New California Employment Laws for 2023 and What You Can Do to Be Compliant
New California Employment Laws for 2023 and What You Can Do to Be Compliant
by Shannon Oswald
May 09, 2023

From paid sick leave to the minimum wage, there are new employment laws in California that took effect in 2023. If you’re an employer in the Golden State, here’s a recap of the changes you should know, plus actions you can take to get in compliance with the law.


Who – All California employers with five or more employees

WhatAssembly Bill 1949 requires employers to grant employees five days of unpaid bereavement leave (that need not be taken consecutively) for the death of a family member, including a spouse, child, parent, sibling, grandparent, grandchild, domestic partner or parent-in-law.

Bereavement leave can be unpaid, but employees can use any existing PTO, vacation or sick time while on bereavement leave and employers can request documentation of the death of the family member.

What you should do
  • Ensure your company handbook includes five days for bereavement leave.
  • Send all employees a memo communicating your updated policy and obtain employee signatures confirming receipt of the new policy.
  • Inform all managers that employees can use their available PTO, vacation or sick time during bereavement leave.

California Family Rights Act and Paid Sick Leave

Who – All California employers with five or more employees

WhatAssembly Bill 1041 expands employee California Family Rights Act (CFRA) and paid sick leave rights to allow an employee to take such leave to care for a "designated person," in addition to other family members previously specified by law. “Designated person” means any individual related by blood or whose association with the employee is the equivalent of a family relationship. The designated person may be identified by the employee at the time the employee requests the leave. An employer may limit an employee to one designated person per 12-month period for family care and medical leave.

What you should do
  • Update your paid sick leave and CFRA policy to include that employees can take leave to care for a designated person.
  • Send all employees a memo communicating your updated policy and obtain employee signatures confirming receipt of the new policy.

Wages and Hours

Who – All California employers

What – Minimum wage increase and exempt salary increase

Statewide Minimum Wage

California’s minimum wage for all employers regardless of size increased to $15.50 per hour.

Exempt Employee Minimum Salaries

The minimum salary threshold for exempt employees increased to $1,240 per week ($64,480 per year) for employers regardless of their employee count.

The minimum hourly rate for exempt computer software employees will increase to $53.80 per hour (or an annual salary of $112,065.20).

Local Minimum Wages

The hourly minimum wage will also increase within individual cities in California — for example, West Hollywood will have three minimum wage requirements:

  • West Hollywood (hotels): $18.35 (no change)
  • West Hollywood (49 or fewer employees): $17.00
  • West Hollywood (50 or more employees): $17.50

What you should do

  • Audit your current hourly and salary employees to ensure they meet or exceed the minimum wage requirements.
  • Complete a Personnel Action Notice (PAN) form for any employees who receive a change in pay rate due to the California minimum wage increase.


Who – All California employers

What – There are several bills enacted:

  • Assembly Bill 2693 updated the state’s COVID-19 notice requirements:

    Under existing law, if an employer receives a notice of potential exposure to COVID-19, they are required to take action within one business day of the notice, including providing written notice to all employees on the premises at the same worksite where they may have been exposed to COVID-19. This requirement is extended until January 1, 2024.

    However, this bill provides an employer an additional method to satisfy the notification requirements by prominently displaying a notice for 15 days. The notice must include the dates on which an employee with a confirmed case of COVID-19 was on the worksite within the infectious period and the location of the exposure.

AB 2693 also removes the requirement that employers report cases to their local health departments.

  • AB 1751 extends the employer requirement to report COVID-19 cases to their workers’ compensation carriers, for workers that contact COVID-19 during an outbreak, until January 1, 2024.
What you should do
  • Continue to provide written notice within one business day of your knowledge of a positive COVID-19 case to people at the worksite that may have been exposed to COVID-19, either individually or by displaying a notice.
  • Notify your workers’ compensation carrier in the event of a COVID-19 workplace outbreak.

Email of Workplace Postings

Who – All California employers

WhatSenate Bill 657 provides that in any instance in which an employer is required to physically post information, the employer may also distribute that information to employees by email with the document or documents attached.

What you should do

  • Provide the most current physical postings of required information on display in a common area of the workplace.
  • Provide digital postings of required information in an email during the onboarding process.

Retaliation for Refusing to Work in Emergency Conditions

Who – All California employers

What – Senate Bill 1044 protects employees from retaliation for refusing to work in "emergency conditions." Employees will be entitled to leave work or not come in during emergency conditions if they have a reasonable belief that the workplace is unsafe. You can require employees to provide notice in advance when feasible or, if advance notice isn’t feasible, as soon as possible. This new law specifically entitles employees to use their cell phones or other devices to get emergency assistance, communicate with someone to make sure they’re safe, or assess the safety of a situation during an emergency condition.

An emergency condition means either:

  • A condition of disaster or extreme peril to people or property at work caused by natural forces or a criminal act
  • An order to evacuate from work, the employee’s home or the employee’s child’s school because of a natural disaster or a criminal act

A health pandemic does not qualify as an emergency condition.

What you should do

  • Review your attendance policy and, if it requires advance notice for absences, include an exception when advance notice isn’t feasible because of emergency conditions.

Reproductive Health

Who – All California employers

WhatAssembly Bill 523 makes it unlawful to discriminate against an employee or job applicant based on their “reproductive health decision-making.”

Reproductive health decision-making includes, but is not limited to, a decision to use or access a particular drug, device, product or medical service for reproductive health.

What you should do

  • Update your company handbook (EEO and harassment) policies to include this new legislation.
  • Send all employees a memo communicating your updated policy and obtain employee signatures confirming receipt of the new policy.

COMING IN 2024: Cannabis Use

Who – All California employers

What – Beginning January 1, 2024, employers will be prohibited from discriminating against an employee or job applicant based on the person’s use of cannabis off the job and away from the workplace.

Employers may still conduct preemployment drug testing and refuse to hire someone based on a valid preemployment drug screening that doesn’t screen for non-psychoactive cannabis metabolites.

The new law also doesn’t permit an employee to possess, be impaired by or use cannabis on the job, or affect the rights or obligations of an employer to maintain a drug- and alcohol-free workplace.

What you should do

  • Ensure your company handbook policies are updated by 2024 to include this new provision.
  • Notify your drug testing vendor to eliminate testing for non-psychoactive cannabis metabolites, beginning January 1, 2024.

If you need assistance with identifying gaps in your employment law compliance, contact our Human Resources Outsourcing experts, or learn more about how to leverage your workforce to accelerate your business.

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Shannon Oswald - Consulting | Armanino
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