* January 1, 2018 – Note the update from the BSIS at the bottom of the article.

Private security laws in California are changing in early 2018.

While we were attending the annual conference of the California Association of Licensed Security Agencies, Guards & Associates (CALSAGA), we learned about some of these changes. (This conference, by the way, is chock-full of learning and networking opportunities -and made our not-to-be-missed list!)

While California has a reputation for having a lot of rules for businesses to follow, we firmly believe that if your organization has the right mindset and tools, California is also full of opportunities for business success. It is not called “The Golden State” for nothing.

We have listed below the legal highlights we gleaned from the conference sessions and discussions. Needless to say (but we will say it), we are not legal eagles. So yes, you should consult one, or a subject matter expert for up-to-the-minute tactics on how to manage some of these regulations. A number of them are quite complex.

Legal highlights

✓ Firearms Regulations

As of 2018, under the new law for private security SB1196 (Hill), applicants for a firearms license must pass an assessment test to show that they possess the “appropriate judgment, restraint, and self-control for the purposes of carrying and using a firearm…”

Fines for not following the rules have increased. For example:

  • Issues with employee logs, $500;
  • Not reporting a gun discharge within seven days, $1,000 or $2,500;
  • Using an armed officer without a full qualification, $2,500.

For more information, take a look at a previous blog post.

✓ Insurance

Security companies must carry $1 million in liability insurance and must list the Bureau of Security & Investigative Services (BSIS) as a certificate holder. As a result, the Bureau will be notified of any change to the policy.

✓ Negligence

While there is no change to “negligence” per se, it is important to stay focused on avoiding situations where you and your team could be negligent. That means staying on top of documentation, mitigation, and acknowledgment.

✓ Business Errands

Keep in mind the “going and coming” rule when employees are doing tasks for the employer. You could be liable for an accident if your employee is out and about at your request.

✓ Rest breaks

This topic stirred up much discussion. In short, employers must give on-duty rest breaks that are completely free of work.

IWC Wage Order 4 states, “Every employer shall authorize and permit all employees to take rest periods, which insofar as practicable shall be in the middle of each work period. The rest period time shall be based on the total hours worked daily at the rate of ten (10) minutes net rest time per four (4) hours or major fraction thereof.”

You should discuss this regulation with clients since it will obviously impact security officer accessibility onsite.

✓ More on rest breaks

You have surely heard of Augustus v. ABM Security Services, Inc., the historic ruling about rest breaks. The long and short of it is that an employee on meal break cannot be on-call. They are relieved of all duties during rest breaks, so they need to be free of all interruptions and cannot be forced to remain onsite. Furthermore, be sure to consider how to manage meal breaks as well.

Again, communicate this to your clients — some will not understand!

✓ Work week

The labor code already addresses the question of days worked in a row. An employer cannot require their employees to work more than six days in seven.

Thus, the employer must provide one day of rest each work week. An employer, though, can define their work week. (If they do not, the week is presumed to start at 12:01 a.m. Sunday and end on midnight the following Saturday.)

✓ Salary history

You can no longer ask about a candidate’s salary history! You must also provide the pay scale of a position when an applicant requests it.

✓ Statewide ban-the-box

Have more than five employees? Then you cannot ask about criminal conviction history on job applications. Furthermore, you cannot inquire about, or consider, it at any time before a conditional offer of employment has been made.

✓ Sexual harassment training

You must start providing harassment training for supervisors. It must be refreshed every two years if you have more than 50 employees. New supervisor hires have to follow a course within six months of hire.

✓ Possession and use of marijuana

Marijuana will be legal on January 1, 2018. Employers may still prohibit possession/use on the job or on company property. Employers may still drug test, as permitted by law.

Get professional advice

The above is neither a comprehensive list of the changed laws, nor legal advice. We simply want to flag issues that could affect the security services industry. Even this brief list, though, leaves a lot to ponder. Without the automation of certain back-office and operational processes, an organization will find it very difficult to comply with the law and avoid the risk of lawsuits, legal fines, and penalties.

So stay current with these regulations and get good advice!

Special thanks to the following speakers for sharing their presentation:

Gary J. Bradley COO/General Counsel, St Moritz

Anne L. Laguzza, M.A. President The Works Consulting

Barry A. Bradley & Jaimee K. Wellerstein, Bradley & Gmelich LLP


Senate Bill 547 (Chapter 429, Statutes of 2017) was signed into law by Governor Brown to extend the January 1, 2018 implementation date for the new assessment. Under the new law, the assessment will begin on a date to be determined by the Bureau but no later than July 1, 2018. The Bureau is continuing its efforts to secure a third party vendor to administer the assessment. Be assured that the Bureau will issue an interested parties email when a vendor is secured as well as notify BSIS certified firearms training facilities and instructors of the start date for the assessment.

You can review the changes made to the assessment start date in Business and Professions Code Section 7583.47 at http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=201720180SB547