As the fifth largest economy in the world, with 19 million people who are “employees”, what California employers do influences the whole country.

In 2005, California took a then progressive regulatory position in terms of requiring employers to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace. California passed AB 1825 requiring all employers with 50 or more employees to train their managers in sexual harassment prevention, every other year. Emtrain’s VP of Workplace Strategy, Patti Perez, served on the California regulatory agency that drafted the regulations implementing that rule and Patti co-authored those AB 1825 training regulations that still impact all California employers.

In 2018, in response to the #metoo movement, California once again took a leadership position and passed SB 1343. Emtrain founder and CEO Janine Yancey served as an expert witness to the state senate for that bill and helped modify the bill’s language to be more beneficial to both employers and employees. SB 1343 became law in September 2018 and it requires all California employers with 5 or more employees to train ALL employees every other year —not just management employees. Nonsupervisory employees must receive one hour of interactive training, and management and supervisory employees must receive two hours of interactive training. Both employees and managers must have the ability to ask questions of the harassment trainer and get responses back in two business days.

The Practical Impact of SB 1343

Starting in January 2019, millions of non-supervisory employees will begin to receive information about sexual harassment and information about their workplace rights. HR professionals have a choice. They can view the new regulation as yet another compliance requirement to meet—similar to hanging an employee rights poster up on a wall, OR, they can view the requirement as a catalyst to sponsoring a more holistic program to educate people, change employee behavior, and transform the workplace culture. We recommend the latter.

The average hourly rate in California in 2018 is $27.50. Obviously, the rate goes up if you employ knowledge workers. So if you have 1,000 employees, the business is already spending $27,500 (or more) in its labor costs to participate in the required training—before it even purchases or creates the training program, which is comparable to the labor cost. So the fully loaded cost of SB 1343 in an organization with 1,000 employees is approximately $55,000.00. Now… are you going to tell your CFO/COO that you’re not receiving any practical benefit or value from that $55,000 other than meeting a California requirement? If so, you MAY NEVER be viewed as a strategic business partner to the business.

The SB 1343 Opportunity

Strategic HR business partners will find ways to get value from that $55,000. Here’s the practical benefit: sponsor a sexual harassment prevention program that creates employee dialog, provides insights and analytics to employers on trending issues, and provides employers a tool to proactively manage its workforce culture. Sponsor Emtrain’s sexual harassment prevention program and get a solution that proactively manages your workplace culture WHILE meeting the regulatory requirement.

Rolling out a “check the box” sexual harassment prevention program to manage workforce risk is like trying to address diabetes through medicine alone without investing in a diet and lifestyle change that actually cures the condition; it’s penny wise and pound foolish.

If you’re going to spend the labor cost plus the training cost, you need to get a good return on the business investment so that your CFO/COO sees you as a rock star and the workforce believes you’ve given them an employee engagement tool—give them real value.

California Sexual Harassment Prevention Resources

Want to learn more about complying with California’s new sexual harassment prevention training mandates? Check out these California-specific sexual harassment prevention resources: