California Harassment Prevention Changes Required by 2020

The #MeToo movement now has employers laser-focused on sexual harassment in the workplace. California has recently passed a new anti-harassment legislation, SB 1343 , which requires employers with five or more employees to provide sexual harassment training to all employees (supervisory as well as non-supervisory) by January 1, 2020. 

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The Changes

New legislation brings significant change from previous laws which have been in effect for over 10 years. The old rules call for employers with at least 50 employees to train only supervisors, and the required 2 hours of sexual harassment prevention training  must be within six months of hire date (or the employee beginning the supervisory position), and repeated every two years. 

The new rules change the requirements so that employers with five or more employees must provide sexual harassment training to all employees, regardless of whether or not they are supervisors.

Supervisors must receive 2 hours of training; non-supervisory employees must receive 1 hours of training. Temporary employees, part time employees, and independent contractors are included in the five employees threshold.

Employers have the option to conduct sexual harassment prevention training on an individual basis, or for groups of employees. The sexual harassment prevention training may be conducted along with other training, for example New Hire Orientation, and can be broken up into multiple sessions that total one or two hours according to the employee’s status.

California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing will release training materials that employers can use for supervisors and non-supervisors. It will still be acceptable for employers to develop their own training programs or choose to use other sexual harassment training modules.

Temporary or seasonal employees (hired to work less than 6 months) will have to participate in training, effective January 1, 2020. The employer must provide training within 30 days following hire date or before the employee has worked 100 hours, whichever occurs first. For temporary employees hired through a temporary agency, sexual harassment training will be the responsibility of the temporary agency.

The January 1, 2020 deadline means that California employers must not delay in making arrangements to set up this training for all employees in 2019.  California’s new anti-harassment laws impose serious penalties, and employers must comply. Training programs should ensure that employees thoroughly understand the definition of sexual harassment, what the law covers, how to report sexual harassment, and their specific company’s policy and reporting options. Additionally, supervisors must understand their role in prevention, handling complaints, investigations, and corrective actions.
 

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