California labor laws: a list of 2023 changes

The new year will bring an onslaught of California labor law changes after a busy legislative session. From COVID-19 reporting to recordkeeping rules, the new regulations cover many areas. If you operate a business in the state, you will likely see an impact from these new laws, 

Take a look at the list of employment laws that will go into effect next year. Then, head to your state labor law guide to give yourself a refresher on laws like minimum wage, paid leave, and more. 

If you need help understanding these laws or want to get answers to other compliance questions, Homebase HR Pro can help. When you sign up, you’ll get live access to certified advisors who can review your employee handbooks, help you set new policies, and more. 

2022 California labor law changes

Gov. Greg Newsom recently approved many California labor laws to take effect in 2022. Unless otherwise noted, all of these laws go into effect on January 1, 2022. Familiarize yourself with these new regulations so you can stay compliant in the new year. 

COVID-19 reporting (AB 654)

California legislators enacted AB 685 in 2020, which laid out COVID-19 exposure reporting/notification rules. AB 654 took this legislation a step further and updates several areas of the previous law. The new legislation changes reporting requirements and stipulates that employers have either 1 business day or 48 hours (whichever is later) to report employee outbreaks of the virus. 

Reporting the outbreak includes giving written notice to all employees who could have been exposed to the virus at the worksite, as well as local public health agencies. Employers do not need to provide notice on weekends or holidays. 

The original law exempted certain groups of employers from reporting outbreaks to local public health agencies. The new law adds the following business types to the list of exempted industries: 

  • Adult health day centers 
  • Community clinics 
  • Community care facilities
  • Child daycare facilities 

In a multi-worksite environment, employers now only need to notify employees who were working at the same location as the workers who got the virus. 

The law also modifies cleaning and disinfection plan reporting. Previously, employers were required to notify all employees and employers of subcontracted workers. Now, employers must only notify employees and employers of subcontractors who were at the same location as the affected individual within the infectious period. 

Note: This law took effect on October 5, 2021

Warehouse distribution employee wage and hour rules (AB 701)

Employers with large warehouse distribution centers must provide written descriptions of all quotas employees are responsible for. “Large distribution center” means the employer has:

  • 100 or more workers at a single warehouse
  • 1000+ employees at any number of warehouse distribution centers in the state

Quotas can include:

  • The number of tasks they need to perform within a certain period of time
  • The minimum amount of materials that need to be produced or handled in a workday or workweek. 

The law also requires that employers have a written description for any potential punishment that employees could expect if the quotas are not met. Additionally, the new law prevents employers from punishing employees for not meeting a quota that was never disclosed to them. 

Employers also cannot punish workers for failing to meet a quota that:

  • Does not give them time to take their required meal breaks or rest periods
  • Interferes with their protection under occupational health and safety laws. 

CFRA expansion (AB 1033)

The latest amendment to the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) changes the definition of “family members” to include parents-in-law. This means that if an employee’s mother- or father-in-law has a serious health condition that requires them to be taken care of, the employee can legally take the leave to do so. 

Silenced No More Act (SB 331)

The Silenced No More Act largely prohibits non-disclosure clauses for all forms of workplace harassment or discrimination of any protected status under the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), not just sex. However, the law does not prevent non-disclosure clauses for the settlement money paid. 

The law also limits the use of non-disparagement clauses (meaning clauses that prevent the employee from saying anything negative about the business) or other provisions that limit the employee’s ability to share workplace condition information. If a provision like this is included in a written policy or procedure, it must include the following: 

“Nothing in this agreement prevents you from discussing or disclosing information about unlawful acts in the workplace, such as harassment or discrimination or any other conduct that you have reason to believe is unlawful.”  

Food delivery tip distribution (AB 286)

Under this new law, food delivery platforms are no longer allowed to keep money designated by the customer as tips. The person delivering the items must receive all tips or gratuities, and any tips given for a pickup order must be paid in their entirety to the establishment that provided the food. 

The law also makes it illegal for a food delivery platform to charge a higher rate for food or beverage than what the food establishment sets. 

Recordkeeping requirements (SB 807)

SB 807 now requires employers to maintain employee AND applicant personnel records for a minimum of 4 years. However, if an employee files a complaint with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH), employers must keep all related records until they receive notice that the agency resolved the issue. 

Wage theft criminalization (AB 1003)

AB 1003 makes wage theft a criminal offense that is punishable as grand theft. Wage theft includes stealing wages, tips, benefits, or other forms of compensation from workers for amounts greater than $950 from 1 employee and $2,350 for two or more employees in any 1-year period. 

Note: the law also includes independent contractors under the definition of employee. 

Cal-OSHA rebuttable presumption (SB 606)

SB 606 creates a “rebuttable presumption” (an assumption that the court considers true unless someone can prove otherwise) that an employer has committed an “enterprise-wide” violation (a violation at multiple worksites) if Cal-OSHA determines that either: 

Note: Cal-OSHA does not need to investigate other worksites or observe violations before issuing citations. Employers can receive citations for worksites that the agency did not inspect if they find a violation in a written policy at one of the worksites. 

Egregious violations

Additionally, the law implements new “egregious violations.” These will result in a separate penalty for each employee impacted by the violation. 

The organization considers the following to be “egregious violations”: 

  • The employer intentionally made no “reasonable effort” to eliminate the violation 
  • Worker fatalities, worksite catastrophes, or a large number of injuries or illnesses occurred as a result of the violation
  • Persistently high rates of worker injuries or illnesses occurred as a result of the violation
  • The employer has an extensive history of previous violations 
  • The employer has previously demonstrated that they disregard health and safety 
  • The employer’s conduct as a whole demonstrate bad faith in terms of providing a safe work environment
  • The employer has significantly undermined an implemented safety and health program’s effectiveness by committing a large number of violations. 

The law additionally gives Cal-OSHA new subpoena authority. The agency now has the power to “issue a subpoena if the employer or related entity fails to promptly provide the requested information.” This means employers can be subpoenaed if they do not provide requested information in a “reasonable” amount of time. 

Need help with these new California labor laws?

If you own a business in California, it’s important that you learn these new labor laws to maintain compliance. Luckily Homebase HR Pro is here to help clear up the confusion. With your account, you’ll get live access to certified experts who can answer any questions you may have. Sign up today and take advantage ​​of the modern tools you need to manage your team.


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