance Code, the Employment Development Department, and Social Security and Medicare contribu- tions are up to date.

In response to a 2002 court decision (Smith v. Rae-Venter Law Group), an amend- ment was made to the wage claim procedure to specify what determines a successful ap- peal of a decision of the labor commissioner. An employee claiming to be owed wages may either file a civil action against the employer or file a wage claim with the labor commis- sioner seeking administrative relief. If the la- bor commissioner’s decision is appealed to trial court and the party seeking review is unsuccessful, the trial court is to assess costs and reasonable attorney’s fees against the party who filed the appeal. It is now speci- fied that an employee is successful so long as the employee recovers a judgment in his or her favor. This overturns the court hold- ing that the appealing party is unsuccessful unless the court judgment is more favorable to the appealing party than the labor commissioner’s award.

The law regulating the payment of salary or wages by State agencies, which requires that the employee be furnished with a writ- ten itemized statement showing all deduc- tions made from his or her salary or wages, was amended to permit—at the discretion of the employee—a State agency to issue the required statement electronically rather than in writing. The provision of an electronic statement of itemized deductions will be con- tingent upon certain funding contingencies.

A resolution was adopted proclaiming April 15th, 2003, to be Equal Pay Day in California and urging California citizens to recognize the full value of women’s skills and significant contributions to the labor force. The resolution also urged Congress to protect the rights of allAmerican women and provide more effective remedies to victims of discrimination in the payment of wages on the basis of sex and for other purposes. April 15th symbolizes the day on which wages paid to American women catch up to the wages paid to men from the previous year.

Hours. The law requiring employers to pro- vide meal periods was amended to exempt employees in the wholesale baking industry who are subject to an Industrial Welfare Commission Wage Order and who are cov-

ered by a valid collective bargaining agree- ment that provides for a 35-hour workweek consisting of 5 7-hour days, payment of one and one-half times the regular rate of pay for time worked in excess of 7 hours per day, and a rest period of not less than 10 minutes every 2 hours.

Family issues. Employers are to allow an employee who is a victim of a crime, an im- mediate family member of a victim, a regis- tered domestic partner of a victim, or the child of a registered domestic partner of a victim to be absent from work in order to attend judicial proceedings related to that crime. Prior to the absence, the employee is to give the employer a copy of the notice of each scheduled proceeding that is provided to the victim. When advance notice is not feasible or an unscheduled absence occurs, the employer is not to take any action against the employee if he or she, within a reasonable time, provides the employer with documentation evidencing the judicial pro- ceeding. An employee who is absent from work may use his or her accrued paid vaca- tion time, personal leave time, sick leave time, compensatory time off that is other- wise available to the employee, or unpaid leave time, unless otherwise provided by a collective bargaining agreement. The em- ployer is to keep confidential any records regarding the employee’s absence from work. An employer may not discharge from em- ployment or in any manner discriminate against an employee because of his or her absence.

Health insurance. A Health Insurance Act of 2003 was enacted. This law provides for creation of the State Health Purchas- ing Program administered by the Managed Risk Medical Insurance Board. Large and medium-sized employers will be required to provide their employees with healthcare benefits either directly or through the purchasing program by pay- ment of a fee to the board for coverage. Employees and their dependents of large employers (employers of 200 or more persons in the State) are to be covered beginning January 1, 2006. Employees and their dependents of medium-sized employers (employers of 20 to 199 per- sons in the State) are to be covered begin- ning January 1, 2007. Small employers are exempt from coverage. “Dependent” is defined as the spouse, domestic part- ner, minor child of a covered enrollee, or child 18 years of age and over who is de- pendent on the enrollee, as specified by the board.

Child labor. Laws concerning minors with artistic employment contracts were amended. A maximum of 15 percent of the minor’s gross earnings was set as the amount that must be deposited in a trust account. The parent, trustee or guardian must pro- vide the employer, within 10 business days, a photocopy of the trustee’s statement re- garding the established account. In cases where the parent, guardian or trustee fails to provide the employer with evidence of the trust being established within 180 days of the commencement of employment, the em- ployer is then required to deposit 15 percent of the minor’s gross earnings into a special account held by theActors’Fund ofAmerica. The Actors’ Fund is required to notify the beneficiary of their fund entitlement within 60 days of the minor reaching 18 years of age. The Labor Commissioner may only is- sue a work permit for 6 months, and if the permit is not accompanied by a trustee’s statement demonstrating the creation of a trust account, then the permit is invalid after 10 business days from the date of issuance.

Apparel industry. The Public Contract Code was amended to require the State to provide a “Sweatfree Code of Conduct“ and pro- curement policy that requires State agency procurement contracts (other than those related to public works contracts) to include provisions that prohibit the production of material, equipment, or supplies by forced labor, convict labor (not including work or services provided by an individual em- ployed by the Prison Industry Authority), indentured labor under penal sanction, abu- sive forms of child labor, or exploitation of children in sweatshop labor. This prohibi- tion includes the procurement or laundering of apparel, garments, and accessories includ- ing uniforms. Contractors must certify that no covered items have been laundered or produced by or with the benefit of sweat- shop labor under penalty of perjury. False certifications will be considered to be mis- demeanors. Copies of the code of conduct must be attached to the submitted certifica- tion. Contractors must comply with mini- mum wage, overtime, child labor laws, and benefits applicable to local, State and na- tional laws of the jurisdiction in which the labor is performed.

Industrial homework. Changes were made in the procedures for the disposition of ar- ticles or materials unlawfully manufactured at home, and an appeal process was added. An item unlawfully manufactured at home may be confiscated by the Division of La- bor Standards Enforcement, which will be

Monthly Labor Review

January 2004


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