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New employment laws for 2023 in California

Written by
FordHarrison LLP, nationwide U.S. law firm with a singular focus on HR law.
As we’re now racing toward the end of the year, employers should be aware of a number of new California laws going into effect in 2023. The new laws cover a wide range of areas in employment, including hiring, leaves of absences, drug abuse policies, and privacy.

Executive Summary

California has passed a number of employment laws this year, including a requirement for employers to disclose pay scale information in any job advertisements; expansion of employees’ leave care rights; protections for cannabis users; and expansion of the state’s consumer privacy act as applied to employers. These new laws, most of which go into effect 1 January 2023, are expected to have a significant impact on employers operating in California. Below is a brief overview of the most notable new laws affecting businesses in California. 

Paid sick leave (AB 1041)

The state’s California Family Rights Act (CFRA) and paid sick leave law will be expanded to allow employees to take leave to care for designated persons. The expanded right is similar to certain preexisting local paid sick leave ordinances, which had allowed employees to use paid sick leave to care for a non-family member or significant other. 

Bereavement leave (AB 1949)

Up to five days of bereavement leave must now be provided upon the death of a family member, including a spouse, child, parent, sibling, grandparent, grandchild, domestic partner or parent-in-law. 

Supplemental paid sick leave (AB 152)

Originally due to expire on 30 September 2022, the right to use 2022 COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave will be extended through 31 December, 2022. 

Off-duty cannabis use (AB 2188)

Off-duty cannabis use is now protected under the state’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). Importantly, the law won’t go into effect until 1 January 2024, and will still permit employers to conduct preemployment drug testing (provided the test does not screen for CBD or other non-psychoactive cannabis metabolites).  

Despite the delay in enforcement, employers should be aware that the law will make it difficult to test a person’s use of cannabis, as it prevents discrimination against an employee or job applicant based on the person’s off-duty/off-premises use of cannabis. In essence, the new law would limit employers from taking action against cannabis users for possession or being impaired by or using cannabis on the job. 

Pay scale information (SB 1162)

In addition to expanding the state’s pay data reporting requirements (for employers with 100 or more employees), this new law will require employers to make pay scale information available to job applicants and employees upon request. For employers with 15 or more employees, employers must also include the pay scale information for a position in any job advertisement. 

California Privacy Rights Act’s worker exemption expires

Previously, due to an exemption within the state’s privacy law, employers were largely shielded from some of the more onerous requirements of the California Privacy Rights Act (CPRA), including requirements regarding a California worker’s right to view, access, correct and delete their personal information. However, on 31 December 2022, the exemption will sunset. This means that, on 1 January 2023, employers covered by the privacy law will have new obligations for their workforces. For more information on the CPRA, please see here 

Fast food industry requirements (AB 257)

This new law creates a set of new obligations for the fast food industry, including the creation of a Fast Food Council with the California Department of Industrial Relations. Additional information regarding the FAST Recovery Act can be found here. 

COVID-19 notifications (AB 2693)

This law changes how an employer notifies relevant parties of a COVID-19 positive case or potential exposure. Employers may now satisfy the notice requirements by prominently displaying a notice in the workplace of the potential exposure and are no longer required to notify their local county health departments. 

Unsafe working environments (SB 1044)

Protects employees who refuse to report to, or who leave, a workplace or work site because the employee has a reasonable belief that the workplace or work site is unsafe. Notably, the law was written to not include a health pandemic. 


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