New legislation around California's mandated reporter laws will have a major impact on businesses throughout the state. Effective January 1, 2021, select human resources professionals and some supervisors in California will now be considered mandated reporters.
California is a leader in the charge to include more professional groups as mandated reporters. Recently, several other laws have passed to further expand the list of who is required to report, including:
- AB 189, making autism service providers and professionals reporters.
- AB 1207, which requires the Department of Social Service to provide information and training to providers, administrators, and employees of daycare facilities to help report child abuse and neglect.
- AB 1432, requiring school districts, county offices of education, state special schools and diagnostic centers, and charter schools to annually train their employees on their reporting duties.
Now Assembly Bill (AB) 1963 joins this list of changes, making it all the more urgent that organizations throughout the United States keep abreast of the changing legislation and have a plan in place to ensure their staff gets any necessary training. Learn more about what AB 1963 changes and how it will impact your workplace.
How California Bill AB 1963 Will Impact You
What does AB 1963 change?
The California Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Law, originally adopted in 1980, identifies certain individuals as mandated reporters of child abuse and neglect. Since it was initially passed, this law has been amended several times, including to identify new groups as mandated reporters. A new amendment, AB 1963, was recently signed into law by Governor Newsom.
As of January 1, 2021, certain HR employees will be considered mandated reporters to help protect youth in the workplace. According to the author of Assembly Bill (AB) 1963, "California has millions of minors who are in the workforce… When the employee is a minor, the same conduct that violates an employer's sexual harassment policies may also be child abuse…"
This groundbreaking legislation will help protect teens in the workplace by ensuring that human resources professionals and supervisors are required to report suspected child abuse.
To qualify, the human resources employee must be employed by a company that a) has at least 5 employees and b) employs minors. For the purposes of this legislation, a human resources employee is defined as an individual designated by their employer to accept complaints made under California's Fair Employment Act.
Additionally, front line supervisors for companies with more than five employees who employ minors are required to report sexual abuse. A supervisor is defined as an adult whose job requires direct contact with and supervision of individuals under the age of 18.
It's important to understand the difference in the reporting requirements for human resources employees and supervisors:
- Human resources employees are mandated reporters of all suspected child abuse or neglect.
- Supervisors are only required to report sexual abuse unless they are acting in another capacity that would make them a mandated reporter. If they are otherwise required to report, this does not limit their duties.
Sources: Data USA, the California Employment Development Department
What does AB 1963 require of employers?
AB 1963 creates tens of thousands of new reporters in California, impacting businesses throughout the state. Because many of these individuals may not have been trained to report before, the bill specifically requires employers to provide training to anyone with reporting duties. This training should include information on the identification and reporting of child abuse and neglect.
Employers should know that this training requirement may be met by completing the general online training for mandated reporters offered by the California Department of Social Services.
What does the bill require of employees?
Human resources employees and front line supervisors who have become mandated reporters under this change will need to know how to identify and report suspected child abuse and neglect.
These new reporters will need to know their state's requirements on what to report. The California Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act requires "a mandated reporter, as defined, to report whenever they, in their professional capacity or within the scope of their employment, have knowledge of or observed a child whom the mandated reporter knows or reasonably suspects has been the victim of child abuse or neglect."
Failure to report as required is considered a misdemeanor in California, punishable by up to 6 months in county jail, a fine of $1,000, or both.
How does this change to California's mandated reporting law impact me?
The requirements outlined in this legislation and the steep consequences of failing to report make it imperative that supervisors and human resources employees impacted by AB 1963 receive training.
California is currently leading the nation with this move to further protect children in the workplace, so watch for similar legislation in other areas. Whether you live in California or elsewhere, make sure you know the best way to get the appropriate training. Find training in your state.