Is San Jose’s Opportunity to Work Act coming to All of California?

June 9, 2017 Andrew Larsen

California is becoming a leading state in legislation that monitors the workplace. One new addition is the proposed “Opportunity to Work Act,” which is modeled after San Jose’s landmark law. The new bill, Assembly Bill (AB) 5, would require businesses with ten or more employees to offer any extra hours of work to current part-time employees before seeking temporary help or hiring additional staff.

This new bill would require extremely accurate timesheets in order to show compliance. The records would need to detail that additional help didn’t decrease the hours that current part-time employees receive. Other documentation showing that employers offered extra hours may be necessary as well.

As mentioned above, the proposed act mirrors San Jose’s Opportunity to Work Act which went into effect on Mar. 13. The major difference between the two is that San Jose’s one-of-a-kind law has an employee threshold of 35 whereas the proposed California bill is 10.

Proponents of the bill say that it will help prevent underemployment in California by giving part-time employees access to more hours. This in turn would protect the hours that part-time employees receive as well as give them the chance to earn a higher income to pay for living expenses in some of the nation’s highest cost-of-living areas.

Those in opposition to the law, such as San Jose Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce, say it limits the flexibility of employers and is unnecessary red tape on business.

If the statewide bill models actions taken for noncompliance after San Jose’s, then the first violation is penalty free. However, each penalty after incurs a $50 fine per day of violation as well payment for back wages and additional hours. Other costs, like legal and attorney fees, may also be applied. When an employee files a complaint, government offices will access a business’s payroll records to either vindicate or condemn the businesses.

While California lawmakers prepare the bill, they also say that they will be delaying proposing the bill for a time. This is because lawmakers first want to watch events unfold in San Jose. The successes and shortcomings of the law will be addressed as California lawmakers see fit when crafting their own bill. However, even as the state bides its time, local cities push forward with their own ordinances. Thus, businesses should review their payroll processes and ensure that they have accurate information to prepare for the bill as if it were already in place.


About the Author

Andrew Larsen

Andrew is the Marketing Communications Specialist for Zuman, the one solution for HR, payroll, and benefits administration that supports growing small to midsize businesses.

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