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California Sexual Harassment Training Extended

California Cleans up Sexual Harassment Training

On August 30, 2019, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed clean-up legislation (S.B. 778) clarifying the state’s sexual harassment prevention training and education law, particularly when mandatory training must be completed. The legislation was introduced February 26, 2019, and took immediate effect.

Why a Clean-Up Bill?

CA A.B. 1825, enacted in September 2004, made California a leader in workplace sexual harassment prevention training. Most recently, the law was modified by CA S.B. 1343, effective January 1, 2019, which expanded training requirements to include non-supervisory employees and required that all employees be trained in calendar year 2019. However, the law was confusing, and employers were scrambling to ensure their employees were trained by January 1, 2020.

Now What?

CA S.B. 778 took immediate effect and now, employers with five or more employees have until January 1, 2021, to provide both supervisory and non-supervisory employees with mandatory sexual harassment prevention training. In other words, employers may utilize calendar year 2020 to ensure they meet the state’s requirements. This also gives the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing the time it needs to develop its online training, also required by law.

What Training is Required Now?

The law specifies that by January 1, 2021, an employer with five or more employees must provide:

  • At least two hours of classroom or other effective interactive training and education regarding sexual harassment to all supervisory employees in California; and
  • At least one hour of classroom or other effective interactive training and education regarding sexual harassment to all non-supervisory employees in California.
  • Thereafter, each covered employer must provide sexual harassment training and education to each employee in California once every two years.

New supervisory employees still must be trained within six months of hire and employers may not wait until 2021, as this is an unmodified standard from the original A.B. 1825 law. Additionally, although S.B. 778 does not specifically address the six-month timeline and training new non-supervisory employees hired or promoted before January 1, 2021, it’s always in an employer’s best interest to err on the side of compliance. Therefore, a best practice is to also train non-supervisory employees who are hired or promoted before January 1, 2021 within six months of their starting the position.

What If I Provided Training in 2018 or 2019?

All good deeds go unpunished! The S.B. 778 clean-up clarifies that employers that provided compliant sexual harassment prevention training in 2018 for non-supervisory and supervisory employees are not required to retrain their employees in 2019, as was previously required under the language of S.B. 1343.

Rather, employers that provided 2018 training (compliant with the current standards) would continue to complete their refresher training and education in 2020. Additionally, employers that provided S.B. 1343-compliant sexual harassment training and education to employees in 2019 are not required to provide refresher training and education again until 2021.

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