Please note: This article is not legal advice, nor does it contain every detail or requirement of the applicable laws: it is provided solely for informational purposes and is not intended to be relied upon. If you have questions about these laws, please consult your legal counsel.

In recent years, California has taken big strides to combat workplace harassment — particularly sexual harassment — by implementing strict training requirements for employers. The goal of these regulations is to create safe and inclusive work environments by ensuring that employees are know their rights and responsibilities.

Understanding these requirements is crucial for employers to comply with the law and create a harassment-free workplace. Below, we’ll dive into the specifics of California’s sexual harassment training requirements, and offer guidance for businesses like yours operating in the state.

Understanding California’s legal framework

California’s legal framework surrounding sexual harassment training is governed primarily by the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) and Senate Bill 1343 (SB 1343). These laws mandate that employers with five or more employees provide sexual harassment prevention training to all employees, including temporary and seasonal workers, within six months of hire or promotion and every two years thereafter.

For seasonal, temporary, or other employees working fewer than six months, an employer must provide training within 30 calendar days after the hire date or within 100 hours worked, depending on whichever occurs first. If an employee doesn’t work 30 days or 100 hours, training won’t be required.

Key components of sexual harassment training in California: FAQs

Who is required to provide sexual harassment training in California?

Any employer with five or more employees must provide sexual harassment prevention training to all employees, including temporary and seasonal workers.

How often is sexual harassment training required in California?

Employers must provide sexual harassment prevention training to their employees two years.

What does sexual harassment training in California have to include?

The training needs to cover a number of topics, including the definition of sexual harassment, examples of prohibited conduct, the employer’s internal complaint process, and the legal resources available to victims. Additionally, training should address bystander intervention techniques and emphasize the importance of creating a respectful workplace culture.

These training sessions can be conducted in person, online (like Ethena‘s!), or through other interactive formats, as long as they meet the statutory requirements. California allows for multiple styles of training to be used, including classroom, webinar, and e-learning.

To make training as effective as possible, examples should be tailored to your industry and workplace.

How long does sexual harassment training in California have to be?

California law requires that sexual harassment training last a minimum of two hours for supervisory employees and one hour for non-supervisory employees.

With modern work schedules and decreased attention spans (we get it, the internet is distracting!), it’s helpful to know that training doesn’t need to be conducted in one session and can be completed over the course of multiple sessions, as long as the cumulative amount of time is met.

Need sexual harassment training for employees in California? Check out our state-specific harassment prevention course trailer.

Am I required to maintain documentation?

Yup. Employers are required to maintain records of completed sexual harassment training for a minimum of two years, including the names of participants, dates of training, and copies of training materials. Certification of training completion should be provided to employees upon finishing the program.

What else do I need to know?

We’re glad you asked!

California employers are also required to develop a harassment, discrimination, and retaliation prevention policy. The policy should — among other things — be in writing, list currently protected categories, outline the complaint process, emphasize confidentiality, and reinforce the importance of fair and timely investigations.

Employers must distribute both an information sheet on sexual harassment and the company’s policies by one or more of the following methods:

  1. Printed in hard copy, along with an acknowledgement form
  2. Emailed, along with an acknowledgement form
  3. Posted on the company’s intranet, along with a tracking system to ensure employees have read and acknowledged the policies. This can sometimes be done from e-learning training or HRIS platforms
  4. Included in new-hire orientation

Employers must also display, in a prominent and accessible location, a poster developed by California regarding transgender rights.

These policies should be distributed and discussed multiple times over the course of the year to ensure everyone fully understands and retains the information.

Compliance challenges and best practices for California employers

While California’s sexual harassment training requirements are designed to promote safety and prevent harassment, compliance can (and often does) present challenges for employers. Some common hurdles include ensuring that training content is engaging and relevant, scheduling sessions to accommodate employee schedules, and tracking training completion for all team members.

To navigate these challenges effectively, employers in California can adopt the following best practices:

  1. Interactive training methods: Incorporate interactive elements like as quizzes, case studies, and group discussions to enhance engagement and facilitate knowledge retention among employees.
  2. Tailored training: Customize training content to address the specific needs and concerns of different employee groups — such as frontline workers, remote employees, and managers.
  3. Regular refreshers: Supplement biennial training requirements with periodic refresher courses or updates to make sure that employees stay informed about evolving legal standards and best practices.
  4. Leadership commitment: Demonstrate leadership commitment to a harassment-free workplace by actively participating in training sessions, reinforcing organizational policies, and fostering open communication channels for reporting harassment concerns.

The final word

Compliance with California’s sexual harassment training requirements is essential for employers to create safe, inclusive, and legally compliant workplaces. By understanding the legal framework, launching effective training programs, and prioritizing a culture of respect and accountability, businesses can reduce risks, nurture employee well-being, and ultimately enhance organizational success.

Remember, compliance isn’t just about meeting legal obligations — it’s about creating a workplace where everyone feels valued, respected, and empowered to succeed.