January 1st is often the date that employment laws enacted during the prior calendar year go into effect. While many new laws are widely publicized, others seem to slip by unnoticed until an employer is informed that it has violated some rule it never knew existed. Even worse, an employer’s obligations under certain laws are not fully identified until shortly before compliance is required. One such law that is causing a lot of confusion for California employers is the California Wage Theft Protection Act 2011 (the “Act”). Signed into law on October 9, 2011, the Act makes various changes to the California Labor Code including adding Section 2810.5. Section 2810.5 requires that starting on January 1, 2012, employers must provide all non-exempt California employees with a notice, given at the time of hire, which provides the following information:
- the rate or rates of pay and basis thereof, whether paid by the hour, shift, day, week, salary, piece, commission, or otherwise, including any rates for overtime, as applicable;
- allowances, if any, claimed as part of the minimum wage, including meal or lodging allowances;
- the regular payday designated by the employer in accordance with the requirements of the California Labor Code;
- the name of the employer, including any “doing business as” names used by the employer;
- the physical address of the employer’s main office or principal place of business, and a mailing address, if different;
- the telephone number of the employer;
- the name, address, and telephone number of the employer’s workers’ compensation insurance carrier; and
- any other information the Labor Commissioner deems material and necessary.
While the specific disclosures identified in Section 2810.5 seem fairly clear, the “any other information the Labor Commissioner deems material and necessary” requirement has created a number of problems. As mandated by the Act, the Labor Commissioner has provided employers with a form Section 2810.5 notice that can be downloaded from the Labor Commissioner’s website. However, the Labor Commissioner did not make the form notice available until the last week of December, 2011. Moreover, when the form notice was circulated, it became clear that the Labor Commissioner had added a number of disclosures not specifically identified in Section 2810.5. For instance, employers must also inform each new hire whether the employment relationship is governed by an oral or written contract and identify any other businesses or entities the employer uses to hire employees or administer wages/benefits. Since the Labor Commissioner did not issue the form notice until a few days before the new law went into effect, even those employers who knew about the requirements of Section 2810.5 were forced to scramble over the holiday weekend to revise their forms to make sure they covered all the information that had to be disclosed. Unfortunately, there are still many employers that do not know about the new information required by the Labor Commissioner or have no idea that non-exempt new hires must now be given the information discussed above. Given the risks associated with an employer’s failure to comply with the requirements of Section 2810.5, it is recommended that all employers discuss the new disclosure requirements with legal counsel and determine how best to proceed.
For more information about an employer’s obligations under California Labor Code section 2810.5, contact Mark Kruthers in Dowling Aaron Incorporated’sFresno office at (559) 432-4500 or Dan Klingenberger in Dowling Aaron Incorporated’s Bakersfield office at (661) 716-3000.