Employment law book and gavel

New Employment Laws for a New Year 

Law Offices of Charles P. Boylston Feb. 10, 2023

California is always on the forefront of extending employee rights and placing new obligations on employers, and as we enter 2023, the slate is once again chockful of new employment laws and tweaks to existing laws. The minimum wage has finally reached its legislative aim of $15 an hour for all workers in the state, and in fact is now at $15.50 per hour. Some counties and municipalities have legislated even higher rates. 

In addition, the federal government has enacted the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA), which takes effect on June 27 of this year. Most new laws and modifications or regulations affecting employers and employees in the Golden State will be detailed below. 

If you as an employee or employer have questions or concerns about any of these changes in or around Temecula, California, contact the Law Offices of Charles P. Boylston. Our legal team is dedicated to resolving issues involving employers and employees, and we will be happy to listen to your concerns and help you chart a path forward. We proudly serve clients throughout Southern California, including San Diego, Riverside, Orange, and Los Angeles counties. 

New Laws for a New Year 

CALIFORNIA MINIMUM WAGE: The statewide minimum wage is now $15.50 and applies to employers of all sizes. Previously, employers with 25 or fewer employers had a lower minimum wage. That ends this year. Cities and counties may have higher rates.  

OVERTIME FOR AGRICULTURAL WORKERS: Prior to this year, agricultural workers were not covered by the same overtime laws as workers in other industries. Now, agricultural employers with 25 or fewer must pay their workers overtime after 9 hours in a day or 50 hours in a week. For larger employers, the standard is 8 hours a day and 40 hours a week.  

PREGNANT WORKERS FAIRNESS ACT (PWFA): As noted earlier, the PWFA, which was passed and signed into law in December 2022, takes effect on June 27. The bill prohibits employment practices that discriminate against making reasonable accommodations for qualified employees affected by a pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions. The PWFA will be enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).  

PAY TRANSPARENCY LAW: Employers with 15 or more workers must now include the pay range in any job posting, internally or externally. Existing employers will also be allowed to enquire about the pay range for their current position. Larger companies will have to provide more detailed pay data to California’s Civil Rights Department than previously required.  

FAST FOOD ACCOUNTABILITY AND STANDARDS RECOVERY ACT: The FAST Act, as this bill has come to be known, would set up a Fast Food Council of 10 members to set wages for fast food and fast-casual restaurants. However, opponents launched a referendum and collected enough signatures to require a vote on the FAST Act in 2024, so it isn’t taking effect this year as planned. Under the law, the minimum wage would be $22 an hour in 2023 and rise 3.5 percent annually after that for affected fast-food operations.   

CALIFORNIA WARN ACT: The state’s version of the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act now extends its provisions to call centers, requiring advanced notice of mass layoffs, relocation, or termination. The act, since passing, has applied to employers with 75 or more employees, but call centers are now covered regardless of employee size.  

PROTECTED TIME OFF: California Assembly Bill (AB) 1041 expands the definition of “family member” for purposes of leave under the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) and the Healthy Workplaces Healthy Families Act (HWHFA). Employees will be allowed to identify a “designated person” for whom they wish to use their leave rights. CFRA leave is unpaid, and HWHFA leave is paid.  

PROTECTED TIME OFF: BEREAVEMENT LEAVE: This amends the CFRA to require employers with five or more employees to provide up to five days of unpaid bereavement leave for an employee within three months of the death of a family member.  

REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH: This new law applies to religious employers whose health care plans do not provide coverage for abortion or contraception. These employers and their insurers now have to provide written information about free abortion and contraception services available through the California Reproductive Health Equity Program. Another law amends the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) to prohibit employment discrimination based on a person’s reproductive health decisions.   

CANNABIS PROTECTIONS: A new law will ban employers from discriminating against employees based on their use of marijuana away from the workplace and outside of working hours. However, the bill won’t take effect until 2024. A law that did take effect this year protects doctors from being punished for treating patients who use cannabis, which is still illegal under federal law. 

Speak with an Experienced Attorney 

If you as an employee or employer need clarification of any of these new laws and mandates, and you’re in Southern California, contact us at the Law Offices of Charles P. Boylston.   

Our employment law attorney is dedicated to improving the way California does business and works with either employees or employers when issues or disputes arise. Reach out today if you’re in the counties of Orange, Riverside, San Diego, or Los Angeles.