Important new laws effective January 1, 2023, include:
Minimum Wage: The small-employer phase-in has ended. All California employers must comply with a minimum wage of $15.50 per hour starting January 1.
Exempt Employee Salary Threshold: For most “exempt” employee classifications, the employee must make at least twice the minimum wage. With the raise in the minimum wage, the exempt salary threshold is now $64,480/year ($5,373.33/month).
Agricultural Worker Overtime: Small agricultural employers (those with 25 or fewer employees) are still moving in stages toward “regular” overtime requirements. As of January 1, these employers must pay their employees overtime for hours worked over 9 in a day or 50 in a week.
Paid Sick Leave: As you know, an employee can take paid sick leave to care for family members (as defined). Employees can now also take paid sick leave to care for a “designated person,” which is defined as “any individual related by blood or whose association with the employee is the equivalent of a family relationship.” The designated person may be identified by the employee at the time the employee requests the leave. Employees are limited to identifying one designated person per 12-month period. (AB 1041)
California Family Rights Act: Similarly, an employee may now take leave under the CFRA to care for a “designated person.” (AB 1041)
Bereavement Leave: Employers with five or more employees must provide up to five unpaid days of bereavement leave upon the death of a “family member.”
Bereavement leave is unpaid unless the employer has an existing policy that provides for paid leave or if the employee has accrued leave, including vacation time or sick leave, which they may elect to use. Employers are permitted to request documentation. The bereavement leave does not need to be taken consecutively, but must be completed within three months of the death. (AB 1949)
Emergency Conditions: Employers may not prevent or take action against employees who have a reasonable belief that a workplace is unsafe due to an emergency condition and who, therefore, leave or refuse to report to that workplace (with exceptions for designated safety and health employees).
In addition, employers may not prohibit workers from using their mobile devices or otherwise communicating to seek emergency assistance, to assess the situation, or to verify the safety of another person.
An emergency condition is defined as a condition of disaster or extreme peril caused by natural forces or a criminal act; or an order to evacuate the workplace, a worker’s home, or a worker’s child’s school due to natural disaster or a criminal act. It does not include a health pandemic. (SB 1044)
Pay Transparency: Employers must provide the pay scale for a position upon reasonable request by an applicant. This information must also be provided to current employees upon reasonable request.
Employers with more than 15 employees must provide pay scale information in any job posting. Such employers using a third-party to announce, post, publish, or otherwise make a job posting, must provide the pay scale to the third-party and the third-party must use it in the job posting.
Employers must maintain records of job title and wage rate history for each employee throughout their employment and three years after employment ends.
Employers of 100 or more employees must submit a pay data report to the Civil Rights Department of the Business, Consumer Services, and Housing Agency, due on the second Wednesday of May each year.
Reproductive Rights: The list of “protected categories” of characteristics for which discrimination and harassment are prohibited has expanded to include reproductive health decision-making. (SB 523)