Wednesday, April 20, 2011

2011 Changes in Contractor Labor Laws Pile on the Construction Industry Burden

Don't expect the construction industry in California to climb out of its slump anytime soon, especially if lawmakers in California have anything to do with it! Changes in 2011 to the California labor laws simply increase costs for business in a state struggling to regain footing in a devastated economy. Every dollar that goes into compliance with the law is a dollar not going to hiring. For example, requiring independent roofing contractors to pay for workers compensation when they do not have employees is absurd.  The following list of 2011 labor Changes is from the California Chamber of Commerce, linked above:

Roofer Dayton OhioWorkers' Compensation for Roofing Contractors  AB 2305 extends the requirement that contractors with a C-39 roofing classification obtain and maintain workers' compensation insurance, even if they have no employees. This requirement was set to expire on January 1, 2011, and is now extended until January 1, 2013. Additionally, after January 1, 2011, any active license will be suspended if the C-39 roofing classification was removed and the licensee is found to have employees and lack a valid certificate of workers' compensation insurance.
Workers' Compensation Stop Orders SB 1254 authorizes the registrar of contractors to issue a stop order (effective immediately on service of the order) to any contractor (licensed or unlicensed) who failed to secure workers' compensation coverage for his/her employees. Additionally, employees affected by the work stoppage must be paid by the employer for lost time, up to 10 days, while the employer seeks to comply with the law.

Failure to observe the stop order is punishable by a misdemeanor (up to 60 days in county jail) and/or a fine of up to $10,000. The legislation also implements a means by which the employer may protest the stop order and request a hearing on the matter.
Organ and Bone Marrow Donor LeaveCalifornia employers with 15 or more employees must now provide the following paid leaves to employees who choose to donate organs or bone marrow:
  • Organ donors — must be provided a 30-day (workdays) leave of absence in any one-year period
  • Bone marrow donors - must be provided a leave of absence up to five workdays in any one-year period
The statute says that such leave does not run concurrently with the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). However, state law cannot override federal law. Therefore, leave for the purpose of donating bone marrow or an organ may run concurrently with FMLA if the employer is a covered employer and the employee is eligible for FMLA.
Heat Illness Regulations RevisedA revised heat illness standard went into effect November 4, 2010. In addition to revisions related to shade and other safety precautions, the new standard includes changes to training requirements for both supervisory and nonsupervisory employees. Such training is now required to be given before employees begin work that "should reasonably be anticipated to result in exposure to the risk of heat illness."
Wage Claim Appeal — Bond RequirementAccording to AB 2772, an employer filing an unpaid wage claim appeal must post a bond with the court, in the amount of the judgment rendered in the administrative hearing. Employers must also provide written notification to the other parties and the Labor Commissioner of the bond posting.
AB 569 — Exemptions to Meal BreaksThis new law exempts construction workers, commercial drivers, certain security officers and employees of electrical and gas corporations or local publicly owned electric utilities from California's meal break requirements if those employees are covered by a valid collective bargaining agreement containing specified terms, including meal period provisions.
Investigating Serious Safety ViolationsA revision to the California Labor Code establishes new procedures and standards for an investigation of a serious violation in the workplace and establishes a rebuttable presumption as to when a serious violation has been committed by an employer.

Under previous law, a serious violation was "deemed to exist if there was a substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a violation." The change creates a "rebuttable presumption that a serious violation exists if Cal/OSHA demonstrates that there is a realistic possibility that death or serious physical harm could result from the actual hazard created by the violation."
Health Clubs and DefibrillatorsUnder current law, health clubs must acquire an automatic external defibrillator and meet specific training and maintenance standards. Under current law, when a health club uses an automatic external defibrillator, the owners, managers, employees or others are not liable for civil damages resulting from an act of omission in the course of rendering emergency care/treatment.

The new law eliminates that exemption if health club members have access to the facility during hours that trained employees are not in the facility. For facilities larger than 6,000 square feet, members must be denied access to the facility if a trained employee is not present.


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  2. As the supervision and reporting requirements became more onerous, the plaintiff objected and, eventually, requested a new contract that clarified his status as an independent contractor. The company refused and stated that it intended to convert all sales positions to employees, eliminating all independent contractor positions. When he refused to make the conversion to employee status, his contract was terminated.