We hired an employee who is 15 years old. Are we required to provide sexual harassment prevention training to him? What if he will be working only during the upcoming holiday season?
In California, all employers who employ 5 or more employees are required to provide 1 hour of sexual harassment and abusive conduct prevention training to all nonmanagerial employees and 2 hours of training to all managerial employees by January 1, 2021.
In counting the number of employees to determine company size, the total number of employees in and outside of California is included; however, employers are required to train only those employees in California.
This training is designed to inform employees about what constitutes sexual harassment and abusive conduct, how and where to report it, company policy and the obligation to investigate, correct and take disciplinary action for violations. An employee who is a minor (under 18) must be included in that training.
There is no exemption in the law that would exclude any employee for any protected class basis (such as religion, sex, national origin or age). Neither is there any exemption for employees who are part-time, temporary or seasonal.
Training Focuses on Conduct
The focus of this training is not on sex education (as is taught in public schools), but rather on conduct that may occur in the workplace that would constitute sexual harassment and abusive conduct.
Training is required to protect employees from being subjected to such conduct. Certainly, a company would not want to exclude minors from such training, which may leave them more vulnerable because they would not know what to do about the harassment.
If anything, the state protects minors more by having child labor laws in place that protect them from work which is hazardous, regulates hours of work and requires that employers take responsibility for ensuring that minors are not exposed to hazards in the workplace and that they are protected.
As with all matters concerning minors, the parent or guardian should be notified that this training is required by state law for all employees and asked if they want to schedule a time when they could be present for the training. That should satisfy any concerns that a parent may have about what their child is being told about sexual harassment and abusive conduct.
For new hires, employers generally have 6 months to complete this training. However, since employers were provided with an additional year to train employees from the original compliance date of January 1, 2020, all employees must be trained by January 1, 2021. Training is required every 2 years thereafter.
After January 1, 2021, a new provision will be going into effect which requires that temporary employees be provided with this training within 30 days of commencing employment or 100 hours worked, whichever occurs first.
For any questions about this training requirement, contact the CalChamber Labor Law Helpline. For any concerns regarding minors and sexual harassment prevention training, contact your attorney.
The California Chamber of Commerce offers individual, self-paced training in English or Spanish. Available are both a 2-hour online supervisor version and a 1-hour online employee version. For more information, visit store.calchamber.com.
Column based on questions asked by callers on the Labor Law Helpline, a service to California Chamber of Commerce preferred and executive members. For expert explanations of labor laws and Cal/OSHA regulations, not legal counsel for specific situations, call (800) 348-2262 or submit your question at www.hrcalifornia.com.