New Laws & Pending Legislation
New Laws & Pending Legislation
Introducing Our Newsletter
As part of a new service for Carlson & Jayakumar’s clients and friends, we will be providing periodic updates on pending legislation and new cases impacting California employers and those in the healthcare field. The California Legislature regularly offers up a host of new laws that anyone with an employee (or independent contractor) ought to know about. We hope these briefings help.
Our aim is to provide a primer on what is happening in Sacramento, Washington, D.C., and the courts. We will let you know what is happening legislatively, any inside information we gather, and the possible impact on your business. But we don’t want to inundate you, so we plan for these to be periodic and brief.
We will divide our efforts into three broad categories:
- Employment laws
- Healthcare laws
- General interest
Often categories overlap, so you will want to check out each one.
If you need a deeper analysis of these new laws or potential laws, please reach out to one of us and we will do a deep dive for you. Also, if you know of others that would like our updates, please forward this and encourage them to subscribe to our newsletter. If you do not want to receive these client updates, simply click the “Unsubscribe” link at the bottom of this newsletter.
A Quick Recap of 2023
While we generally will look forward to pending legislation or recent case-law developments, we will begin by looking back. Here are some of the new laws you should (already) be aware of impacting employers and those in healthcare. And, occasionally, we’ll let you know about some of the more light-hearted (at least in our view) bills under review.
Many of the new statutes this year fall into distinct categories. There are some impacting workers’ wages, leave, and health. Plus, there are several extending COVID-19 measures for another year, even though the State of Emergency has officially ended. We will also look at a few miscellaneous-type laws that don’t fit as neatly into any one group. In this update, however, we’ll just focus on wage issues.
Wages – Increasing Minimums, Publication, and Retirement
The minimum wage for all workers in California rose to (at least) $15.50 per hour on January 1st. This was a bigger jump for smaller employers than the year prior. Going forward, there will be an annual CPI adjustment of up to 3.5%. Given inflation lately, another relatively high increase can be expected. Plus, there are at least 39 cities and counties that have their own minimum wage ordinances, which set a higher minimum than the state. Where an employer is under such an ordinance, the higher rate applies. Also note, the local ordinances often have differences in rates based on the number of employees.
The Cities of Los Angeles and Downey have stayed ordinances giving healthcare workers a $25.00 per hour minimum. Successful referendum petitions have them on hold until at least the November 2024 election. These ordinances originally passed as part of a union effort to get city-by-city increases for healthcare workers.
Separately, believe it or not, the Industrial Welfare Commission increased the monthly wages for both sheepherders (formerly “shepherds,” we believe) and goat herders, too. Doesn’t sound particularly “Industrial,” but it happened, nonetheless.
New Reporting Rules for Larger Employers
Senate Bill 1162 is the new law that will provide fresh challenges to all employers when it comes to wages and documentation. Employers with 100 or more employees already had to file an annual report on the race, ethnicity, and gender of their employees. But now, the report must include average hourly rates in job categories, broken down by race, ethnicity, and gender. This report was due in May 2023, and a new report must be submitted each year thereafter. And a separate report must be filed if a company uses outside contractors. If you have multiple locations, each one needs to file. Employers who fail to submit the required report may be subject to civil penalties of up to $100 per employee or more for subsequent violations.
New Disclosure Rules for Smaller Employers
SB 1162 also adds disclosure rules for much smaller employers. Now everyone with 15 or more employees must have pay scales included when listing a job opening and current employees can request pay-scale information for various positions. The employer must keep records of titles and wage history for each employee for three years after termination. Plus, potential employers cannot ask about an applicant’s salary history. Failure to comply with these pay-transparency laws can result in a civil penalty of $100 to $10,000 per violation.
Last, Senate Bill 1126 increased the number of employers—now all those with just one employee or more—required to provide either a retirement plan or participate in CalSavers, the state’s retirement program.
Next time we will look at the laws impacting employees’ health, leave, and other activities. We will also get healthcare specific and dive into “gender-affirming” care, increased malpractice caps, mental-health privacy issues, COVID-based legislation, and Dobbs-related legislation.
If you have any questions or have a topic, bill, or case you’d like us to analyze, send us a note at email@example.com.
Keith W. Carlson and Nima A. Jalali