Since 2019, all employers in California with five employees or more are required to provide sexual harassment prevention training to everyone. Re-training is required every two years for every employee.
It was a major overhaul from previous anti-sexual harassment laws in the state. Employers are obliged to keep up with the changes. Our comprehensive guide to California sexual harassment prevention training is designed to help organizations and their leaders stay in compliance with these laws.
Under the new California law, every employee is required to complete sexual harassment prevention training. Under previous iterations of state law, it was just supervisors who needed to train and keep up to date. Now, it’s all employees, for both the initial training and biennial re-training.
Non-supervisory employees must receive one hour of training while supervisory employees must receive two hours. Any temporary or seasonal employees must receive training within 30 calendar days of hire. Training is to be received within 100 hours worked if a person will be employed for less than six months. For workers placed through temporary services employers, that temporary services employer must provide the training.
California Senate Bill 1343 is the legislation requiring sexual harassment training for all employees by January 1, 2021. It includes a provision for training done in a group or individually. It also sets out that training can be done in shorter segments as long as the full hours are reached. The full SB law can be found here.
Assembly Bill 1825 is the previous regulation around California harassment prevention training, which SB 1343 modified. AB 1825 required training for supervisory employees only. It also only applied to companies with 50 or more employees. The assembly bill is located online here.
The goal of sexual harassment prevention training in California is to educate people, change behavior, and improve workplace culture. Anyone undergoing training should receive information about how to prevent sexual harassment and their workplace rights around harassment.
Under the new California sexual harassment training requirements, the training must include information on statutes and case law, steps employers can take to prevent harassment, and remedies for victims of sexual harassment. It must include practical examples, resources, details on what to do if a supervisor is accused, and information on obligations to report.
Training has to share the elements of an anti-harassment policy and how it should be used. There must be questions to assess learning to ensure the training is effective and has been retained. Also, the training must include harassment based on gender identity and expression, and sexual orientation. Sexual harassment training in California has to be interactive, with employees and managers able to ask questions of the trainer and receive feedback, whether it be online or in person.
California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a new bill that extends the deadline for sexual harassment prevention training under SB 1343. Employers now have until January 1, 2021 to complete the requirement.
Employers who last trained in 2017 under AB 1825 should train employees again to maintain the two-year cycle. This is especially important to know if only supervisory employees were trained under AB 1825.
As noted above, employers who do not comply with sexual harassment prevention training regulations may be compelled to do so. Any employer who is not compliant with either of these pieces of legislation risks a lawsuit. As the author of AB 1825, Sarah Reyes, said, the “best penalty is a plaintiff’s lawyer.” That being said, training employees does not provide protection against liability.
Beyond the fact that it is mandatory in California, sexual harassment prevention training safe-guards employees and employers. It also empowers anyone who experiences sexual harassment to report it and see results. Ideally, the entire work environment changes for the better.
Training gives employees the ability to work together, in a community, toward a goal of safety and responsibility. It provides accountability, ensuring everyone knows what is and is not acceptable. This positively impacts workplaces in many areas from recruitment and retention, to employee morale.
Free Powerpoint-type sexual harassment prevention training has one big advantage — it’s free! However, this means the employer has to find someone in-house who can deliver that presentation, including assessment questions. Remember, sexual harassment prevention training has to be interactive as well, with trainers responding to questions from trainees within a reasonable time.
Ultimately, that free training may actually come at the cost of a lot of work on the part of the person delivering it, making it not so free after all.