Is your Business Ready to Implement California’s Employment Law Changes for 2023?

Is your Business Ready to Implement California’s Employment Law Changes for 2023?

California businesses should be aware of a number of new laws that will go into effect in the new year.

Supplemental Paid Sick Leave Extension. In light of the fact that COVID-19 continues to be a threat, AB 152 extends the California supplemental paid sick leave extension to the end of 2022. The law also permits employers to require a second COVID-19 test within no less than 24 hours of a positive test for SPSL purposes. The changes took place immediately on September 30th when Governor Newsom signed the bill..

COVID Exposure Notices. AB 2693 amended California Labor Code § 6409.6 to modify the state’s COVID-19 notification requirements. Now until the end of January 2024, California employers will have the option to post an online notice of possible COVID-19 workplace exposure instead of sending a written notice. Existing law requires a notice of the prohibition to be posted in a conspicuous location at the workplace. It made violating the prohibition or removing the notice a crime (with some exceptions). In addition, existing law requires that the prohibition be issued in a way that doesn’t materially interrupt the performance of critical governmental functions essential to ensuring public health and safety functions or the delivery of electrical power, renewable natural gas, or water. Plus, the law required that these provisions not prevent the entry or use, with the Division of Occupational Safety and Health’s knowledge and permission, for the sole purpose of eliminating the dangerous conditions.

Rebuttable Presumption. AB 1751 will extend previous legislation until January 2024. The previous law established a “rebuttable presumption” for outbreak conditions that warrant a “work-related exposure” and the required supplemental paid sick leave that follows. Employers are asked to send COVID-19 case information to workers’ compensation claims administrators. These provisions are effective until the beginning of 2024. Existing law creates a disputable presumption that the injury arose out of and in the course of the employment and is compensable, for specified dates of injury. Also, the existing law requires an employee to exhaust their paid sick leave benefits and satisfy specified certification requirements before receiving any temporary disability benefits or, for police officers, firefighters, and other specified employees, a leave of absence. The current law also makes a claim concerning a COVID-19 illness presumptively compensable after 30 days or 45 days, instead of 90 days. Finally, the existing law, until January 1, 2023, allows for a presumption of injury for all employees whose fellow employees at their place of employment experience specified levels of positive testing, and whose employer has five or more employees.

Pay Data Reporting. Effective January 1, 2023, SB 1162 expands a previous law to require additional pay data information from employers. California employers will be required to include the median and mean hourly rates for each job category by race, ethnicity, and gender to penalize non-compliant employers. Plus, if an employer has 15 or more employees, they’ll be required to include pay scales in all job listings and make that information available to current employees if they ask for it. Existing law requires a private employer that has 100 or more employees and is required to file an annual Employer Information Report (EEO-1) pursuant to federal law to submit a pay data report to the Civil Rights Department within the Business, Consumer Services, and Housing Agency that has certain employee information on or before March 31, 2021, and on or before that date each year thereafter. The existing law requires the information that must be included in the pay data report, including the number of employees by race, ethnicity, and sex in specified job categories. Also, the law currently requires employers with multiple establishments to submit a report for each establishment and a consolidated report that includes all employees. Finally, the existing law allows the Department to develop, publish on an annual basis, and publicize aggregate reports, provided that the aggregate reports are reasonably calculated to prevent the association of any data with any individual business or person.

“Emergency Condition” Exemption. Another law that will go into effect in January 2023 is SB 1044, which will allow employees to leave work or not attend during an “emergency condition.” An emergency condition is defined in the bill as “a disaster or extreme peril to the safety at the workplace caused by natural forces or a crime, or an evacuation order due to a natural disaster or crime at the workplace, an employee’s home, or their child’s school.” The law prohibits employers from retaliating against a worker for leaving work during an emergency. SB 1044 also prohibits employers from preventing any private or public sector employee from accessing their mobile device or other communications device to seek emergency assistance, to gauge the safety of the situation, or to communicate with others to confirm their safety.

Off-Duty Marijuana Use. As we have mentioned before in our News & Highlights, AB 2188 prohibits adverse action by employers based on an employee’s off-the-clock cannabis use. The new law also prohibits action if a pre-employment drug test finds non-psychoactive cannabis metabolites in an applicant’s blood, urine, or hair. However, California employers in the building, construction, and other “essential” industries are exempt from this rule. Also, exemptions for the new law would apply to workers in a ‘safety’ position, such as in the building and trades industry or law enforcement. Note that the new law goes into effect January 1, 2024.

Bereavement Leave. Effective January 1, 2023, AB 1949 will require California employers with five or more employees to provide up to five days of unpaid bereavement leave for an employee within three months of their family member’s death. Currently, the California Family Rights Act, makes it illegal for an employer to deny an employee’s request to take up to 12 workweeks of unpaid protected leave during any 12-month period for family care and medical leave. Also, the bill would require the Department of Fair Employment and Housing to expand the program to include mediation for alleged violations of these provisions.

Fast Food Industry Regulations. As we reported earlier this year, the Fast Food Accountability and Standards Recovery Act will go into effect by January 1, 2023. The new law creates a Fast Food Council within the Department of Industrial Relations to represent fast food workers. In addition, the council has the authority to raise the 2023 California minimum wage to $22 per hour.

If you have any questions, Danielle G. Eanet can be reached at Eanet, PC in Los Angeles, CA at danielle@eanetpc.com.

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