As 2019 comes to a close and the new year is on the horizon, it’s important for employers to be cognizant of the requirement to ensure all of their employees are properly trained on sexual harassment prevention. On August 30th, the Governor of California, Gavin Newsom, signed SB 778 which provided some updated guidance regarding California’s Sexual Harassment Prevention Training requirements and extended the deadline for compliance. Here’s what you need to know to ensure your practice remains compliant.
What Is SB 778?
Coined the “Clean-up” Bill, (Senate Bill) SB 778 is a law providing updated guidance regarding Sexual Harassment Prevention Training requirements in California and serves as an amendment to SB 1343. The new law has extended the deadline for compliance training from 1/1/2020 until 1/1/2021, giving practices an additional year to provide training to their workforce. In addition to extending the deadline, SB 778 has also clarified several ambiguities in SB 1343.
Who Needs to Be Trained?
If you’re an employer with five or more employees, all of your employees need to receive sexual harassment prevention training by 1/1/. Now, let’s break down the groups of employees because there are different training requirements for different groups of employees.
- Supervisory employees
- Non-Supervisory employees
- Temporary employees
- Temporary employees from a temporary employment agency
Supervisors, due to the role that they’re in, have the heftier training requirement. Individuals in a supervisory role must complete a minimum of two hours of training and education pertaining to sexual harassment prevention. The law has also clarified that those who are promoted from a non-supervisory role to a supervisory role must be trained within six months of their promotion to supervisor, for the full two-hour training session. Those who are in a non-supervisory role will only require one hour of training and education relating to sexual harassment prevention.
Temporary employees are defined as those that are hired to work for a period of less than six months. Yes, you are still required to ensure your temporary employees receive training and are compliant. Employers must provide one hour of training and education regarding sexual harassment to temporary employees within 30 days after their hire date, or within their first 100 hours worked.
Now, if you’ve hired a temporary employee through a temporary employment agency, you are NOT required to provide sexual harassment prevention training to them. The agency is required to provide training to the temporary employee.
How Should Training Be Conducted?
Here’s where you have a little flexibility. The training can be conducted in a traditional classroom setting, through E-learning or even a webinar. You can schedule training for a group of employees or as an individual and could even break it down into shorter time segments. For example, for supervisory employees, you could hold a two-hour session, one-hour sessions or even break it down into 30-minute segments, so long as the full amount of training is completed by the specified date. However, the caveat here is that you must provide the training during work hours and not during the employee’s personal time. For instance, you would not be able to conduct training during an employee’s break. You as the employer are responsible for not just conducting the training during paid work hours but are also liable for any expenses that may arise from the training. Click here to find a list of trainings in your area.
Here’s another clarification provided by SB 778. When SB 1343 was released, supervisors that were trained in 2018 would need to be retrained on Sexual Harassment Prevention in 2019 to be in compliance with the 1/1/2020 deadline. The new law and deadline allow that supervisors who were trained in 2018 do not need to be retrained until 2020 to be compliant. Non-supervisory employees that received training in 2019 do not need to be retrained until 2021.
Employer Documentation Requirements
In addition to the training, California employers must also have a written harassment, discrimination and retaliation prevention policy and provide each employee a copy. This can easily be accomplished by updating and distributing the employee handbook. Employers must also post any and all required notices from the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH). Finally, you’ll need to provide each of your employees, at the time of hiring, a sexual harassment information sheet.
To go along with training, you must also maintain documentation for a minimum of two years regarding the training you have provided to your employees. Here’s a list of everything you’ll need to keep in a safe space:
- Names of the employees trained,
- The date the employee received training,
- The sign-in sheet,
- A copy of all certificates of attendance or completion issued,
- The type of training conducted,
- A copy of all written or recorded materials that comprise the training,
- And the name of who led the training.
Again, these records must be maintained for a minimum of two years from the date of training.
Planning and Preparing for Compliance
Wow, that was a lot to take in. So, let’s get down to the bottom line. What do you need to do to be in compliance with the new law?
- Schedule training for all employees.
- Update your employee handbook as well as all relevant policies and procedures to include a written harassment, discrimination and retaliation prevention policy that reflects the current law.
- Post all required notices from DFEH.
- Keep accurate records from all iterations of training.
When you break it down into those steps, it’s a bit easier to digest. Don’t worry. There may be a lot of work in the coming days, but you can at least breathe a little bit easier with the deadline being extended for another year.
HR for Health is one of the nation’s leading Human Resources Management Systems (HRMS) used by small to mid-sized practices. HR for Health has provided the following complimentary articles to ensure you have a game plan when addressing complex HR matters.
Quick note: This is not to be taken as legal or HR advice. Since employment laws change over time and can vary by location and industry, consult a lawyer or HR expert for specific guidance. Learn about HR for Health's HR services