Harassment Training Amendment (CA)

Effective January 1, 2021 for California Employers

The benefit of experience is practical understanding of what works and what doesn’t, combined with greater access to influence events.  In the last two years, I’ve embraced the fact that I’ve seen a lot in harassment and bias — from the employer perspective, employee perspective and the neutral partner perspective — and I have a very practical, nuanced understanding of what works and what doesn’t.  At the same time, I now find myself in the surreal position of having access to lawmakers and regulators that I simply did not have five years ago.  

Why am I mentioning all of this? Because, on behalf of Emtrain, our clients and the greater community, I’ve started leaning in and I’ve become a policy and regulatory advocate! I’m sharing our practical guidance and “lessons learned” with lawmakers and regulators – for everyones’ benefit!

Shorter training, conducted more frequently, works better than longer training that is conducted every other year. The former method has the chance to become a part of the established organizational norms and influence culture, while the latter (longer training every other year) typically becomes a “one and done” compliance activity that doesn’t change behavior or develop culture – or frankly stop bad behavior from escalating.

On September 25, 2020, I presented to California’s Fair Employment and Housing Council (FEHC) and advocated for a change in the regulations to allow California employers the opportunity to meet the sexual harassment prevention training requirements by training managers and employees every year, but with shorter training courses.

I’m happy to report the FEHC amended their regulation to provide that flexibility and the amendment will go into effect on January 1, 2021.

You can find more information on the amended regulation from FEHC:

For those of you who may not know, I was also the expert witness on and helped draft California’s SB 1343 (extending harassment training to all employees) back in 2018. Watch the video of my testimony on SB 1343.

What does this new amendment mean for you?

This amendment means that employers can now satisfy their 2-hour manager training and 1-hour employee training by training 60 minutes every year for managers and 30 minutes every year for employees. You don’t have to do it that way — but you now have that option.

Why should you train annually instead of biennially?

Explaining “the rules” every other year is a disconnect from the practical realities of the workplace, especially for something as important as preventing harassment and discrimination. It’s also not aligned with how people learn. People learn through repetition – small amounts of information – more frequently – until there’s a knowledge transfer and behavior change. By making harassment prevention training an annual activity, you have the opportunity to operationalize the messages and leverage the training program as part of a larger respectful culture strategy. Don’t train for the sake of training; leverage training to drive culture and behavior change.

Further, if you’re a multi-state employer, you’ve been trying to navigate different training cadences and requirements while tracking employees across locations. By training annually, you can sponsor one training program for all employees that meets all the states’ regulations – from California to New York.

We’ve got you covered! We’re launching a new Preventing Workplace Harassment course in January 2021 that is designed to support an annual, 60 minute training cadence (or 30 minutes for employees) and/or it can support the 120 minute bi-annual training cadence (for managers) if preferred.

If you have any questions about training requirements, or you’re interested in learning more about the next iteration of Preventing Workplace Harassment, contact us!

Janine Yancey
Founder & CEO Workplace Visionary
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