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2023 California Employment Law Updates

This is a dry topic but one that is useful for employers and employees alike. Starting on January 1, 2023, the following employment law changes will take effect that will continue to expand rights of employees in California.

  • Expansion of CFRA and Paid Sick Leave to Cover “Designated Person” AB 1041: Government Code § 12945.2 (amended) & Labor Code § 245.5 (amended): Under the expanded law, an employee may take a leave of absence to care for any “designated person.” A “designated person” is any person identified by the employee whose association with the employee is the equivalent of a family relationship, regardless of blood or legal relationship. Significance: Recognizes ever-changing and expanding definitions of family. AB 1949 also requires that employers with five or more employees give workers up to five unpaid days of bereavement leave, available to employees who have worked at a company for at least 30 days.

  • All employers, regardless of size, must provide employees a minimum wage of not less than $15.50 per hour. Higher minimum wages are mandated in multiple San Francisco Bay area cities and counties, and in West Hollywood. See list here: Inventory of US City and County Minimum Wage Ordinances - UC Berkeley Labor Center. Under the same law, overtime-exempt employees must receive a salary that is not less than two times the state minimum wage, i.e., $31.00 per hour, the equivalent of $64,480 annually ($5,373.33 monthly).

  • SB 523 (“Contraceptives Equity Act”): Government Code § § 12920, 12921, 12926, 12940, 12993: Employers are prohibited from discriminating against an applicant or an employee based on their reproductive health decision making— defined as “a decision to use or access a particular drug, device, product, or medical service for reproductive health.” Employers will also be prohibited from requiring applicants or employees to disclose information relating to their reproductive health decision making. Note: Since “employer” does not include religious organizations, the reach of this provision is limited.

  • SB 1162 (Pay transparency): Requires employers with 15 or more employees to provide pay ranges when they announce, post, publish or otherwise make known an available job. History: In January 2018, California’s Equal Pay Act prohibited employers from asking applicants about their salary history and required employers to disclose the pay range for a position if the job seeker asks for it after the first interview. 1162 goes a step further and requires employers to post the pay range in advance. SB 1162 also creates enforcement measures for violations of pay scale disclosure of up to $10,000 per violation.

  • SB 1162 (Pay Data Reporting) Requires employers with 100 or more employees to report to the state pay data including the total number of workers broken down by race, ethnicity and sex who fall within each pay band used by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Within each job category, employers must include median hourly rate for each combination of race, ethnicity and sex.

  • SB 1044 (Emergency Situations): Prohibits employers, in the event of an emergency, from retaliating against any employee who refuses to report to, or leave, a workplace or worksite within the affected area because the employee has a reasonable belief that the workplace or worksite is unsafe. Employers are also prohibited from preventing employees from accessing their mobile devices for emergency help, assessing the safety of the situation, or communicating with a person to confirm their safety. These provisions are not intended to apply when emergency conditions that pose an imminent and ongoing risk of harm to the workplace, the worksite, the worker, or the worker’s home have ceased, and there are a variety of exceptions including health care workers, prison employees, police, and first responders.

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