December 27, 2022
At the start of 2023, numerous new laws and regulations will take effect. This article will provide a brief description of some of these new laws and regulations that will affect employers in California as of January 1, 2023.
COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave (“SPSL”) expires on December 31, 2022. However, if an employee takes SPSL prior to December 31, 2022, that SPSL shall be continued into 2023 if it is a continuous leave and the employee has SPSL hours left over. As a practical example, if an employee starts SPSL on December 30, 2022, and needed to use it continuously through the first week of January 2023, the employee would be entitled to do so, so long as the employee has enough SPSL hours to cover the leave.
Under existing law adopted under Assembly Bill 685, employers were generally required to provide notice within one business day to employees and other who may have been exposed to COVID-19 in the workplace. Originally, the notice requirements were set to expire on January 1, 2023. However, Assembly Bill 2693 (“AB 2693”) extends the statutory COVID-19 notice requirements to January 1, 2024 and gives employers another option for complying with these notification requirements. As an alternative, employers may provide written notice, subject to certain requirements, to employees by prominently displaying a notice to alert employees to potential COVID-19 exposure and keeping a log of all dates the notice required by this section was posted at the workplace. AB 2693 also removes the requirement that employers report cases to their local health department.
Assembly Bill 1751 (“AB 1751”) extends the rebuttable presumption in certain workers compensation cases that death or injury to COVID-19 is work-related, i.e., that the employee contracted the virus in the course and scope of employment. The presumption was set to expire on January 1, 2023 but is now extended to January 1, 2024.
Senate Bill 1044 (“SB 1044”) takes effect on January 1, 2023 and adds a new chapter of the Labor Code entitled Workers’ Rights in Emergencies. SB 1044 makes it unlawful for employers to take or threaten adverse actions against any employee because the employee refused to report to or left a workplace within an area affected by an emergency condition due to a reasonable belief that it is unsafe due to an emergency condition.
An “emergency condition” is defined as either “conditions of disaster or extreme peril to the safety of persons or property at the workplace or worksite caused by natural forces or a criminal act” or “an order to evacuate a workplace, a worksite, a worker’s home, or the school of a worker’s child due to natural disaster or a criminal act.” An “emergency condition” does not include a health pandemic. “A reasonable belief that the workplace or worksite is unsafe” means that a reasonable person, under the circumstances known to the employee at the time, would conclude there is a real danger of death or serious injury if that person enters or remains on the premises.”
In addition, SB 1044 prohibits an employer from preventing any private or public sector employee from accessing the employee’s mobile device or other communications device for seeking emergency assistance, assessing the safety of the situation, or communicating with a person to confirm their safety.
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