New Laws Change Leaves of Absence in California for 2014. Time Off for Crime Victims
SB 288 protects crime victims from being discharged, discriminated against, or retaliated against pursuant to SB 288 for taking time off from work. Victims, defined as “any person who suffers direct or threatened physical, psychological, or financial harm as a result of the commission or attempted commission of a crime or delinquent act,” can include a spouse, parent, child, sibling, or guardian.
The law, which added Section 230.5 to the Labor Code, provides a list of covered crimes, including vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, felony child abuse likely to produce great bodily harm or a death, felony physical abuse of an elder or dependent adult, solicitation for murder, and “a serious felony.”
Employees must comply with requirements for requesting the leave and employers may request certification for the time off from employees.
Reinstatement and reimbursement for lost wages and benefits are available to employees alleging violation of the new law in a complaint filed with the state's Division of Labor Standards Enforcement.
Time Off for Victims of Stalking and Accommodation for Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Stalking Victims
SB 400 extends existing protections for victims of domestic violence or sexual assault to victims of stalking. Existing protections which will now be extended to stalking victims include time off to appear at legal proceedings (all employers) and to seek medical/psychological treatment, including safety planning (employers with 25 or more employees).
SB 400 also makes it unlawful to discriminate or retaliate against an employee because of his/her status as a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking.
Further, SB 400 requires employers to make reasonable accommodations for enhanced safety for stalking victims, including consideration of options such as transfer, reassignment, a modified schedule, changing an employee's work telephone number or work station, assistance in documenting the stalking, or installing locks. Employers may request certification for the need for an accommodation, such as a police report, court order, or documentation from a medical professional.
Employees may file a complaint for an alleged violation of the law with the state Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (note: a one-year statute of limitations exists).
Time Off for Emergency Duty
AB 11 requires an employer with 50 or more employees to provide a temporary leave of absence of up to 14 days per calendar year for reserve peace officers and emergency rescue personnel to receive training. Current law only provided the training leave of absence to volunteer firefighters. AB 11 also expands the law to cover time off for “emergency rescue training” in addition to the existing protections for fire or law enforcement training. An employee seeking reinstatement and reimbursement pursuant to this section may file a complaint with the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement in accordance with Section 98.7, and upon receipt of this type of complaint, the Labor Commissioner shall proceed as provided in that section.
Need Clarification on Changes to Employee Leave Benefits?
Employers in California should ensure the above changes are reflected in their revised policies and training, specifically procedures for handling requests for time off for victims of stalking and other crimes. Managers and supervisors should be prepared for such requests and the subsequent required actions. If you are an employer with questions about these new laws, the lawyers at Kingsley & Kingsley can help.
If you are an employee facing trying times due to circumstances or events similar to those described above, don't hesitate to contact leading California employment lawyers from Kingsley & Kingsley. Take advantage of a free initial consultation to discuss your specific case by calling us toll-free at (888) 500-8469 or clicking here to contact us.