How has the mandate to report suspected child abuse and neglect changed under Assembly Bill (AB) 1963? What are the new training requirements?
Several new laws have taken effect as of January 1, 2021, (and some in late 2020), many of which were related to COVID-19; and the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) expansion was also a major development. However, one law that didn’t get much attention was AB 1963 regarding mandatory reporting of child abuse.
The California Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act (CANRA) was adopted in 1980 and makes individuals of certain occupations “mandated reporters” under California Penal Code Section 11165.7. These individuals are required to make formal reports of suspected child abuse and neglect to law enforcement authorities.
Some of the more well-known categories of individuals mandated to report suspected child abuse and neglect include child care providers, school personnel, medical professionals and law enforcement.
The list of who is a mandated reporter under the law has grown over the years, and AB 1963 is the latest expansion that now includes human resource (HR) employees and certain supervisors working for a business having five or more employees and employing minors.
AB 1963 applies to employers with five or more employees and employing minors, and there are two categories of employees within such organizations now labeled “mandated reporters” under the law:
- “Human resource employees,” defined as any employee designated by the employer to accept any complaints of misconduct (i.e., discrimination, harassment, retaliation, etc.) made under California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act; and
- A person whose duties require direct contact with and supervision of minors’ duties in the workplace.
Covered supervisors’ reporting obligations are limited to instances of sexual abuse; however, HR employees are not subject to this limitation and must report all types of child abuse and neglect.
Covered employers must provide their employees who are mandated reporters with training in both identifying and reporting child abuse and neglect.
The training requirement may be met by completing the general online training for mandated reporters offered by the Office of Child Abuse Prevention in the California Department of Social Services.
Employers with five or more employees that employ minors should quickly familiarize themselves with the obligations of the CANRA so they can meet their legal obligations pertaining to HR employees and covered supervisors.