The New California Laws that Affect Your Small Business

Updated: May 6, 2019

2019 has kicked off with a series of changes in legislation that affect minimum wage, farmworker overtime, how businesses manage sexual harassment, sidewalk vendors, and more. Take a closer look at what these 2019 California laws are and how they impact your business.

Legislation changes can be confusing and hard to navigate. We are all doing the best we can to stay compliant and manage our businesses. Our policy team put together a high-level look at the California laws that are now in effect – here is an overview of what they mean and how to implement them!

SB 3: Minimum Wage Increase

Raises minimum wage from $11 to $12 an hour for employees of businesses with 26 or more employees, and from $10.50 to $11 for employees of businesses with 25 or fewer employees.

This applies to all industriesbut the ones that will be most affected are in retail, warehousing, food service, and delivery. Having a labor law consultant or attorney might be helpful here - luckily we have quite a few as members.


AB 66: Farmworker Overtime

Requires overtime pay for farmworkers who work more than 9.5 hours in a day or 55 hours in a week at farms with 26 or more employees

Philip Martin, UC Davis Emeritus Professor of Agricultural Economics, predicts that the phasing in of new overtime rules could impact larger farms that employ dairy workers, irrigators, and equipment operators in an interview with Capital Public Radio:

"They may opt to pay overtime for workers they’ve already trained to use expensive equipment, rather than trying to hire additional workers and implementing shorter shifts to avoid overtime..."


SB 946: Sidewalk Vendors

Prohibits criminal penalties for sidewalk vending while allowing local governments to regulate vendors.

In other words, we finally can get more street food! California has eased the process of street vendors getting permits and the types of punishments local jurisdictions can place on these California small businesses. Sacramento and Los Angeles have already started their permitting system.


AB 1976: Breastfeeding At Work

Requires employers to make private space other than a bathroom available for breastfeeding. The law previously required space other than a toilet stall.

And when they said other than a toilet stall, many places designated the bathroom – ew. Now, new working moms are given a designated private space other than a bathroom to pump and –if they work in agriculture – a shaded, enclosed space. This might be a bit tough for small businesses to offer, so possibly work with an HR consultant or your landlord to find a space that works!


AB 1885: "Straws Upon Request"

Customers at full-service restaurants must now request a single-use plastic straw if they want one. Restaurants can be fined for repeated violations.

This is a full on win-win. Save on the cost of straws and save the Earth. California restaurants are going to have a whole lot less trash in 2019.


AB 2184 (CalAsian Support): Identification for Licenses

Would require a city or county that issues business licenses to accept a certain identification number in lieu of a Social Security Number unless required.


AB 1741 (CalAsian Support): Cannabis Taxes

Temporarily exempts a person required to pay or collect cannabis excise or cultivation taxes from the requirement to remit amounts due by EFT (electronic funds transfer).


SB 1192: Kids Meal Drinks

Prohibits California restaurants that sell kids meals from offering soda or juice as the default drink option. Customers can request them if they want.


AB 626: Microenterprise Home Kitchens

Allows cities and counties to permit and regulate the small-scale sale of meals from home kitchens.

Home cooks can make $50,000 annually by selling 60 meals per week from their own home under former Governor Brown's Homemade Food Operations Act.If local jurisdictions, counties, or cities get onboard, they would offer permitting processes for these at-home micro-businessesand provide a pathway to small business ownership.But the law is set up with limits to test whether it is worth opening a restaurant. The operation must be inspected and registered within its home county, just like any other restaurant. It must also hold up to health, training, and sanitation standards.

You cannot use delivery apps or retailers either, which may pose a challenge for a resource-strapped small businesses.


AB 2770: Liability Protections

Protects employees who report sexual harassment allegations without malice from liability for defamation of the people they accuse. Also allows employers to indicate during reference checks whether an individual has been determined to have engaged in sexual harassment.

CalAsian will be providing training on how to look out for and manage issues of sexual harassment in the workplace later in the year – stay tuned.


SB 820: Nondisclosure Agreements

Bans nondisclosure agreements in sexual harassment, assault and discrimination cases that were signed on or after Jan. 1, 2019.


SB 1300: Non-Disparagement Agreements

Prohibits employers from forcing new employees or those seeking raises to sign non-disparagement agreements or waive their right to file legal claims. Those rights, however, could still be waived as part of a settlement — which often happens in exchange for a severance package.


AB 485: Pet Sales

Requires all dogs, cats, and rabbits sold in California pet stores to be obtained from animal shelters or rescue groups.


SB 1412: Criminal History and Applications for Employment

Current law generally prohibits consideration of an applicant’s judicially sealed or expunged convictions. SB 1412 will narrow an employer’s ability to consider sealed or expunged convictions to only those circumstances where a particular conviction would legally prohibit someone from holding that job.


SB 826: Board of Directors Equality

Requires that by December 31, 2019, a publicly held corporation, domestic or foreign, whose executive offices are located in California to have a minimum of one female director on its board of directors.


SB 1164: Craft Distillers

Raises the amount of spirits California's craft distillers can produce while also keeping craft distillers below the production levels of the larger brewers. The law also allows craft distillers to operate more like the state's wineries and breweries by giving them the opportunity to sell their products to visitors even when they do not taste the beer.


What We Took Away

These changes can be super overwhelming, but with the help of the CalAsian Chamber community and partners, they can be managed! Ultimately, we see big wins for labor, women's rights, and small business overall.


Which of these do you want to read more about? Let us know in the comments!

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