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New Year, New Employment Laws in California

Emanuel Shirazi

Heads up Californians. Beginning January 1, 2023, several new employment laws and changes will take effect in California. Here are a few highlights:

Minimum Wage Increase

Effective January 1, 2023, California will increase its minimum wage to $15.50 per hour and an increase in the salary for exempt employees to $64,480. Local jurisdictions may have higher minimum requirements. If you are a salaried employee of any type in California and making less than $64,480 per year, you are most likely misclassified as a matter of law.

California Family Rights Act (CFRA) Extension

The CFRA will now encompass employees taking CFRA leave for a “designated person.” Under the CFRA, a “Designated person” is defined as “any individual related by blood or whose association with the employee is equivalent of a family relationship” and includes domestic partners. Employers may limit an employee to one designated person per 12-month period. This law only applies to employers with five or more employees.

California Paid Sick Leave (“PSL”) Extension

California’s PSL will also be extended to include employees taking paid sick leave for a “designated person.” Under the PSL, “designated person” is defined as “a person identified by the employee at the time the employee requests paid sick days.” Employers can also limit an employee to one designated person per 12-month period under PSL.

Bereavement Leave Law Requirement

Another new year requirement will be five days of unpaid bereavement leave to employees who have worked for the employer for at least 30 days. Bereavement leave is permitted for the death of a qualifying family member, including a spouse, child, parent, sibling, grandparent, grandchild, domestic partner, or parent-in-law as defined in the CFRA. The five days can be taken anytime within three months of the family member’s passing. Employers may require documentation proving the death of the family member. However, employers must maintain confidentiality related to the bereavement leave. Employees may use unused, accrued vacation time to cover any portion of the bereavement leave.

FEHA Extension to Protect Reproductive Health Decision-Making and Cannabis Users

This new year, the Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”) will add an employee’s reproductive health decision-making as another protected category. As a result, it will be illegal for employers to discriminate, harass, or retaliate against an employee based on their reproductive health decision-making. Reproductive health decision making is defined as “a decision to use or access a particular drug, device, product, or medical service for reproductive health.”

Also, under FEHA, it will be illegal to discriminate against an employee based on their cannabis use off the job and away from the workplace. This includes employers not being able to take adverse actions against employees for non-psychoactive cannabis metabolites found in an employee’s body through a drug test. This new law will not however prevent an employer from taking adverse action against an employee who is found to be in possession of, using, or impaired by cannabis while working. The law will not apply to employees in the building and construction trades and does not apply to applicants or employees hired for positions requiring federal background investigations.

Pay Data Transparency and Reporting Requirements

Effective January 1, 2023, employers with 15 or more employees must include the pay scale range in all job postings (whether posted by the employer or a recruiter). Also, all employers are required to give pay scale information for an employee’s current position upon request.

Employers with 100 or more employees will need to provide a detailed pay data report to California’s Civil Rights Department every May. Employers who fail to comply, will be subject to penalties.

Protections During “Emergency Conditions”

Starting in the new year, employees will be able to refuse to go to work during an “emergency condition.” This would be defined as “conditions of disaster or extreme peril to the safety of persons or property at the workplace or worksite caused by natural forces or a criminal act.” The law would exclude health pandemics, and employees required by law to render aid or remain on the premises in an event of an emergency, health care employees providing direct patient care and residential care facilities’ employees are excluded from this new law.

This law appears to be inspired by recent events where Amazon employees were ordered to be at work during a natural disaster causing many to be seriously injured or killed.

If your employer violates these protections in the new year, or any other employment law violations, Contact us today by calling us at (310) 400-5891, for your free intake.

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