Nicole Rice

Governor signs bills to expand parental leave and prohibit previous salary inquiries

By Nicole Rice, Policy Director, Government Relations

Capitol Update, Oct. 16, 2017

During a press conference to promote women, families and children, Governor Jerry Brown signed two employment bills that further dictate the workplace rules of manufacturers.

SB 63 (Jackson, D-Santa Barbara) expands the entitlement of job-protected parental leave to small employers with 20-49 employees in a 75-mile radius. These small manufacturers would be required to grant up to 12 weeks of leave for bonding with a new child within the first year of birth, adoption or foster care placement. According to reports, SB 63 will cover approximately 2.7 million (or 16 percent) of the state’s workforce. Employers with 50 or more employees are already required to provide such a benefit under existing law.

SB 63 is more expansive than its predecessor (SB 654 Jackson) that was vetoed by the Governor in 2016 in that it mandates the provision of 12 weeks instead of six. Further, in his veto of the previous measure, Governor Brown suggested the law needed a process for mediating disputes to lessen the litigation impact on small businesses. Therefore, Senator Jackson amended into SB 63 a two-year mediation pilot program that unfortunately will not provide much of an option for small manufacturers. The intent is to allow an employer to request mediation before a suit can be pursued. However, according to the bill, if an employee elects not to participate in the mediation after receiving the employer’s notice of intent, the process is deemed “complete” and the right to sue is reinstated. Additionally, it is a termed pilot program (2 years) whose formation is contingent upon legislative appropriation. Even with funding granted, you really only have about one year, at best, before the pilot ends and the litigation exposure resumes. 

Governor Brown also signed AB 168 (Eggman, D-Stockton) ()that prohibits all employers from seeking salary history or relying on it as a factor in the hiring process. Employees may volunteer the information but without any prompting from the employer. Employers are also required to provide a job’s pay scale upon request by the applicant. California already has one of the strongest equal pay laws enacted in SB 358 (Chapter 546, Statutes of 2015) () that requires equal pay for substantially similar work and last year the Legislature and Governor approved AB 1676 (Chapter 856, Statutes of 2016) that prohibited employers from relying on salary history alone to justify a disparity in wage. The degree to which AB 168 can improve upon the effectiveness of these existing policies will remain to be seen.


Both bills were part of a nine-bill package supported by the California Legislative Women’s Caucus and opposed by CMTA and others because the bills expand employee benefits while imposing onerous and costly burdens on employers without making any reforms to provide more flexible working arrangements or reduce the risk of litigation that threatens manufacturing competitiveness in California.


These measures will take effect January 1, 2018.

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