- Jan. 1 marked an important date for one California law affecting employment training in the state, and California employers are now less than a year out from another training deadline.
- The first law, SB-970, requires employers operating a motel or hotel in the state to provide at least 20 minutes of human trafficking awareness training and education to each employee who is likely to interact or come into contact with victims of trafficking beginning Jan. 1. The training may be delivered via classroom or "other effective training" methods.
- Another law, SB-1343, initially required California employers with five or more employees, including temporary or seasonal employees, to provide at least two hours of sexual harassment training to all employees in supervisory roles by Jan. 1. The law also required applicable employers to provide at least one hour of said training to employees in nonsupervisory roles by the same date. California Gov. Gavin Newsome has since signed into law SB-778, which extended the deadline for sexual harassment training to Jan. 1, 2021. Employers will then be required to conduct both sets of training every two years thereafter.
2020 is shaping up to be a critical year for training compliance efforts, particularly sexual harassment training requirements. States have implemented a growing number of sexual harassment training laws in the aftermath of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements.
Three such state laws had deadlines on Jan. 1, including California and Delaware, while Connecticut's new training requirements must be met by Oct. 1, 2020. Starting this year, employers with 15 or more employees operating in Illinois will need to provide sexual harassment training at least once a year.
A number of institutions have decided to voluntarily improve their training offerings. For example, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology announced in October 2019 that it would begin accommodating requests for in-person sexual harassment trainings in addition to online trainings already required of employees and incoming students.
Vendors are also adding more variety to this area of training: vendor Regatta VR said its platform is being used to place employees in scenarios that allow them to train on recognizing and preventing sexual harassment.
But past research from organizations including the American Psychological Association has shown few employers took steps to alter their approaches to preventing sexual harassment and assault, even amid greater social awareness of these issues. Sexual misconduct has negative impacts beyond a victim's physical and mental health — it can also reduce job choices and limit career development opportunities, according to research from the American Association of University Women.
Employers in industries that focus on travel may want to consider educating employees about human trafficking whether or not they're impacted by SB-970. Southwest Airlines has developed a training curriculum with online functionality in an effort to prepare its employees to identify illegal trafficking and take action when necessary.
Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated the California employer deadline for sexual harassment training. HR Dive regrets the error.