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California dentists will comply with a dozen new employment laws beginning in 2023

Protected bereavement leave, required pay scales in job postings among laws effective Jan. 1

January 10, 2023 4156
Employee Handbook

Quick Summary:

The state laws run the gamut of employment concerns, from a new requirement to include the pay scale for positions in job postings to a law that protects workers who refuse to report to work during emergency conditions. Many laws took effect Jan. 1, while others allow employers a grace period to fully comply. Several laws extend requirements that were due to expire in December 2022. Follow links to CDA articles and resources for more details and help with compliance.

The new year always brings new laws for employers in California, and 2023 is no exception for dental practices. The state laws run the gamut of employment concerns, from a new requirement to include the pay scale for positions in job postings to a law that protects workers who refuse to report to work during emergency conditions.

Many laws took effect Jan. 1, while others allow employers a grace period to fully comply. Several laws extend requirements that were due to expire in December 2022, like the extension of current wage replacement rates for California’s Paid Family Leave and State Disability Insurance programs.

Some laws impact employers of every size, while others, like the requirement to include pay scales in job postings, impact employers who have a specific number of employees.

Employers who are incurring increased business costs due to compliance with required Paid Family Leave may find relief through a new grant program. 

Read on for a summary of the employment laws. CDA last year published detailed information about many of these laws to help members get ahead of compliance.

Expanded Paid Family Leave and State Disability Benefits 

Legislation signed into law last fall extends the current wage replacement rates for California’s Paid Family Leave and State Disability Insurance programs, which were scheduled to sunset at the end of 2023, and will increase the PFL and SDI rates to 90% for low-wage workers (compared to the current 70%) and 70% for all other wage earners beginning Jan. 1, 2025. 

A grant program launched last year may help eligible small businesses offset the costs incurred  when an employee is out on leave, such as cross-training existing staff or hiring and training employees. The California Paid Family Leave Grant provides eligible businesses with grants up to $2,000 per employee on PFL. As of this article’s publication date, funding is not available, but businesses are encouraged to review the eligibility requirements and sign up for the wait list. The grant period ends May 31, 2024, or when funds run out.

Employees entitled to five days of protected bereavement leave

Employees with five or more employees are required as of Jan. 1 to provide at least five days of unpaid bereavement leave to employees for the death of a family member, including a domestic partner or extended family member. Employees are eligible for the leave if they have been employed for at least 30 days before their leave begins. Read the CDA article for more details. CDA members can also log in to use the new sample bereavement policy.

Workers can now take PSL and CFRA to care for a ‘designated person’

As of Jan. 1, employees may take California Paid Sick Leave or California Family Rights Act (unpaid) leave to care for a “designated person” to be identified by the employee at the time they request the leave. Employers can limit the employee to one designated person per 12 months. Employers are already required to provide PSL and CFRA leave for the care of qualifying family members such as a child, parent, spouse or registered domestic partner. Get more details in the CDA article. CDA also offers member-only resources on CFRA and Paid Sick Leave.

Reproductive health decision-making now a protected class 

The Contraceptive Equity Act of 2022 amends California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act to make it unlawful to discriminate or retaliate against an employee or job applicant based on their “reproductive health decision-making,” which includes a decision to use or access a particular drug, device, product or medical service for reproductive health. Employers cannot require a job applicant to disclose information about their reproductive health decision-making as a condition of hiring or continued employment. The requirement took effect Jan. 1 and applies to employers of every size. Other provisions of the new law do not apply to dental practices.

Legal protection for workers during emergency conditions

A new state law prohibits employers from taking or threatening retaliatory action against eligible employees who leave or refuse to report to the workplace due to a qualifying evacuation order or if the workplace is in an emergency-affected area and the employee has a reasonable belief that the workplace is unsafe. The law took effect Jan. 1 and exempts only certain workers such as first responders. Get the details in the CDA article. 

Increase in mileage reimbursement rate for business use

As of Jan. 1, the standard mileage rate for the use of a vehicle for business use is now 65.5 cents — up 3 cents from the previous rate in place July-December 2022. The mileage rate for charitable organizations remains at 14 cents. Read more in the IRS news release.

Increase in state minimum wage for all employers

California’s minimum wage rose Jan. 1 to $15.50 for employers of every size as a result of inflation, as a CDA article published last year explains. However, some cities and counties have minimum wages or “living wages” that are higher than the state minimum wage, and employers must pay the higher wage. The minimum wage for exempt employees is $64,480. CDA members can log in to view a resource listing minimum wage and Paid Sick Leave ordinances by city and county.

COVID-19 workers’ compensation presumption extended

Legislation signed into law last fall extended by one year the disputable workers’ compensation presumption for workers who contract COVID-19 under certain conditions. The presumption, as established in 2020, was due to expire Jan. 1 but will now expire Jan. 1, 2024. As part of this law, employers with five or more employees are required to report COVID-19 cases to their workers’ compensation carriers, as CDA first reported in September 2020.

COVID-19 notification requirement extended

Also extended through Jan. 1, 2024, is the requirement that all California employers notify employees of a potential worksite exposure to COVID-19 within one business day for a period of 15 days. CDA has a sample notice that outlines all the information the notice must contain. (COVID-19-related resources are open to all dentists, including nonmembers.)

The new law also removed the requirement that employers report COVID-19 cases to their local health departments. Instead, major outbreaks are reportable to Cal/OSHA.

Pay scales must be provided in job postings

California employers with 15 or more employees are required as of Jan. 1 to include the pay scales of positions in any job posting or advertisement and to provide the pay scale to any third party the employer uses to advertise the position. Also under the new law, the employer must provide, if requested by the employee, the pay scale for the employee’s currently held position. A CDA article published last November explains more, including required records-maintenance. 

Off-duty cannabis use is now a protected class 

Beginning Jan. 1, 2024, most 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 will still be able to conduct preemployment drug testing, and an employer could still refuse to hire someone based on a valid preemployment drug screening that doesn’t screen for non-psychoactive cannabis metabolites. Although passed last year, the law’s delayed implementation date gives employers time to update or create drug test policies. Learn more in the CDA article.

CalSavers Retirement Savings Program expands to all businesses 

Employers who have five to 50 employees and do not sponsor a retirement plan are already required by state law to enable CalSavers participation for their workers. A new law requires employers with one to four employees to either establish a payroll-deposit retirement savings program or register their workers in CalSavers no later than December 2025. CalSavers is the state’s Roth IRA voluntary retirement savings program for workers who do not have access to a retirement plan at work. Get all the details in the CDA article or register your business for CalSavers now.

Rounding practices on payroll under heavy scrutiny 

Finally, while not a new law, employers should ensure they are compensating nonexempt employees for every minute worked, which should be construed to include the performance of any work essential to performing the employee’s job duties, such as starting and getting a computer fully booted up. 

A California court recently ruled that starting computers or otherwise preparing equipment necessary to perform principal activities was “integral and indispensable to the work” and therefore compensable, an article by SHRM explains. Other courts have ruled similarly.

Use CDA resources, keep track of compliance deadlines

CDA members can track more compliance deadlines and find dozens of sample policies, forms, templates and other resources to help them comply with laws and regulations.