California Issues Revised Notice Template and Additional FAQs for Wage Theft Prevention Act

The California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) has issued a revised notice template and additional Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) to assist employers in complying with the state’s Wage Theft Prevention Act employee notice requirements.  The revised template and the new FAQs, which are effective April 12, 2012, can be downloaded here.

The Wage Theft Prevention Act of 2011 requires California private-sector employers to provide each newly hired, non-exempt employee with a written notice that contains specified information.  See our previous posts of October 20, 2011 and February 7, 2012 for a detailed discussion of the notice requirements.

Most of the changes reflected on the new template appear to be fairly minor, but there are at least three substantive changes/clarifications that deserve mention:

First, the new template clarifies that when a staffing agency hires an employee, it is the staffing agency, and not the staffing agency’s client for whom the employee is assigned to perform work, that is responsible for issuing the notice to the employee.

Second, whereas the previous template inquired whether the “employment agreement” is written or oral, the new template simply inquires whether there is a written agreement regarding “the rate(s) of pay.”  Apparently some employers were confused by the previous language, believing (wrongly) that acknowledging the existence of any agreement, oral or written, might make it difficult to defend the at-will status of the employee.

Third, the new template makes it clear that an employee’s signature in the “Acknowledgment of Receipt” portion of the notice is optional, and that if the employee does sign, the signature merely constitutes acknowledgment of receipt.

Fortunately, the new FAQ No. 27 provides that if an employer has already issued a notice to an employee using the old form, and there have been no substantive changes to the information contained on the old form, the employer need not issue a new notice until there is a substantive change to the previously-provided information.

California employers should make sure that the individuals in their organizations who exercise responsibility for preparing and issuing notices to new hires are aware of the revised template and the new FAQs.  In addition, employers who have chosen to create their own notice forms (as opposed to using the template provided by the DLSE) should review their forms to make sure they are consistent with the DLSE’s new guidance.

Aaron Buckley – Paul, Plevin, Sullivan & Connaughton LLP – San Diego, CA


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