2022 was again a very busy year for the California Legislature as it enacted a flood of new labor and employment laws that employers need to be aware of for 2023 and beyond. This Legal Alert highlights and summarizes the most important compliance obligations set up by these new laws, which have either recently taken effect or will go into effect on January 1, 2023. 

SB 189 – Department of Fair Employment and Housing Name Change

Beginning on July 1, 2022, the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing’s name changed to the Civil Rights Department (CRD). According to the CRD’s website, this change was enacted to more accurately reflect the CRD’s authorities and duties, which include enforcement of a variety of  laws, including laws that prohibit hate violence, human trafficking, and discrimination in business establishments.

SB 931 – Violations for Discouraging Union Membership

Effective January 1, 2023, SB 931 prohibits a public employer from discouraging public employees or applicants to be public employees from becoming or remaining members of an employee organization, authorizing representation by an employee organization, or authorizing dues or fee deductions to an employee organization.

SB 954 – Payroll Records for Public Employees

Beginning on January 1, 2023, SB 954 requires that contractors and subcontractors provide the California Labor Commissioner with payroll records regarding public works projects, which include construction, alteration, demolition, installation, or repair work done under contract and paid for, in whole or in part, out of public funds.

SB 1044 – Prohibitions on Employers in the Event of Emergency Conditions

Effective January 1, 2023, SB 1044 precludes employers, in the event of an emergency condition, from taking or threatening adverse action against an employee for refusing to report to, or leaving, a workplace or worksite within the affected area because the employee has a reasonable belief that the workplace or worksite is unsafe. Importantly, this preclusion does not apply to specific groups of employees enumerated in the text of the bill, including but not limited to, first responders, employees required by law to render aid or remain on the premises in case of an emergency, and employees whose primary duties include assisting members of the public to evacuate in case of an emergency.

SB 1126 – CalSavers Retirement Savings Trust Act

Beginning on January 1, 2023, SB 1126 enlarges the definition of “eligible employer” of the CalSavers Retirement Savings Trust Act to include any such person or entity that has at least one eligible employee and that satisfies the requirements to establish or participate in a payroll deposit retirement savings arrangement.

SB 1138 – Unemployment Insurance for Self-Employed Individuals

Effective January 1, 2023, SB 1138 requires the California Employment Development Department (EDD) to conduct a feasibility study that analyzes the idea of extending unemployment insurance benefits to self-employed individuals. The EDD will also be mandated to report on any actions necessary to implement such an expansion.

SB 1162 – Pay Transparency

Beginning on January 1, 2023, SB 1162 obligates employers with 15 or more employees to disclose pay scales for a position in any job posting and requires employers to maintain records of job titles and wage rate history for each employee for the duration of employment plus three years. Further, this bill also sets new pay data reporting requirements based on protected characteristics, changes the date for submitting pay data reports, and establishes significant penalties for non-compliance.

SB 1334 – Break Periods for Hospital Employees

Effective January 1, 2023, SB 1334 extends existing meal and rest period requirements for applicable private sector employers to public sector health care employees who provide direct patient care, or support direct patient care, in a general acute care hospital, clinic, or public health setting. Public sector health employers include the state, municipalities, and the Regents of the University of California.

Accordingly, this bill requires public sector health care employers to provide an unpaid 30-minute meal period to covered employees who work over five hours, and an additional unpaid 30-minute meal period for employees who work more than 10 hours in a shift. These employers must also provide a rest period based on the total hours worked daily at the rate of 10 minutes per four hours or major fraction thereof as provided by Wage Order No. 4 and Wage Order No. 5 of the Industrial Welfare Commission.

SB 1477 – Wage Garnishment

Beginning September 1, 2023, SB 1477 replaces the current formula for determining what portion of a judgment debtor’s wages can be garnished in order to satisfy a judgment for persons, such that the maximum amount of disposable earnings of a judgment debtor for any work week that is subject to levy must not exceed the lesser of the following:

  • 20% of the individual’s disposable earnings for that week.
  • 40% of the amount by which the individual’s disposable earnings for that week exceed 48 times the state minimum hourly wage (or, the local minimum hourly wage, if greater than the state minimum wage).

AB 551 – Designated Persons Under the California Family Rights Act 

Effective January 1, 2023, AB 1041 amends the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) and expands the class of people for whom an employee may take leave to care for under the CFRA to include a “designated person.” The bill defines “designated person” to mean any individual related by blood or whose association with the employee is equivalent of a family relationship. Additionally, this bill provides that the employee may identify the designated person at the time the employee requests leave and that the employer may limit the employee to one designated person per 12-month period.

AB 1467 – Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence

Existing law currently requires that public postsecondary governing bodies in California adopt and implement written procedures or protocols to guarantee that students, faculty, and staff who are victims of sexual assault committed at specified locations receive treatment and certain information. These procedures and protocols must include specified information, such as “procedures ensuring that each victim of sexual assault should receive information about the existence of at least the following options: criminal prosecutions, civil prosecutions, the disciplinary process through the college, the availability of mediation, alternative housing assignments, and academic assistance alternatives.”

Importantly, effective January 1, 2023, this bill adds that the information provided must include procedures for obtaining the assistance of “counselors and support services for victims.” Further, this bill requires, among many things, that postsecondary school sexual assault and domestic violence counselors be independent of the campus Title IX office and that any executive orders related to discrimination, harassment, and retaliation be submitted in an annual report to the chairs of the Assembly Committee on Higher Education and the Senate Committee on Education.

AB 1601 – New Notice Requirements Under California WARN Act

Effective January 1, 2023, AB 1601 expands the notice requirements of the California Workers Adjustment and Restraining Notification Act to a call center employer that intends to relocate its call center. A call center means a facility where employees, as their primary role, receive telephone calls or other electronic communications for the purpose of providing customer services or other related functions.

AB 1661 – Human Trafficking Information

Currently, existing law requires specified businesses and other establishments to post a notice, as developed by the Department of Justice, that contains information relating to slavery and human trafficking, including information regarding specified nonprofit organizations that a person can call for services or support in the elimination of slavery and human trafficking. Beginning on January 1, 2023, this bill requires that hair, nail, electrolysis, skin care, and other related business or establishments post such a notice.

AB 1726 – Confidentiality of Address

Existing law currently enforces the Safe at Home Program, which offers victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, human trafficking, or elder or dependent adult abuse, under which an adult may substitute his or her mailing address to receive first class, certified, and registered mail. Accordingly, under existing law, when the California Secretary of State certifies the person as a program participant, the person’s actual address remains confidential.

Beginning on January 1, 2023, this bill extends the deadline for service on program participants by 12 days and extends the deadline for defendants to respond to a complaint in an action to obtain possession or real property by five court days if service of the complaint is completed through the Safe at Home Program.

AB 1747 – Disciplinary Action Against Licensed Contractors

Effective January 1, 2023, AB 1747 states that the Contractors State License Board may take disciplinary action against a licensed contractor for a willful or deliberate disregard of any state or local law relating to the issuance of building permits and authorizes a civil penalty against the contractor to not exceed $30,000 for any violation.

AB 1775 – Requirements for Entertainment Events Vendors

Beginning on January 1, 2023, AB 1775 enforces certain requirements for entities that contract with entertainment vendors as part of a production of live events at the public events venue. Under this bill, such vendors are required to certify that their employees (and any subcontractors’ employees) have completed specific Occupation Safety and Health Administration trainings.

AB 1788 – Penalties For Human Trafficking in Hotels

Effective January 1, 2023, AB 1788 allows civil penalties against a hotel if:

  1. Sex trafficking activity occurred in the hotel, a supervisory employee of the hotel knew, or acted with reckless disregard, of the activity constituting sex tracking activity that occurred within the hotel and failed to inform the appropriate authorities within 24 hours; and/or
  2. Any hotel employee was acting within the scope of employment and knowingly benefited – financially or by receiving anything of value – from participating in a venture that the employee knew, or acted with reckless disregard, of the activity constituting sex trafficking activity within the hotel.

AB 1851 – Expanding the Definition of “Public Works”

Beginning January 1, 2023, AB 1851 expands the definition of “public works” to include the on-hauling of materials used for paving, grading, and fill into a public works site if the individual driver’s work is integrated into the flow process of construction.

AB 1949 – Bereavement Leave

Effective January 1, 2023, AB 1949 amends the California Family Rights Act and states that eligible employees who have been employed for at least 30 days may take up to 5 days of unpaid leave (subject to an employee’s ability to use paid time off) related to the death of a family member. Family member means a spouse or a child, parent, sibling, grandparent, grandchild, domestic partner, or parent-in-law.

AB 2188 – Cannabis Use

Beginning January 1, 2024, AB 2188 amends the California Fair Employment and Housing Act to make it unlawful for an employer to discriminate on the basis of a person’s use of cannabis off the job and away from the workplace or based on an employer-required drug test that found non-psychoactive cannabis metabolites in the person’s hair, blood, urine, or other bodily fluids.

Additionally, this bill allows exceptions for preemployment drug screening that does not screen for non-psychoactive cannabis metabolites. Also, certain employees and applicants are exempt, including those in the building and construction trades and those whose positions require federal background investigation or clearance.

AB 2243 – Health Illness and Wildfire Smoke

Effective January 1, 2023, AB 2243 obligates the Division of Occupational Safety and Health, (Cal/OSHA), before January 1, 2025, to submit to the standards board a rulemaking proposal to consider revising the heat illness standard and wildfire smoke standard based on criteria enumerated in the bill.

AB 2683 – Educational and Preventive Information on Sexual Violate and Sexual Harassment

Beginning January 1, 2023, AB 2683 requires that each campus of the California Community Colleges and the California State University post educational and preventive information on sexual violence and sexual harassment on its campus internet website. This posting must contain specific information, such as common facts and myths about the causes of sexual violence and sexual harassment and methods of encouraging peer support of victims.

AB 2693 – COVID-19 Outbreak Notice

Effective January 1, 2023, AB 2693 amends California Labor Code section 6490.6 and provides that employers no longer have to give notice to the local public health agency in the event of a COVID-19 outbreak. The California Department of Public Health will also no longer be obligated to post workplace information received from local public health departments about COVID-19 cases and outbreaks.

AB 2766 – Violations of Unfair Competition Law

Beginning January 1, 2023, AB 2766 authorizes enforcement and investigatory power to the city attorney of any city with a population of over 750,000, to the county counsel of any county (which a city within the county has a population over 750,00), or the city attorney of a city and county (collectively Attorneys) when the Attorneys reasonably believe there may have been a violation of the Unfair Competition Law, including any unlawful, unfair, or fraudulent business act or practice, and unfair, deceptive, untrue, or misleading advertising. The bill further provides that the Attorneys can issue a subpoena as part of their investigation.

AB 2777 – Time Period to Commence a Civil Action for Sexual Assault

Effective January 1, 2023, AB 2777 provides that actions commenced on or after January 1, 2019, and based on conduct that occurred on or after January 1, 2009, will not be time-barred, even if the 10-year statute of limitations has expired, given that such claims are commenced by December 31, 2026. Importantly, this bill does not revive claims in which there has been, prior to January 1, 2023, a final decision by a court or a written settlement.