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Wednesday, 07 December 2016 22:56

New California Laws That Can Impact Your Shop

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Every year without fail, hundreds of new laws are enacted that will impact automotive repair shops throughout the state of California.

From huge MSOs all the way to little mom and pops in tiny towns, these laws have the potential to influence body shops everywhere if they don't adapt to them or adhere to them.


Below is a list of some of the key measures that will take effect in 2017, unless otherwise noted. Jack Molodanof of Molodanof Government Relations, who has been representing the California Autobody Association (CAA) for 25 years, has offered his take on each new law and how they can affect your business.


Minimum Wage Increase: Effective January 1, 2017, the minimum wage for employers with 26 or more employees will increase to $10.50 per hour. The minimum wage for employers with 25 or fewer employees will increase to $10.50 in January of 2018. (SB 3)


"Since most technicians, estimators and painters customarily make considerably more than minimum wage, this law isn't going to affect shops in most cases," Molodanof said. "Maybe for some detailers or porters, this law can impact their incomes to a degree. Additionally, remember that if you don't provide the proper tools to any employee, you will have to pay them twice the minimum wage."


Lead Acid Battery Fee: Beginning April 1, 2017, a $1.00 California battery fee is imposed on a person who purchases a replacement lead-acid battery from a retail dealer (includes auto repair dealers). The dealer will be required to separately state (line item) the California Battery Fee on all invoices and collect the $1.00 fee. The Battery fee will be submitted to the Board of Equalization on a quarterly basis, similar to the current California tire fee. The dealer will also be required to accept used lead acid batteries without charging a fee. The retail dealer of batteries is also required to provide written notice regarding the California Battery Fee and refundable deposits; however, the notice requirements do not apply to an auto repair shop that does not sell lead-acid batteries directly to consumers (over the counter) but instead removes nonfunctional/damaged batteries as part of an auto repair dealer service. (AB 2153).


"We always had concerns with this bill," Molodanof said. "This law is a direct response related to the 2013 series of events at the Exide Technologies battery plant that contaminated an estimated 10,000 homes in southern California with hazardous waste derived from batteries. This new law will mandate a $1 fee for each such battery sold for placement into the Lead Acid Battery Cleanup Fund."


Tow Truck Requirements: This new law makes a series of changes to provide relief to last year’s bandit tow truck law (AB 1222). Current law requires a business taking possession of a vehicle from a tow truck to document the name, address and telephone number of the towing company, the name and driver’s licenses number of the tow truck operator, the make, model and licenses plate or vehicle ID number and the date and time that possession was taken of the vehicle. This new law allows the business to accept the operator driver’s license number or driver’s identification number issued by a motor club or other government authorized unique identifier of the tow operator. If the business is taking possession of the vehicle from tow truck when the business is closed, the business must document reasonable efforts made to obtain the required information. (AB 2167)


"This law provides relief by allowing shops to accept a government authorized unique identifier or motor club driver’s identification number," Molodanof said. "This way, they don't have to present their driver's licenses as identification, which is an identity theft protection issue for the drivers. This law protects shops, tow companies and consumers alike, because it documents the transaction and provides full accountability."


Automotive Windshield Replacement: This new law requires that automotive repair dealers (includes sublets) to use windshields that meet or exceed Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards and vehicle manufacturer specifications when replacing windshields and to use adhesives that meets or exceeds manufacturer specifications. Auto repair dealers shall provide an estimate notifying the customer that the installation of the windshield will prevent the operation of the vehicle for a period of time (due to cure time) and whether the windshield is an OEM or non-OEM manufacturer part. The invoice shall notify the customer of the cure time, the date and the time upon which the installation was completed and whether the windshield is an OEM or non-OEM manufacturer part. (16CCR 3365.1)


"This law allows shops enough time to let the adhesives cure during the installation process so that customers would not be left in the dark and the windshields will not leave a shop until they are safe and correctly installed," Molodanof said.

Counterfeit and Nonfunctional Airbags: This new law increases penalties for any person who knowingly manufactures, imports, installs, reinstalls, distributes, sells or offers to sell any device intended to replace a supplemental restraint system with a counterfeit supplemental restraint system component or a nonfunctional airbag as defined. (AB 2387)


"The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported in 2015 that more and more counterfeit airbags have been discovered as replacement parts in vehicles that have been involved in crashes, thereby leading to this law," Molodanof said. "This one is fairly common sense. If you buy an airbag on eBay or Craigslist for $50, you can be fairly certain that it is not the real thing. Counterfeit airbags are obviously a major safety issue and now the penalties for selling them are tougher, which is good."

Criminal History in Applications for Employment: This law prohibits employers (in addition to existing laws) from asking applicants to disclose, or from utilizing as a factor in determining any condition of employment, information concerning or related to “an arrest, detention, process, diversion, supervision, adjudication, or court disposition that occurred while the person was subject to the process and jurisdiction of juvenile court law.” (AB 1843)


"In the past, employers could go back and look at employees' or applicants' juvenile records, but those will now be sealed," Molodanof said. "This was sponsored by the Juvenile Court Judges of California and the idea behind this law is that people should not have to pay for things for their entire lives that they may have done as juveniles. This does not affect adult criminal records that are still available to employers that want access to them."


Single-User Restrooms: Commencing on March 1, 2017, this new law requires all single-user toilet facilities in any business establishment, place of public accommodations or government agency to be identified as all-gender toilet facilities. (AB 1732).

"If your facility isn't open to the public, this law does not apply to you," Molodanof said. "It's not like with a restaurant where a restroom is required by law. In this case, you will likely only have to change some signage on your restroom to adhere to this new law."


Smoking in the Workplace: A new set of laws were passed during the middle of the year (June 9, 2016) which increased the smoking age from 18 to 21; included electronic cigarettes and expanded the prohibition of smoking of tobacco products inside an enclosed place of employment. The law now applies to all employers regardless of size, including where the owner-operator is the only employee (i.e. owner-operated business). (ABX2-7)


"This law was designed to some degree to deal with e-cigarettes, because they are new and many business owners don't know how to deal with them," Molodanof said. "Now, it is prohibited to vape inside a shop and that also includes customers. It's a health issue, and even if you're okay with smoking in your business, the state is not."

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