Get ready for these new California business laws for 2023
The new year is nearly upon us, and if you’re running a business, we all know what that means: Make sure you’re prepared for new laws, some that take effect in mere weeks, that will impact your business.
Here are the topics covered in this report:
- Leaves of absence
- Pay scale and data transparency
- Workplace safety
- Privacy rights
- COVID-19 exposure
- Expansion of the state’s retirement program
- Minimum wage increase
- Greater union protections
- Fast-food worker council
Leaves of absence
Assembly Bill 1041 amends two laws by relaxing the definition of people an employee can take off time to care for.
The new law adds a “designated person” to the category of existing permitted family members that include a spouse, registered domestic partner, child, parent, parent-in-law, grandparent, grandchild and sibling.
The new law, taking effect Jan. 1, expands both the California Family Rights Act and California’s paid sick leave law, called the Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act.
The difference between the their definitions of a designated person is negligible.
The California Family Rights Act defines a designated person as an employee’s blood relative or someone who the employee considers family, while the Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act’s definition is someone the employee identifies at the time he or she requests the paid sick days.
In both cases, an employer can limit an employee to one designated person per year.
Meanwhile, Assembly Bill 1949 makes it unlawful for employers to discriminate or retaliate against staffers who take bereavement leave. Employers are permitted, however, to request workers provide proof of the death that requires the leave.
Authored by Assemblyman Evan Low, D-San Jose, the legislation takes effect Jan. 1 and applies to private employers with five or more employees and all public-sector employees.
Although many employers already have bereavement policies in place, this is a good time to review and make sure they are compliant with the new legislation, according to the Society for Human Resource Management.
“As with any kind of leave entitlement, it is always a best practice to have a formalized policy that is applied uniformly,” Stephanie Kierig, an attorney with Jackson Lewis in San Diego, told the society in a Sept. 30 article. “(Employers) should also evaluate how a bereavement-leave policy would affect their operations and how such a policy should be implemented.”
Workers are eligible for bereavement leave if they have worked for their current employer for at least 30 days. The leave also must be taken within three months of the death.
Another new law, Senate Bill 951, addresses paid family leave by extending one year a program that was set to expire at the end of 2023. In addition, starting in 2025, the legislation increases wage-replacement rates for the family leave and State Disability Insurance programs — from 70% of an employee’s regular wages to 90%, depending on the employee’s earnings.
California currently has a paid family leave grant program in place to help small businesses offset the costs when an employee is out, including cross-training existing staff, and bringing on new or temporary employees. Eligible business can receive up to $2,000 under the grant, which ends May 31, 2024, or when funds run out.
Pay scales and pay data
SB 1162 requires companies that employ at least 15 people to include salary ranges in all job postings and provide them to existing employees upon request.
Backers say the law, drafted by Sen. Monique Limón, D-Santa Barbara, is intended to push for salary transparency and pay equity for all, the North Bay Business Journal reported Oct. 6. Businesses with 100 or more employees already must submit this information to the state.
Businesses that don’t comply with the law, which includes reporting employees’ salary, sex, race, ethnicity, hours worked and job category, will face penalties, according to the legislation.
Those penalties allow the state to seek court orders to fine employers for not complying with the law starting at $100 per employee, and up to $200 per employee for a subsequent failure.
Further, the new law permits the California Labor Commissioner to order the employer to pay a civil penalty of no less than $100 per employee and no more than $10,000 per violation.
“It cannot be overstated, with the impending law, now is a good time for employers to do a review of all employee salaries to make sure they are in line with upcoming positions,” said Sarah Grimstead, regional vice president with Houston-based Insperity, a national HR services provider.