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Labour/employment law data for USA - California

1. Is it a legal requirement that employees must receive an employment contract ? No, however, certain employment situations can cause courts to imply contracts not to terminate employment other than for 'cause'
2. What factors constitute a fair dismissal i.e.legally justifiable reasons to terminate employment without the need to pay compensation? In the absence of a contract, employment may be terminated at any time for any reason, without any requirement to pay compensation. However, employers are at risk of liability for termination in certain cases, e.g. discrimination; in response to claims for compensation due to a work related injury or illness. Federal law requires at least 60 days notice of a 'mass lay off'.
3. What is good practice with regard to dismissal procedures to minimise the risk of claims for unfair dismissal? Employers should have a written policy acknowledged by the employee that employment is at will and may be terminated - therefore there are no specific practices.
4. If an employee is dismissed unfairly what is the financial range of compensation that can be made to employees? If there is an unlawful reason for termination, an ex-employee can obtain damages for back pay, and damages for future loss of earnings.
5. Do employees have the right to be members of a trade union? Yes, and under Federal and Californian law employees may not be fired for belonging to a union. NB. California has a 'closed shop' law. Some other states prohibit 'closed shops'.
6. Is there any legal requirement for an employer to contribute to a pension for employees? No, except for mandatory social security payments.
7. What are standard maternity rights? Federal law: private employers of 50 or more employees - up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave - no distinction between male or female. California law: private employers of more than 5 employees - up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave, but this can be aggregated with other time off benefits so that up to 28 weeks leave is possible (in a 12 month period). From July 1 2004 workers will receive up to 6 weeks of paid leave per year for childcare or care of an ill dependent. This programme is 100% employee funded.
8. What are parental leave rights (including paternity leave)?
9. When are employees eligible for redundancy payments? There are no legal requirements for redundancy payments, although many private employers have voluntary adopted plans.
10. What are the statutory redundancy payment limits?
11. Can existing employees be dismissed if you buy a business with employees? Yes, but there is distinction between asset and stock purchases, as in the latter case the employer is unchanged.
12. Any other general legislation? Federal and California law in relation to discrimination, wages and hours; conditions of employment.





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