Bills of importance to California employers were passed by the California Legislature in the final days of the 2022 session, which ended yesterday.  Governor Gavin Newsom has until September 30, 2022, to sign or veto consequential measures including the following:

A New Council to Set Labor Standards for Large Fast Food Chains – AB 257

Assembly Bill 257, if signed by Governor Newsom, would mandate the creation of a 10-member Fast Food Council authorized to set minimum standards for wages, working hours, workplace health and safety and “the right to be free from discrimination and harassment in the workplace” for fast food sector employees.  If enacted, the Fast Food Accountability and Standards Recovery Act or FAST Recovery Act would govern all fast food restaurants in California that are part of a chain of 100 or more establishments in the U.S.  The minimum wage, maximum work hours and other standards set by the Council would, in most instances, override other provisions of state law.  The Council will not be able to set standards until a petition signed by 10,000 fast food employees is presented to the Department of Industrial Relations.  The bill bars the Council from setting a minimum wage for fast food sector employees in 2023 that is greater than $22 per hour.

Pay Transparency for Employees and Applicants – SB 1162

Senate Bill 1162 would require employers with 15 or more employees to include pay scales in any job postings.  “Pay scale” is defined as the salary or hourly wage range that the employer reasonably expects to pay for the position.  The measure also requires all employers to provide current employees with the pay scale for their positions upon request.  Current law only requires employers to provide applicants with a pay scale upon request, so this bill would broaden the pay transparency requirement.  It is not yet clear if the new requirements would apply to only positions performed from California or to California employers who post jobs anywhere, or both. The bill includes a fine of up to $10,000 per violation.  In addition to the pay transparency components, SB-1162 would increase reporting requirements for employers with 100 or more employees beyond what is currently required for EEO-1 reporting.

Supplemental Paid Sick Leave Extension – AB 152

Assembly Bill 152 extends California COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave provisions from September 30, 2022, the current expiration date, through December 31, 2022, allowing employees to utilize any unused COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave during the last three months of the year, although the bill does not increase the total amount of leave available. The bill also funds grants of up to $50,000 to reimburse small businesses and nonprofits for COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave paid out at any time in calendar year 2022.

Protection for Off-the-Job Marijuana Use – AB 2188

Assembly Bill 2188 would amend the California Fair Employment and Housing Act to make it unlawful for an employer to discriminate against a person for their use of cannabis off the job and away from the workplace.  In particular, the bill would prohibit employers from discriminating against applicants or employees on the basis of drug tests showing only the presence of nonpsychoactive cannabis metabolites in the person’s system.  Such metabolites may remain in a person’s body for weeks after the use of cannabis.  The bill would not bar employers from basing actions on either tests that identify the presence of THC (as opposed to metabolites) in a person’s saliva or other bodily fluids or tests of impairment as compared to the employee’s baseline performance.  The bill does not go so far as to protect cannabis use or impairment on the job.  

Protection for Employees Who Leave Work During Emergencies – SB 1044

Senate Bill 1044 would allow employees to leave work or refuse to report to work with impunity if they reasonably believe the worksite is unsafe during an “emergency condition.”  More specifically, the bill would make it unlawful for an employer to take or threaten adverse action against an employee for refusing to report to or for leaving a worksite during an emergency condition if the employee reasonably believes the work location is unsafe.  Under the bill, “emergency conditions” are circumstances where “natural forces or a criminal act” create conditions of “extreme peril to the safety of persons or property.”  The bill would also make it unlawful for an employer to bar the employee from using their cell phone or other device while on duty to let someone know they are safe, to call for emergency assistance or to assess the safety of the situation.  Pandemics are not emergency conditions under the bill. 

Our California Labor & Employment team will keep you up to date on the Governor’s actions on these and other important bills impacting California employers.

If we may help you, please contact one of the authors or your Fox Rothschild LLP counsel.

This post provides general information and does not constitute legal advice to any person with respect to any circumstance.  This post does not create an attorney-client relationship with any person.