Heads-up, California employers! A new law has expanded sexual harassment training requirements in California, and there are action items for you.
This new law, SB 1343, is designed to prevent sexual harassment at work by requiring all California employers with five or more employees to provide appropriate training for the entire staff.
Previously, the state only required employers with 50 or more employees to provide sexual harassment prevention training—and only supervisors had to attend.
With SB 1343, your supervisory employees must attend two hours of training and the rest of the staff must attend one hour.
The requirements start applying to seasonal workers and temporary employees beginning on January 1, 2020. For new employees and current employees who get promoted, the deadline is January 1, 2021.
You’ll have to train new hires within six months of their start dates, and they need to get retrained every two years. For seasonal and temporary employees, training must happen within 30 calendar days or before the employee works 100 hours—whichever occurs sooner.
Gotcha. How do I train my employees?
You can choose to do the training in-house or pay someone else to train your workforce.
For in-house training, you can
- Create your own sexual harassment prevention training. (We’ll get to the details of this in a bit.)
- Use the California Department of Fair Employment & Housing (DFEH)’s online training materials, which DFEH is developing as part of the new law and is expecting to be online by late 2019.
- Use this DFEH toolkit along with a qualified trainer.
California considers the following folks as qualified trainers, so you may already have one on staff.
- Employment law attorneys who have been admitted to any state’s bar for at least two years
- Law school, college, and university instructors with a postgraduate degree or California teaching credential who have taught employment law for either 20+ hours or 2+ years
- HR professionals and harassment prevention consultants who have at least two years of experience in one of the following:
- Running discrimination, retaliation, and sexual harassment prevention training
- Responding to sexual harassment or discrimination complaints
- Investigating sexual harassment complaints
- Advising employers or employees about discrimination, retaliation, and sexual harassment prevention
Too busy running your business to take care of the training in-house? There are three major types of paid trainings that can help you out:
1. E-learning modules
These are self-guided trainings followed by a quiz.
With this option, you don’t have to worry about the logistics of live trainings. That makes it easier to train employees who are remote or frequently traveling for business. But e-learning modules can also be less engaging, and they’re not suitable for employees without computers.
E-learning training is generally the cheapest of the paid options, with costs typically between $10-$45 per employee.
Head’s up: If you choose e-learning modules, the law requires you provide contact information for a trainer who can answer employee questions within two business days.
2. Live on-site trainings
These in-person trainings can be designed to suit your company’s culture.
But they’re more expensive—often with a base price of approximately $1,200-$3,000 per session—and can be difficult to arrange logistically, especially if your workforce is divided across locations.
3. Live webinars
This third option offers the benefits of live on-site training and e-learning modules—but also bring the negatives of both.
Live webinars tend to be more expensive than e-learning modules (~$45 or more per employee) and less engaging than live trainings, and they can be difficult to schedule.
What are the California sexual harassment training requirements?
If you want to develop your own materials, or are trying to vet a training provider, know that the sexual harassment training laws in California require employees to learn the following:
- What sexual harassment is, according to California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This includes a discussion of gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation.
- The current statutes and laws prohibiting sexual harassment
- What conduct counts as sexual harassment, including practical examples
- What abusive conduct is, according to the California Government Code section 12950.1, subdivision (i)(2)
- How victims can seek remedy, including resources and information about the complaint process
- What makes an effective harassment policy and how employees can use it
- The strategies that help prevent sexual harassment
- Supervisors’ obligations to report any complaints, and how employers are required to respond
- What to do if a supervisor is accused of sexual harassment
To assess your employees’ understanding, you have to include discussion questions, skill-building activities, and hypothetical harassment scenarios.
Can I make employees pay for training or take it during their personal time?
No. You must allow employees to take training during work hours, and you must cover any associated costs.
What if I don’t train my employees by January 1, 2021 (or January 1, 2020)?
If you don’t comply with the law, your employees can register a complaint against you with DFEH. While the department may allow some leeway if their training course comes out later than expected or if you struggle to find a qualified trainer, a complaint is still a big deal.
If they believe you violated the law, they will intervene to ensure you’re training all employees correctly.