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New online sexual harassment prevention training option for California employers

Employees must complete training by Jan. 1, 2021

May 27, 2020 25645

Employers in California have a new option for providing legally required anti-sexual harassment training to their employees by the Jan. 1, 2021, deadline. The free online training, launched May 20 by the Department of Fair Employment and Housing, satisfies the requirement under California law.

Employers in California have a new option for providing legally required anti-sexual harassment training to their employees by the Jan. 1, 2021, deadline.

The free online training, launched May 20 by the Department of Fair Employment and Housing, satisfies the requirement under California law that employers with five or more employees provide at least one hour of sexual harassment prevention training to their nonmanagerial employees. Managerial employees require at least two hours of training under the law and must also complete the training by Jan. 1, 2021, but they are not covered by the DFEH’s online training program.

Part-time and temporary workers as well as independent contractors must be included toward the minimum count of five employees. However, employers should not train properly classified independent contractors.

Senate Bill 1343 signed into law in 2018 by Gov. Jerry Brown created the training mandate with the Legislature at that time concluding that millions of employees in the state may not be aware of their rights and responsibilities under California anti-harassment laws and may not understand how to detect and report inappropriate behaviors. The deadline to provide training was set for January 2020 but legislation introduced in 2019 and signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom extended the deadline to Jan. 1, 2021.

Newly hired employees must complete the training within six months of hire or promotion, and all employees must complete training every two years, at minimum, following the initial training.

Employees hired after Jan. I, 2021, who received training by a previous employer need only be required to read and acknowledge receipt of the employer's anti-harassment policy within six months of assuming the new position. Employers should obtain a copy of the employees’ prior training certificate and track retraining from that date of completion. The burden of establishing that the prior training was legally compliant is on the current employer.

Also, the deadline extension for training did not apply to seasonal and temporary workers who as of January 2020 should already be completing the required training as described, unless those employees can provide a certificate of recent prior training.

The law provides that the training can be conducted in person, online or via webinar; however, with the statewide social-distancing directive still in place during the COVID-19 pandemic, employers and employees may prefer online training through the DFEH or another training provider.

Currently, the DFEH training program is offered only in English but “will be available in five additional languages in the coming months,” the DFEH press release states. The training can be completed on a desktop computer or mobile device.

Access or learn more about the DFEH’s new online sexual harassment prevention training.

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