Here are some of the most significant employment law updates for 2023.
The minimum wage for all California employees has again increased. For all employers, the minimum wage has increased to $15.50, regardless of the number of employees. This also means the minimum annual salary for certain exempt employees has increased to $64,480.
When it is possible to record the actual number of hours worked, an employer’s use of a neutral time rounding policy may be considered a violation of California law and result in a claim for non-payment of wages. As technology has advanced to allow employers to capture and calculate the precise amount of time employees worked, relying on a time rounding policy may no longer be permissible.
Meal & Rest Periods
The California Supreme Court held that meal and rest period premiums for the non-provision of such breaks are properly characterized as wages. This means such premiums must be listed on wage statements. Further, if any such premiums are unpaid at the time of termination, they must be paid with all other wages due.
Failure to include such premium payments on wage statements and timely pay such premiums may entitle employees to penalties and attorney’s fees.
California Family Rights Act
Over the last few years, the California Family Rights Act has been amended several times, including the recent change that made the law applicable to employers with at least five employees and expanded coverage to care for designated persons.
The amended law requires employers with at least five employees to allow an employee to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid protected leave for certain qualifying reasons. An employee may take leave under the Act to bond with their new child or to care for themselves due to their own serious health condition or the serious health condition of a child, parent, grandparent, grandchild, sibling, spouse, domestic partner, or a designated person.
Designated person is defined as any individual related by blood or whose association with the employee is the equivalent of a family relationship. An employer may limit an employee to one designated person per 12 month period.
Employers with at least five employees must now allow an employee who has been employed for at least 30 days to take five days of bereavement leave for the death of a family member. Family member is defined as a spouse, domestic partner, parent, parent-in-law, child, sibling, grandparent, or grandchild.
The leave does not have to be paid. The leave must be taken within three months of the death. The leave does not need to be taken consecutively.
Retaliation – Emergency Conditions
In the event of an emergency condition, an employer is prohibited from taking or threatening to take any adverse action against an employee for refusing to report to a worksite or for leaving a worksite.
An emergency condition is defined as either 1) conditions of disaster or extreme peril caused by natural forces or criminal acts, or 2) an order to evacuate the worksite, the worker’s home, or the school of the worker’s child due to a natural disaster or a criminal act.
The law does not apply to first responders, health care workers, residential care facilities, among others.
Discrimination - Reproductive Health & Contraception
An employer with five or more employees may not discriminate against an employee based on the employee's reproductive health decision making, including a decision to use or access any particular drug, product, or medical service. An employer may not require an employee to disclose any such information.
Off Duty Marijuana Use
Effective January 1, 2024, employers with at least five employees may not take any adverse action against an employee for using marijuana off site and off duty.
Arbitration – Sexual Assault and Harassment
Federal law now allows an employee to bring a claim for sexual assault or sexual harassment in court regardless of whether the employee has signed an arbitration agreement.
All employers in California now have to 1) provide, upon request, the pay scale for the position in which a current employee is employed; and 2) maintain documentation of an employee’s job title and wage history for each employee for the duration of the employee’s employment and for three years afterward. Employers with 15 or more employees must include in any job posting the “salary or hourly wage that the employer reasonably expects to pay for the position.”
Contact the experienced employment attorneys at the Law Offices of Corren & Corren for any of your employment law needs.