Sexual harassment and discrimination is a constant presence in America’s workplaces. The recent #MeToo movement has brought even more attention to sexual harassment in the workplace. California, being at the forefront of workplace protections has made the decision to pass new anti-sexual harassment laws this year. Jerry Brown recently signed Senate bill 1343 which now requires all employers in California with at least five employees to provide sexual harassment prevention training to all employees by January 1st, 2020. This includes both supervisors and non-supervisory employees. This is a dramatic change from the previous requirements which had been in effect for over a decade.


Let’s discuss the key points of Senate Bill 1343 and how you can ensure your company stays in compliance with the new laws:


  • Under the previous law, it required employers with at least 50 employees or more to provide supervisors only with two hours of sexual harassment prevention training. This new law requires that employers with only 5 or more employees must train both supervisors and non-supervisory employees on sexual harassment prevention training.


  • Supervisors have stricter training requirements than regular employees. California employers with at least 5 employees must provide a minimum of 2-hours of Sexual Harassment Prevention Training to all supervisory employees.  However, non-supervisory employees are only required to take a minimum of 1-hour of sexual harassment prevention training.  This is because supervisors have additional duties when it comes to sexual harassment complaints such as having the obligation to report any harassment, discrimination, or retaliation immediately. In addition, supervisors need to be strongly familiar with the essential elements of an anti-harassment policy, including the supervisor’s role in the complaint procedure.


  • Sexual Harassment Prevention Training must occur within six months of the employees hire date and be renewed every two years.


  • All employers with 5 or more employees must train their staff by January 1st, 2020.


  • Sexual harassment prevention training may be conducted either individually or as a group.


  • Online Sexual Harassment Prevention Training courses are acceptable and can be done on the employees own time. Before the new laws were put in place, a supervisor had to complete the 2-hour Sexual Harassment Prevention Training in one sitting but now with this new bill that was passed employees are able to break the training up into shorter segments and can come and go as they need as long as they meet the overall time requirement (2-hours for supervisors; 1-hour for regular employees).


  • Part-time, temporary employees and independent contractors count toward the minimum employee count of five employees. Beginning January 1, 2020, for seasonal and temp employees, or any employee that is hired to work for less than six months, an employer should provide training within 30 days after the hire date or within 100 hours worked, whichever occurs first. If a temporary employee employed by a temporary services employer is to perform services for clients, the training must be provided by the temporary services employer, not the client.


  • The new law also states that employees that were trained in 2018 must be retrained in 2019. This training can be done at any time in the 2019 calendar year as long as it is before December 31st, 2019.


How to comply with the new sexual harassment prevention laws:

Sexual Harassment training must meet the needs of your particular workplace, as well as the type of employee being trained. Employees that are trained need to understand what sexual harassment is, what the law requires, how to report an incident, and what your company’s policy and reporting procedures are. Supervisors will need additional information such as handling employee complaints, investigating those complaints, and corrective actions. Interactive training can be beneficial in meeting your company’s prevention goals because it can help explain any grey areas in the requirements that supervisors often struggle with. You can check out Hazmat School’s online Sexual Harassment Prevention Training Course here.

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