Amid the challenges of COVID-19 and a growing demand to improve diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace, HR professionals should be aware of approaching sexual harassment training deadlines.
Whether employees are onsite or working from home, employers are responsible for meeting state and local sexual harassment training mandates. Currently, this includes California, New York, Illinois, Connecticut, Maine, Delaware and Washington State (for certain industries) — with several deadlines coming up soon.
Here’s a snapshot:
Deadline: January 1, 2021, and then every two years
California employers with 5 or more employees must train all employees and supervisors by Jan. 1, 2021, and then every two years. Supervisors must complete at least two hours of sexual harassment prevention training, and non-supervisory employees must complete at least one hour of training.
- Seasonal and temporary employees must receive one hour of training within 30 calendar days or 100 hours, if they work for less than six months.
- New hires must receive training within six months of their start date.
- Employers should retain training records for a minimum of two years.
- In addition, a new law required hotels and motels to train employees on human trafficking awareness by January 1, 2020, and then every two years.
Deadline: Dec. 31, 2020, and then annually
Under Illinois’ Workplace Transparency Act all employees must complete sexual harassment prevention training by Dec. 31, 2020. This includes short-term and part-time employees and interns. The Illinois Department of Human Rights also recommends training independent contractors who are working at an employer’s workplace or interacting with staff.
- Illinois restaurants and bars need to provide sexual harassment training with specific material relevant to the restaurant or bar industry.
- All licensed professionals regulated by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) need to complete 1-hour of sexual harassment training annually to fulfill the continuing education requirement.
Deadline: Feb. 9, 2021 (as extended by Executive Order)
Under the Time’s Up Act, all Connecticut employers are required to provide two hours of interactive sexual harassment training to supervisors by Feb. 9, 2021 (as extended by Executive Order), or within six months of an employee taking on a supervisory role. Organizations with three or more employees must provide two hours of training to all employees. This represents a big change from the previous law, which only applied to employers with 50 or more employees and mandated that only supervisors be trained.
Employers are encouraged to keep training records for a minimum of one year.
New York State
All employees must be trained at least once per year
Since Oct. 9, 2019, NY State requires all employers in New York to conduct sexual harassment training for all workers on an annual basis. This includes part-time, temporary and seasonal workers, regardless of their immigration status.
- The training must be interactive, require some level of employee participation and may be web-based.
- Employers should provide employees with training in the language spoken by their employees.
- Employers are encouraged (not required) to keep a copy of training records and a signed acknowledgment that employees have read the organization’s sexual harassment prevention policy.
New York City
All employees must be trained each calendar year
- In addition to complying with NY State training requirements, NYC employers with 15 or more employees have other requirements under the Stop Sexual Harassment in NYC Act.
- Employers must train independent contractors if they work more than 80 hours in a calendar year and for at least 90 days.
- Training must explain how to engage in bystander intervention.
- Training records must be kept for a minimum of three years.
All employees must be trained within one year of hire
Delaware employers with 50 or more employees are required to provide interactive training and education to all employees and supervisors within the first year of their start date, and then every two years.
Supervisors must receive additional training on their responsibilities to prevent and correct sexual harassment and retaliation, and then be retrained every two years.
All employees must be trained within one year of hire
Maine employers with 15 or more employees must provide training to all employees within one year of hire. Supervisory and managerial employees must recive additional training on their specific responsibilities to address complaints of sexual harassment.
Employers must keep training records for at least three years.
A new law in Washington State that went into effect Jan. 1, 2020, requires hotels, motels, retailers, security guard entities and property-services contractors to train employees on preventing sexual assault, sexual harassment and sexual discrimination in the workplace.
Employers must also educate their workforce on the protections for employees who report violations of a state or federal law, rule or regulation.
Beyond the Checklist
Effective sexual harassment training involves more than just checking off a list of requirements. It should raise awareness of the different forms of harassment and the consequences of misconduct through relevant content, video scenarios and stories that focus on behavior. Training should also explore topics that shape workplace conduct and culture, such as diversity and inclusion, unconscious bias and bystander intervention. And with more employees working from home, training should be easily accessible online and mobile optimized for smartphones and tablets.
HR and training leaders should be aware of deadlines for employees to complete sexual harassment training before year end. For employers with state and local training mandates — and those without — this is an opportunity to take a different approach, one that drives positive behavior and actions and promotes a workplace culture of respect, diversity and inclusion.