Governor Gavin Newsom was active at the end of 2022, signing several significant new California employment-related laws. Of the 1,166 bills sent for signature, 977 were signed and 169 vetoed. Ninety employment-related bills were signed with 27 vetoed. Below is a non-exhaustive summary of several of the laws affecting employers in the state. All bills, except as otherwise noted, took effect Jan. 1, 2023.
SB 1162 Pay Transparency
Amends pay data reporting duties to include median and mean hourly rates within all job categories by race, ethnicity, and gender, and imposes penalties on employers for non-compliance.
Amends current EEO-1 “same or substantially similar” pay data reporting practices (100+ employees) and requires qualified employers to submit a pay data report directly to the Civil Rights Department. Reports are now due on or before the second Wednesday of May. Employers with 100+ employees hired through labor contractors must submit a separate pay data report for those employees.
Multi-establishment employers are no longer required to submit consolidated reports but must continue to submit a report for each establishment. Significant civil penalties imposed for non-compliance.
Requires employers, upon request, to provide employees with the pay scale for the employees’ current position. Employers with 15+ employees must also include the pay scale for a position in any job posting, including postings with third parties. Pay scale means the salary or hourly wage range that the employer reasonably expects to pay for the position. Records of each employee’s job title/wage rate history must be maintained for the duration of the employment plus three years after termination of employment.
AB 2693 COVID-19 Exposure
Eliminates notice requirements to local public health agencies related to COVID-19 outbreak. Eliminates CA Department of Public Heath posting requirements relating to COVID-19. Extends exposure provisions until Jan. 1, 2024, and modifies employer notification requirements.
AB 1751 Workers’ Compensation: COVID-19
AB 1751 extends to Jan. 1, 2024, the rebuttable presumption that an employee’s illness resulting from COVID-19 was sustained in the course of employment for purposes of workers’ compensation benefits.
Requires that specified notices be posted when the Division of Occupational Safety and Health issues a workplace health or safety citation or order be written in be available in English and the top seven non-English languages used by limited-English-proficient adults in California, including Punjabi.
AB 1949 Bereavement Leave
Requires employers with five or more employees to provide up to five days of unpaid bereavement leave within three months of the death of a family member.
AB 1041 Designated Person
Expands “family care and medical leave” under California Family Rights Act (CFRA) and “family member” under the paid sick leave law to include a “designated person,” defined as “any individual related by blood or whose association with the employee is the equivalent of a family relationship.” A designated person may be identified by the employee at the time leave is requested. Employees may be limited to one designated person per 12-month period.
SB 1044 Emergency Condition
Prohibits adverse action against any employee for leaving or refusing to report to work because of an “emergency condition,” defined as 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. Pandemics are specifically excluded from the definition. Adverse actions include preventing checking mobile devices to seek emergency assistance, assess the safety, or communicate with a person to confirm their safety.
AB 2183 Ag Labor Relations
Gives unions the option to represent agricultural workers by either vote by mail (if the employer enters a “labor peace compact”) or through a newly created card check mechanism, rather than in-person secret ballot process.
Signing was conditioned on a letter signed by the United Farm Workers President and the California Labor Federation agreeing to the passage of “clarifying language” eliminating the mail-in option, and installing card check as the sole alternative to secret ballot elections; changes to be made during the 2023 legislative session. To be repealed, by its terms, as of Jan. 1, 2028.
AB 2188 Discrimination: Use of Cannabis (January 1, 2024)
The new law protects California workers from discrimination if they use cannabis off the job and away from the workplace.
Prohibits employment-related decisions based on a drug screen test finding the person to have nonpsychoactive cannabis metabolites (NCM) in their blood, hair, urine or other bodily fluids. The presence of this metabolite does not indicate current impairment, only that the worker or applicant has recently consumed cannabis. The law does not impact an employer’s right to conduct drug screening. The law applies to most employers, except the building and construction industries, and workers who are subject to federal drug testing requirements.
AB 2091 Reproductive Health
(September 27, 2022)
Prohibits employers and healthcare plans from releasing information identifying or relating to a person seeking/obtaining an abortion except pursuant to a subpoena, unless the subpoena is based on another state’s laws that would interfere with an individual’s abortion rights.
SB 523 Contraceptive Equity Act of 2022
Expands Fair Employment and Housing Act protected classifications to include “reproductive health decisionmaking.” This includes, but is not limited to, decisions to use/access a particular drug, device, product or medical service for reproductive health.
Prohibits, as a condition of employment, continued employment, or a benefit of employment, the disclosure of information relating to an applicant’s/employee’s reproductive health decisionmaking. The bill also requires that health benefits cover contraceptives and vasectomies as of January 2024.
California employers are encouraged to review their policies and practices to ensure they are following the State’s new employment laws.