As we approach the end of the year, it is time to begin looking at some of the new California employment laws which will go into effect in 2023. Below are of some of the changes affecting California employees and employers early next year:
Retaliation in Emergency Conditions
SB 1044 provides for new employee protections in the event of an emergency condition to address situations where employees may feel compelled to or expected to continue working during natural disasters, such as wildfires, or may be exposed to greater danger as a result of being prohibited from accessing communications devices during active shooter situations.
Under the new law, in the event of an emergency situation, an employer will be prohibited from retaliating against, including taking or threatening adverse action, against any worker who refuses to report to or leave a workplace or worksite when the worker has a “reasonable belief” that the workplace or worksite is unsafe, or who are under an order to evacuate a workplace, worksite, worker’s home or the school of a worker’s child.
The law defines an “emergency condition” as any “conditions of disaster or extreme peril” caused by natural forces or a criminal act, or an order to evacuate a workplace, worker’s home or child’s school due to a natural disaster or criminal act.
In addition, the law prohibits employers from preventing employees from using their cellphones to seek emergency assistance or to communicate with someone to confirm they are safe in an emergency situation.
California Family Rights Act and Sick Leaves
AB 1041 changes the existing California Family Rights Act (CFRA), which grants workers the right to take up to 12 weeks of leave to take care for a family member. The new law expands the definition of who is considered a family member and allow employees to take time off to care for a “designated person”. The law also expands who an employee can take leave to care for under California’s paid sick leave law.
Beginning January 1, 2023, employees can take CFRA leave or paid sick leave to care for a “designated person.”
A “designated person”, for purposes of leave under the CFRA or paid sick leave, is defined as “any individual related by blood or whose association with the employee is the equivalent of a family relationship.”
AB 1949 requires employers with five or more employees to provide up to five days of bereavement leave to eligible employees (those employed for at least 30 days prior to commencement of leave) upon the death of a spouse, child, parent, sibling, grandparent, grandchild, domestic partner or parent-in-law.