Tidying up the Harassment Training Mess – Deciphering the Training Requirements for Janitorial Workers

Employers in the janitorial services space have an untidy mess on their hands when it comes to deciphering the requirements for providing harassment prevention training for their employees. Companies who employ workers in the capacity of a janitor* have multiple laws governing the harassment prevention training requirements for these workers and their supervisors. Currently, there are two primary harassment prevention training laws governing employers of janitorial workers:

  • SB 1343 which amended California Government Code Sections 12950 and 12950.1 – As most California employers are now aware, the sexual harassment training requirements were amended effective January 1, 2019, to require all California employers with five or more employees to provide a minimum of one hour of harassment prevention training to all employees and two hours of required training for all supervisors every two years. Training was initially required to be completed by January 1, 2020, but the deadline has been extended to January 1, 2021. (See some of our past blogs for additional information: Harassment Training is a Requirement for Every Employer, and Good News for Employers!)
  • The Property Service Workers Protection Act of 2016 – This law preceded SB 1343 and created the requirement that all employees working as janitors and their supervisors receive a minimum of two hours of sexual violence and harassment prevention training every two years. The law states that the required training was to be completed as of January 1, 2020, and that the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) was to finalize training protocols by January 1, 2019; however, to date, the DLSE has failed to issue final regulations.

We don’t know all of the ways that the final DLSE training requirements for janitorial workers will differ from the requirements outlined in SB 1343, but we do know this much:

  • Training must be interactive, and in-person – Unlike SB 1343 which allows for forms of on-line training, covered janitorial employees will have to receive live, in-person training from a qualified trainer.
  • Two-hour duration – Nonsupervisory janitors will be required to receive an extra hour of training compared to other types of nonsupervisory workers.
  • Sexual violence – This will be a new layer of content that must be addressed.
  • Resources for victims – The training must identify local, state, and national resources for victims of sexual violence and harassment (e.g. community-based rape crisis centers).
  • Language – The law specifies that the training must be provided in the “language and literacy level” understood by the covered employees.

How should employers ensure compliance with both laws? First, recognize that if you have at least five employees, SB 1343 covers all of your employees, including janitorial workers and their supervisors. Whereas, the Property Service Workers Protection Act will apply additional training requirements specific to janitorial workers and their supervisors. Until the DLSE issues final training requirements, janitorial employees must be provided with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing’s Sexual Harassment pamphlet (DFEH-185). Additionally, they must also receive training that complies with SB 1343 by January 1, 2021 even if the DLSE has not finalized the janitorial training protocols. Therefore, it does not necessarily mean that it’s a good idea to hold off on training until everything is ironed out perfectly. Remember that effective education and communication are an employer’s best chance at preventing workplace harassment lawsuits in the first place, so deferring training isn’t always the best option. The good news is that The Property Service Workers Protection Act specifies that training can be provided in one hour increments, so even if these employees receive one hour of training under the SB 1343 requirements, the second hour of training incorporating any elements specific to janitorial workers could be done in a separate second hour session once the final requirements are published.

*As the term, janitor, is defined in the Service Contract Act Directory of Occupations maintained by the United States Department of Labor.