New Employment Laws in 2023

The new year has brought a set of new employment laws to California, including amendments to existing laws that impose more stringent requirements on employers. These new laws govern employee pay, discrimination, paid and unpaid leave, emergency conditions, and data collection.

Employee Pay

The effective minimum wage for California employees is increasing from $15 per hour to $15.50 per hour. In January of each year, the minimum wage will increase by the rate of change calculated the previous summer. Exemption levels for salaried employees are also increasing from $62,400 per year to $64,480 per year. Local ordinances may require higher wages than the state-mandated minimum wage and will remain in effect according to their own terms. Employers should always make sure that they are complying with all applicable wage laws.

Under Senate Bill 1162, disclosure requirements imposed by Labor Code section 432.3 are increasing, so employers who have 15 or more employees must now include a pay scale (defined as "the salary or hourly wage range that the employer reasonably expects to pay for the position") in all job postings - including postings by third parties. This is more rigorous than the previous law, which only required employers to provide pay scales to applicants upon reasonable request. The amended section 432.3 also prohibits employers from relying on the salary history information of an applicant in determining whether to employ that applicant or what salary to offer that applicant once hired.

Discrimination

SB 1162 also amends Government Code section 12999 to impose a requirement that employers who have 100 or more employees file an annual pay data report. The report must disclose the number of employees in each job category according to race, ethnicity, and sex, and it must contain the median and hourly rates for each combination of race, ethnicity, and sex within each job category. The reporting deadline for these reports is the second Wednesday of May of each year beginning in May 2023.

Under Senate Bill 523, employers are prohibited from discriminating against an applicant or employee on the basis of a reproductive health decision. According to Government Code section 12926(y), reproductive health decisionmaking includes "a decision to use or access a particular drug, device, product, or medical service for reproductive health." Employers are also barred from requiring applicants or employees to disclose information related to reproductive health decisions as a condition of employment, continued employment, or a benefit of employment.

Leave

Under Assembly Bill 1949 employers who have 5 or more employees are required to provide up to 5 days of bereavement leave after the death of an employee's spouse, child, parent, sibling, grandparent, grandchild, domestic partner, or parent-in-law. The leave must be taken within 3 months of the date of death, but all 5 days need not be taken in a row. If the employer already has a bereavement leave policy, the leave will be taken according to that policy; however, if no policy exists, the leave may be unpaid. In this case the employee has the option to use vacation or other compensatory time off in order to receive pay for the applicable days of leave. Employers are allowed to require documentation showing reasonable proof of death within 30 days of the employee's first day of leave, but employers must maintain employee confidentiality with regard to this documentation. Employers cannot discriminate against employees who exercise their right to bereavement leave.

Under Assembly Bill 1041, employees may take paid sick leave to care for a designated person, which is defined as an individual who is related to the employee by blood or who is the equivalent of a family member, such as a domestic partner. Such leave may be limited to caring for one designated person in a 12-month period.

Emergency Conditions

Senate Bill 1044 adds Chapter 11 to Part 3 of Division 2 of the Labor Code and prohibits employers from taking or threatening adverse action against an employee who refuses to work or who leaves the workplace during an emergency condition because of a reasonable belief that the workplace is unsafe. Emergency conditions include disasters or extreme peril to safety caused by crime or natural forces as well as orders to evacuate a workplace, a worker's home, or the school of a worker's child because of crime or natural disaster. Health pandemics are not included in the definition of emergency conditions under this SB 1044. These provisions do not apply to first responders, disaster service workers, and certain other health care and essential service workers.

Data Collection

The CPRA amends the CCPA to allow consumers to correct inaccurate personal information and to limit the use and disclosure of sensitive personal information collected by businesses, in addition to the pre-existing rights under the CCPA to delete personal information, opt-out of the sale of personal information, and know what personal information a business has collected and how it is used. "Business" is defined under the CCPA as a for-profit business that has a gross annual revenue of over $25 million; sells or shares personal information of 100,000 or more California residents or households; or derives 50% or more of its annual revenue from selling or sharing the personal information of California residents. The CCPA generally does not apply to nonprofit organization or government agencies, and service providers are subject to separate obligations under the CCPA.

In Summation

The new employment laws taking effect in 2023 provide more protections for employees and impose further requirements on employers. It is essential for an employer to understand the applicable laws and guidelines. If you would like to learn more about employee rights and employer regulations, contact us to schedule a consultation.