top of page

Changes to California Employment Laws in 2015 that Every Employer Should Know

By Jennifer A. Grady, Esq. and Gayane Khechoomian, Esq.

The California Legislature was quite active in 2014, resulting in several substantial changes to the law for 2015 that are employee-friendly.  Employers should take note of the changes to the law described below.


1. Minimum Wage Increases

The minimum wage increased statewide, with even higher increases in particular cities:

  1. California’s minimum wage of $9.00 will increase again to $10.00 on January 1, 2016;

  2. San Francisco wages will increase to $11.05 on January 1, 2015; then to $12.25 in May; wages will increase every year thereafter until the minimum wage reaches $15.00 in 2018;

  3. Oakland will increase to $12.25 on March 2, 2015;

  4. San Diego will increase to $9.75 on January 1, 2015;

  5. Note: exempt employees must meet new minimum wage laws

2. New Paid Sick Leave Requirements

One of the most confusing and game-changing changes to the law is the new paid sick leave law requirements for all employers.

Starting on July 1, 2015, a new law affecting millions of Californians will require that employers – both public and private – provide paid sick leave to all their employees. The “Healthy, Workplace, Healthy Families Act” (AB-1522) signed into effect by Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. applies to all employees who work in California for 30 or more days in a year. The law defines “employer” as any person employing another under any appointment or contract of hire” regardless of how many employees they have,  and covers employees whether they are full-time, part-time, seasonal, or temporary. Specifically, the new provision provides that employees who work 30 or more days within a year from commencement of their employment will earn a minimum of one hour of paid sick leave for every thirty (30) hours worked.

Employees become entitled to their sick leave beginning on the ninetieth (90th) date of employment. However, an employer may limit an employee’s use of paid sick days to 24 hours—or three (3) days—in each year of employment. Click here for more information on this topic, or schedule an appointment to speak with an attorney about how to implement these new procedures.

3. AB 1897: Joint Liability for Staffing Agencies & Labor Contractors

The changes to this law apply when a worker is hired by a staffing agency (labor contractor) to work for an employer.  Both parties share civil legal responsibility and civil liability for all workers supplied by that labor contractor for the payment of wages and the failure to obtain valid workers’ compensation coverage. The bill would prohibit a client employer from shifting to the labor contractor legal duties or liabilities under workplace safety provisions with respect to workers provided by the labor contractor.  The law imposes all civil legal responsibility and liability on the client employer, defined as having 25 or more workers, for any wage-and-hour violations committed by the labor contractor for the labor contractor’s employees it supplied pursuant to the contract with the client employer.

A worker who believes he or she has not been properly paid or has suffered an injury and there is no workers’ compensation policy may pursue an administrative claim or civil action against the client employer, labor contractor or both.

Additionally, it imposes civil liability and legal responsibility on the client employer for the labor contractor’s failure to secure valid workers’ compensation coverage for the labor contractor’s employees working pursuant to the contract with the client employer.

4. AB 2074: Liquidated damages and Statutes of Limitations for Wage Claims

The bill clarifies that the statute of limitations for liquidated damages for wage claims is the same as the underlying wage claim.  This means that if the statute of limitations on a wage claim is three (3) years, the statute of limitations on the liquidated damages claim is also three (3) years.

5. AB 2288: Child Labor Protection Act

Under this act, an individual may be entitled to treble damages if he or she is discriminated against in the terms or conditions of his or her employment because he or she filed a claim or civil action alleging a violation of the California Labor Code that arose while he or she was a minor. The new law specifies that the statute of limitations for a child labor violation is tolled until the child reaches the age of 18.


© Jennifer Grady

© Jennifer Grady

Beginning on Jan. 1, 2015, the standard mileage rates for the use of a car, van, pickup, or panel truck will be:

57.5 cents per mile for business miles driven –23 cents per mile driven for medical or moving purposes –14 cents per mile driven in service of charitable organizations

Even thought the cost of fuel has declined, mileage reimbursement rates have increased over last year’s rates in order to account for the increase in cost for wear and tear and repairs.  Click here for the full article.


1. AB 1634: Safety violations

This law will require employers to correct a serious or willful safety violation immediately, regardless of intent to appeal, unless the employer can demonstrate, without a doubt, that a stay or suspension of abatement will not adversely affect the health and safety of employees.  The employer must request a stay or suspension of abatement by filing a written, verified petition with supporting declarations within 10 days after the issuance of the order or decision.  The bill is designed to prevent employees from having to work in unsafe conditions during the appeals process.

2. AB 326: Requirement to Email OSHA to Report On-the-Job Injuries

This law amends the labor code and requires every employer to make an immediate report by telephone or e-mail of every case involving an employee’s serious injury or illness or death to the Division of Occupational Safety and Health. Prior law required an employer to make an immediate report by telephone or telegraph of every case involving an employee’s serious injury or illness or death to the division.

New Rules: