California Sexual Harassment Training Deadlines Extended

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California Governor Gavin Newsom has signed emergency legislation extending to January 1, 2021 - the deadline for complying with some aspects of the anti-harassment training requirements adopted last year. The change gives employers another year before they must begin training non-supervisory employees (except for short-term employees), and smaller employers another year before they have to begin training their supervisors.

Employers in California having 50 or more employees (regardless of their location) must provide two hours of interactive sexual harassment prevention training and education within six months of a supervisor’s being hired or promoted into the role, and every two years thereafter. Last year, the law was amended to extend the training requirement in three main ways:

  1. Lowering the threshold to employers having 5 or more employees;
  2. Requiring training of non-supervisory employees; and
  3. Requiring prompt training of seasonal, temporary, and other short-term employees.

See our prior client advisory on this here. The amendments were to have been effective on January 1, 2020.

The newly signed emergency legislation does not change what is required, but allows employers more time to comply with some of the requirements. As a result, here is where things now stand:

Employer size January 1, 2020 January 1, 2021
50 or more employees  Continue to provide two hours of training to California supervisors within six months of being hired and every two years thereafter. Begin to also provide

(1) One hour of training to all non-supervisory California employees within six months of being hired and every two years thereafter.

5 or more employees Begin to provide training of unspecified duration to seasonal, temporary, and other employees hired to work for less than six months, within the first 30 calendar days after hire or within 100 hours worked, whichever occurs first. Begin to also provide:

(1) Two hours of training to supervisors in California within six months of being hired and every two years thereafter

(2) One hour of training to all non-supervisory employees in California within six months of being hired, and every two years thereafter.

The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing published a Frequently Asked Questions document with further details.

Practical Guidance on New California Sexual Harassment Training Laws

Because training requirements have a two-year cycle (other than for seasonal and temporary employees), employers should keep track of who is trained and on what date. The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing provides a certificate to do so.

Employers who are ahead of the curve and, for example, provide training to non-supervisory employees in 2020 will not have to do so again until 2022 (except for new hires).

Although the extension of the deadline comes as a relief, employers are not wise to postpone training employees. It is unlikely there will be another extension to comply, and planning ahead now will avoid a time crunch in late 2020.

Employers should not view training as “set it and forget it.” See our prior client advisories here and here about the benefits of a proactive approach and creating robust training program.

Sexual harassment prevention training and education is an opportunity to set the culture, and not simply check a legal requirement. Done right, an effective, customized training program tailored to the employer and industry, combined with practical follow-through enforcing policies, investigating claims, and taking action, prevents inappropriate behavior and fosters a congenial work environment and also reduces legal risk.

[View source.]

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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