Changes to Expect in California Employment Law in 2023

California passed several employment laws this year, most of which go into effect January 2023. Employers should both be aware of and prepared to comply with these changes come the new year.

Three new laws impact an employee’s right to paid sick leave and bereavement leave. First, under Assembly Bill (AB) 1041, employees will be able to take paid sick leave to care for certain “designated persons.” Some pre-existing local ordinances have similarly given employees the ability to use paid sick leave to care for non-family members, but AB 1041 provides this right via an expansion of the California Family Rights Act and the state’s paid sick leave law. Second, AB 152 extends the right to use 2022 covid-19 supplemental paid sick leave to December 31st, 2022. This right was previously set to expire on September 30th, 2022. Third, AB 1949 provides employees with up to five days of bereavement leave upon the death of a qualifying family member, which includes the employee’s spouse, child, parent, sibling, grandparent, grandchild, domestic partner, or parent-in-law. AB 1949 makes it an unlawful employment practice to deny an employee’s bereavement leave and permits employees to use other forms of available paid leave for bereavement.

Employers should also anticipate changes to certain data collection and notice obligations. On December 31st, 2022, the California Privacy Right Act’s (CPRA) worker exemption will expire. This exemption allowed employers to escape some of the more burdensome requirements of the Act, including the requirements for storing employee personal information. Among others, employees have a right under the CPRA to view, correct, access, or delete their personal information. Employers should prepare for this exemption’s expiration by reviewing their new workforce obligations for 2023. The additional burden the worker exemption expiration places on employers is somewhat mitigated by AB 2693, which no longer requires employers to notify their local county health departments upon a positive covid-19 test or potential exposure. Additionally, employers can satisfy the notice requirement of a positive case or potential exposure by prominently displaying the notice in the workplace where the exposure occurred.

Lastly, three laws will impact the area of employee performance. First, AB 257 is an expansive law that imposes new obligations on the fast-food industry. Second, Senate Bill (SB) 1044 provides employee protection where the employee has a reasonable belief that a workplace or worksite is unsafe, although a health pandemic (such as covid-19) would not be within the law’s reach. Employees who hold such a reasonable belief will be protected from employer repercussions for either leaving or refusing to report to the workplace. Third, AB 2188 provides protection for employee off-duty cannabis use under the Fair Employment and Housing Act, although the law does not go into effect until January 1st, 2024. Employers may continue pre-employment drug testing, but AB 2188 makes it unlawful to “discriminate against a person in hiring, termination, or any term or condition of employment” for either 1) the individual’s off-duty and off-site use of cannabis or 2) the failure to pass an employer’s mandatory drug test due to “nonpsychoactive cannabis metabolites in their hair, blood, urine, or body fluids.” AB 2188 will greatly affect the action an employer can take in response to an employee’s possession or use of cannabis, or the employee’s resulting impairment.

Contact your Kunzler Bean & Adamson attorneys if you have questions about any of these new changes in California employment law.

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