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California Extends Harassment Training Deadline from January 1, 2020 to January 1, 2021

On August 30, 2019 Governor Gavin Newson signed SB 778, which clarifies and extends the initial compliance deadline for California's harassment training requirements enacted in 2018. SB 778 extends the harassment training compliance deadline from January 1, 2020 to January 1, 2021 for most employers to train their supervisors who were not already subject to AB 1825 harassment training, and for employers with five or more employers to provide harassment training to non-supervisory employees.

This new extension means supervisors trained in 2018 will not need to be retrained in 2019, as they arguably would have been under the initial January 1, 2020 deadline. SB 778 further clarifies that moving forward, the prior two-year training timeframe will apply for non-supervisory employees and supervisory employees. This means any employees trained in 2019 notwithstanding the one-year extension will not need to be retrained until 2021, and then will only need to be trained every two years thereafter.

What are the New Clarifications?

SB 778 clarifies the following training requirements:

1. Extends the deadline for most employers to comply with the harassment training to January 1, 2021;

2. Supervisors provided with legally compliant training in 2018- whether to comply with the previously announced January 1, 2020 deadline or because they preferred to train earlier, will not be required to provide further training until two years thereafter;

3. Moving forward, employees must be trained once every two years;

4. Employees must be trained within six months of hire

Although SB778 extended the training compliance deadline under Government Code section 12950.1(a), it did not affect the training requirements applicable to seasonal, temporary or other employees hired to work for less than six months or to migrant and seasonal agricultural workers. While the employees covered by subsection (a) must now be trained by January 1, 2021, those employers subject to more industry specific subsections have to comply with their particular training requirements beginning January 1, 2020. While almost all employees in California will need training in 2020 (unless they were trained in 2019) to be compliant with the January 1, 2021 deadline, employers that are subject to more specific industry-specific requirements may need to provide training in the early part of 2020 to meet the specific time frames that are applicable for them (i.e. within one-hundred (100) hours or the first thirty (30) days of employment worked for temporary, seasonal or other employees hired to work less than six months).

What Do These Clarifications Mean for HR Professionals and Employers?

1. Extra time to train if needed. This does not preclude employers from providing harassment training in 2019, as originally contemplated, in which case the employer will not need to provide a refresher training until 2021.

2. No Need to Train in 2019 if Training Occurred in 2018. SB 778 specifies every two-year training previously under AB 1825 will apply to SB 1343 training for both supervisors and non-supervisors.

3. Deadline to Train Non-Supervisors. Non-supervisory employees must be providing harassment training within six months of hire, which in essence mirrors the requirement that supervisory employees be trained within six months of becoming a supervisor, whether it be a promotion or new hire.

This information should not be intended, nor should it be used, as a substitute for specific legal advice as legal counsel may only be given in response to inquiries regarding situations. For more information, please free to contact an attorney at Sagaser, Watkins & Wieland PC at (559) 421-7000.

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