California Approves Use of Web-Based Training

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San Francisco — Aug. 22
The finalized regulations interpreting California’s trend-setting sexual harassment prevention training law, AB 1825, which the Legislature enacted in 2004, are now in effect.

The law, which covers employers with 50 or more employees in California, requires all California supervisors to complete two hours of sexual harassment-prevention training every two years.

The finalized regulations now specify the functions and content that Web-based training programs can provide to be legally defensible and fully compliant.

In 2005, the first training year, the law was silent regarding whether Web-based training would satisfy employers’ AB 1825 training obligations, so many employers opted for traditional instructor-led training.

“I spoke to many human resources professionals at the end of 2005 that had literally spent months traveling around the state to train thousands of employees,” said Lynn D. Lieber, an employment law attorney and CEO of Workplace Answers Inc., a San Francisco-based online training company.

Now, employers must now ensure their sexual harassment prevention training programs comply with the final regulations for the 2007 training year and beyond.

The AB 1825 regulations mandate that Web-based training programs must be developed and created by “experts,” defined as attorneys, human resource professionals or instructors with specified employment law-related credentials.

“It is critical to choose a vendor who knows the law, and not someone who created courseware just to capitalize on the AB 1825 requirements,” Lieber said.

The AB 1825 regulations also specify that supervisors must spend a full two hours in training.

“The Fair Employment and Housing Commission (FEHC), the state agency responsible for the regulations, really investigated the feasibility of the two hour time requirement,” Lieber said. “We were asked to consult with the FEHC and demonstrate our technology solution that tracks individual progress.”

Web-based training also fulfills the regulations’ rules that require employers to keep — for a minimum of two years — detailed records of supervisory training.

Workplace Answers provides companies with a hosted learning management system, SLATE, that records all required documentation and makes it accessible with the click of a mouse.

SLATE also automates registration and reminder e-mails, and it enables easy management of the required training for newly hired and promoted supervisors.

Many employers now actually prefer Web-based training to in-person training for AB 1825 compliance.

It provides consistent training across dispersed locations, documents employee completions and policy review, and it saves on the valuable travel and work time in-person training requires.

“A large employer — even one with thousands of supervisors — can have them all complete a Web-based program in a matter of weeks, not months,” Lieber said. “Now, there’s a really compelling legal argument that Web-based training is the best solution.”

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