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  • Sarah Calfee

Where California HR Meets Everyone Else

Updated: May 2, 2019

Photo by Tim Gouw - Unsplash

As anyone knows who has worked in HR in California or with a company in California, California labor law is complex and is often more stringent than federal and other states’ law. If you aren’t in California, I suspect you have had quite a bit of frustration having to accommodate CA law and sometimes wonder if it is really necessary. If you are in California, I imagine you have had someone outside of CA express their doubt that they really must do what you are telling them.

On both sides, it can be a nuanced dance that involves a lot of toe stomping. Below are tips for both of you on how to keep the right frame of mind and avoid those toes.

Outside California HR

1) Don’t shoot the messenger. I know it is obvious, but it is easily forgotten - the HR people in California did not create the laws nor do they have a choice in following them, and neither do you.

2) Listen early and carefully when an HR professional tells you that the company is non-compliant with an existing or soon-to-exist law. The costs for non-compliance can be very expensive and employees tend to know their rights. Check out PAGA (Private Attorneys General Act) for a sense of the significance.

3) Leverage the knowledge of the CA HR professional when making any changes. Ask the CA HR pro to evaluate all HR-related changes for compliance before implementing them. If the changes are California driven, seek the HR pro’s input on best practices. They have likely done this before.

Inside California HR

1) Always remember that the people outside California are not familiar with our laws, which often seem ridiculous.

2) Be patient and be respectful that accommodating the CA laws may be difficult. Try to be part of the solution by coming to the table with best practices and suggestions on how to make any transitions smooth and the costs minimized. And, ignore the sighs and expressed frustration. It is not about you.

3) Stay abreast of where CA law differs from Federal law at all times. This intersection is where you will most likely need to recommend changes since most states match federal law.

Ultimately, everyone needs to remember that no matter the state, HR has the same goals. We are all trying to keep the company compliant while minimizing cost and supporting employees. With these tips in mind, no steel-toed boots will be required to protect your toes!


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