As 2023 draws near, so does a slew of new laws and regulations that will affect California businesses.
Every year, a raft of bills are passed by the state Legislature and signed into law by the governor. The end result is another round of new laws that employers need to stay on top of.
This article is the first of two parts and below we highlight the first half of the top 10 laws and regulations affecting businesses in the new year.
1) Pay disclosure
This sweeping law in part requires more disclosure of pay information by employers. Under current law, employers are required to provide the pay scale for a position upon reasonable request by a job applicant. SB 1162 goes a step further by:
- Requiring employers, upon request by a current employee, to provide the pay scale of the position they are employed in.
- Requiring employers with 15 or more workers to include pay scale in any job postings for open positions.
- Requiring employers to maintain records of job titles and wage rate history for each employee while employed for the company, as well as three years after their employment ceases.
Note: The law defines “pay scale” as the salary or hourly wage range that the employer “reasonably expects” to pay for the position.
Penalties range from $100 to $10,000 per violation. The Department of Labor Standards Enforcement will repeal the fine for first violations if the employer can show that all of its job postings have been updated to include pay scale information. This law takes effect Jan. 1, 2023.
2) Employee treatment during state of emergency
This new law, SB 1044, bars an employer, in the event of a state of emergency or an emergency condition, from taking or threatening adverse action against any employee for refusing to report to, or leaving, a workplace within the affected area because they feel unsafe.
Also, employees would be allowed to leave work regardless of existing health and safety standards and regardless of whether or not the employer has provided health and safety protections.
Under the measure, workers could also walk off the job during an “emergency condition,” which is defined as:
- Conditions of disaster or extreme peril to the safety of persons or property caused by natural forces or a criminal act.
- An order to evacuate a workplace, worksite or worker’s home, or the school of a worker’s child due to a natural disaster or a criminal act.
SB 1044 also bars employers from preventing employees from using their mobile phones to seek emergency assistance, assess the safety of the situation or communicate with another person to confirm their safety.
The law, which takes effect Jan. 1, 2023, does not cover first responders and health care workers.
3) Cannabis use and discrimination
This law bars employers from discriminating in hiring, termination or other conditions of employment based on employees using cannabis while off duty.
The bill’s author says the legislation is necessary because THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the active ingredient in marijuana, can stay in a person’s system after they are no longer impaired. As a result, drug testing may detect THC in an employee’s system even if they used it weeks earlier and it is having no effect on their job performance.
AB 2188 does not require employers to permit employees to be high while working.
The bill would exempt construction trade employees and would not preempt state or federal laws that require employees to submit to drug testing. This law takes effect Jan. 1, 2024.
4) Leaves of absence
Starting Jan. 1, AB 1041 expands who an employee can care for under the California Family rights Act and under the state’s paid sick leave law.
Both of these statutes allow employees to take leave to care for a family member, defined as a:
- Registered domestic partner,
- Grandchild, or
The new law expands that to include “any individual related by blood or whose association with the employee is equivalent of a family relationship.” The employee can identify this designated person at the time they request family leave or when they request paid sick days.
5) OSHA citation postings
AB 2068 expands posting requirements for employers that receive workplace safety citations from Cal/OSHA. Under current law, employers that receive citations and orders from the agency are required to post them in or near the place the violation occurred, in order to warn employees about a potential hazard.
Starting Jan. 1, 2023, employers who receive citations and orders must post a new employee notification document that has been prepared by Cal/OSHA in English, as well as the top seven non-English languages in California:
- Chinese (Cantonese, Mandarin)
- Armenian, and