A Review of 2022 Labor & Employment Legislation in California

The California Legislature passed a number of new and important labor and employment laws during its 2022 session.

Pay equity remained a key issue as California legislators amended two of the state's equal pay laws. First, the Legislature mandated that certain employers disclose a "pay scale" on job postings. Second, the Legislature broadened the categories of pay data covered employers must report to the California Civil Rights Department; significantly, this requirement now includes reporting salary information of "employees hired through labor contractors." These amendments reflect the Legislature's continued focus on pay equity issues and should create urgency for employers both inside and outside of California to assess their pay practices and consider the need for pay equity audits.

The Legislature also updated its COVID-19 laws, removing some requirements while extending others. For example, the Legislature relaxed certain reporting requirements following a workplace COVID-19 exposure. California employers should expect some much-needed regulatory stability on the COVID-19 front, as Cal/OSHA is expected to roll out its nonemergency COVID-19 standard in early 2023.

The Legislature also actively regulated leave issues. Perhaps most notably, the Legislature expanded the definition of "family member" under California's paid and unpaid leave laws to include "designated persons," although the definition of that term differs depending on whether paid or unpaid leave is at issue. Additionally, most California employers must now offer employees up to five days of unpaid bereavement leave following the death of a family member.

In light of the Supreme Court's decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization,the California Legislature also passed many abortion-related laws that will affect employers. For example, new California laws will protect employee access to abortion; prohibit employers from disclosing or discriminating against employees based on reproductive health choices; and ban certain employers from complying with out-of-state laws that seek to restrict abortion access.

As 2023 arrives, employers with California workforces must not only pay attention to new laws passed in 2022, but also ensure compliance with previously-passed laws taking effect in 2023—most importantly, the California Privacy Rights Act ("CPRA"). On January 1, 2023, the CPRA eliminated the employer and business-to-business exemptions of the California Consumer Privacy Act ("CCPA"). Accordingly, employers will need to comply with the full panoply of rights and obligations under the CCPA and CPRA, which include additional notice obligations to employees and expanded employee privacy rights. Although enforcement will not begin until July 1, 2023, employers should revise their processes and procedures to come into compliance in the new year.

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