California employment laws change constantly to ensure fair wages and treatment of employees. As new situations arise at workplaces across the state, laws are examined and improved. Some laws help protect employers from unfair practices, too. Take a look at some of the laws that are already being planned for 2023.
At-Home CBD and Cannabis Use
As cannabis was legalized in California, one issue has been pre-employment drug screenings. People who use recreational cannabis and CBD at home don’t always pass drug screenings, even though their use is legal. This can lead to discrimination in the workplace.
Starting January 1, 2024 (there’s plenty of time for employers to draft new policies), California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act is allowing companies to still require job applicants to undergo drug tests, but they cannot test for cannabis and CBD use.
Not every employer provides bereavement leave to its employees. Currently, the California Family Rights Act requires employers to provide employees with up to three days for bereavement and two extra days for a death that took place in another state. That changes with the addition of AB1949.
Eligible employees now get a total of five or more days of bereavement leave if a family member passes away. Employees who are under a union contract would follow the agreement in that contract. The bereavement leave isn’t required to be paid leave, but it must be taken within three months of the death.
The California Privacy Rights Act
Exemptions with the California Privacy Rights Act are changing on January 1st. Employees will have more rights when it comes to correcting or deleting personal information being collected on them, and employers cannot retaliate if an employee asks them to remove or stop sharing their information.
That’s one of the changes being made, and employers who were exempt will find that’s changing. HR departments need to be prepared for the new obligations before the end of the year arrives and have compliance programs readied.
Wages in California keep going up, and another round of increases hits on January 1s.t The minimum wage for all California employees (regardless of size) increases to $15.50 an hour, but some areas are higher than that. For example, Belmont and San Mateo’s minimum wages will be $16.75, El Cerrito’s goes to $17.35, and Palo Alto’s minimum wage goes up to $17.30.
Call Center WARN Enforcement
Under the federal WARN Act, employers with 100 or more workers must provide 60-days notice before mass layouts or business closures. Workers at call centers are now getting protection if their call center plans to move to a new area or move part of the operations out of the U.S. If a call center owner ignores this rule, the owner forfeits any tax credits for five years and will not qualify for state grants or state-guaranteed loans for a full five years.
If there are positive cases of COVID in the workplace, employees will no longer have to report them to the local health department. They also no longer need to do more than post a notice on a workplace bulletin board or another prominent place within the workplace. Emails or calls to each employee are no longer necessary.
The Fast Food Accountability Recovery Act
Starting January 1st, fast food restaurants that have at least 100 or more establishments around the country must meet new employment rules. Some of the changes include raising the minimum hourly wage to $22 an hour. Plus, fast food restaurant management cannot discharge, discriminate, or retaliate against employees who complain to the media or a watchdog group, participate in a Fast Food Council, or refuse to work in unsafe conditions.
Paid Sick Leave Law
In most companies, paid sick leave provides an employee with paid sick leave to take time off when ill. The California Family Rights Act is expanding this to cover paid sick leave to take care of any “designated persons.” Designated persons are defined as any person related by blood or who is close enough to be the equivalent of a family member. If an employee needs paid time off to care for an ill sibling, it will be allowed with AB 1041.
Along with that, the COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave coverage has been extended through the end of the year. If an employee needs paid time off due to COVID, it’s allowed through December 31, 2022.
Pay Scale Information
When an applicant applies for a job, it’s not always easy to know what the job’s pay scale is, unless the company has 100 or more employees. An employer may not offer that information upfront and, instead, ask what you want to be paid. If you come in lower, they save money.
SB 1162 expands the Pay Data Reporting requirements for employers with 100+ employees. Now, employers with 15 or more employees have to make pay scale information available to job applicants by including it in job postings. It’s believed this could help end the wage gaps between women and men. If a company fails to comply, fines can be as much as $10,000 per violation.
Another change is going to help employees or job applicants from discrimination based on their health decisions regarding their reproductive health. For example, if a woman decides to get an IUD, her workplace can’t refuse to offer that using cost-sharing measures, just as they couldn’t refuse to offer full insurance coverage for vasectomies. An employer cannot state the use of birth control methods are against the owner’s religious beliefs and refuse to offer that coverage.
In addition, employers cannot force employees or job applicants to share information regarding their reproductive health decisions. Employers cannot ask questions like, “Are you using hormone replacement therapies?”
Unsafe Work Environments
All employees who refuse to come to work or stay at work if the employee believes the workplace is unsafe are protected by SB 1044. As long as there is a reasonable belief, employees are allowed to leave or refuse to come and cannot be penalized by their employees for their actions.
Steps to Take If You Feel Your Employer Isn’t Following the Laws
With all of the changes, how do you handle things if you’re certain your employer isn’t playing fair? Whether you’re being unfairly treated when it comes to wages and overtime or discriminatory practices, stand up for your rights. Don’t let fear or anxiety keep you from fair treatment.
You have the right to go to HR with your complaint. If you don’t believe they’ve taken you seriously or you’re being retaliated against, call a California employment discrimination and harassment attorney. Don’t worry about having enough money. If you have a valid case, your attorney doesn’t charge you upfront, the attorney’s fee comes from your settlement or award.
Shegerian Conniff doesn’t believe you should have to stand for unfair treatment. From sexual harassment cases to pregnancy discrimination, our attorneys fight for you. Reach us for a free consultation. We’ll give you an honest opinion regarding whether you have a valid complaint and discuss the next steps.