New year, new laws. Every year the California State Legislature deliberates and passes new legislation that comes into effect January 1 of the New Year. While passed in the previous year, this gives employers and employees alike the ability to adjust their rules and expectations accordingly. Sometimes, laws go into effect even later than the New Year, so it is important to keep all of these changes in mind when planning your work life for this upcoming year.

California is known as one of the most progressive states for worker’s rights. Understanding your rights is key to staying gainfully employed and making sure no one is taking advantage of your skills and abilities. As an employer in California it is critical to stay up to date with the newest rules and regulations to make sure you stay in compliance and stay out of trouble.

2023 Minimum Wage Increase

Extra money helps everyone. The CA legislature passed a law that all employers regardless of size must pay a minimum wage of $15.50 per hour. This also changed the laws for exempt employees as well. Exempt employees must make a minimum annual salary of $64,480. This is equal to double the minimum wage working full time, or 40 hours a week.

Reporting Pay Data and Disclosures

Transparency is a big focus of the legislature this year. Beginning on May 10, 2023 all employers of over 100 employees or more must submit a report to the California Civil Rights Department. This report must include information about the average and median hourly rate of employees based on their race, color, and sex. On January 1, 2023 all employers are now required to include the pay scale in any job posting. This includes websites like Monster, LinkedIn, or Indeed.

Sick Leave Expansion

California’s legislature has passed a law that allows the employee to care for a designated person when sick. This expands upon the previous laws that only previously allowed for immediate family members to anyone that is related by blood or has an equivalent relationship. This is great for non-traditional families and LGBTQ+ families. This allows for the employee to take unpaid time off in accordance with the California Familiy Rights Act and the Healthy Workplaces Healthy Families Act.

New Discrimination Protections

Known for its progressive policies, California passed new protections for those who like to indulge in their own time. Previously, the usage of cannabis, a schedule 1 drug could be screened for during pre-employment and other employment drug screenings. The usage of this substance could be grounds for not hiring or terminating an individual employee due to past usage. However, starting January 1, 2024, discrimination based on past or current use of cannabis is illegal. AB 2188 mandates that employees who use cannabis off the clock and away from the workplace, as well as people who were found to have traces in their hair, blood, or urine cannot be discriminated against under this new law. This does not protect every employee though. Federal employees as well as employees in the transportation industry are not covered.

Critically, this does not prevent employers from maintaining a safe work environment, protect the possession of the substance at work, and does not protect employers who are under the influence during work hours. This bill only protects most employees’ off-the-clock use of cannabis.

California Employment Laws to Keep in Mind

One of the most important employment laws in California is the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). This law prohibits discrimination and harassment in the workplace based on race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, and other protected characteristics. Employers must also provide reasonable accommodations to employees with disabilities.

Similarly, the California Family Rights act provides eligible employees with 12 weeks of protected unpaid leave that was expanded upon this year. Making sure that you are aware of the basic laws of the state help you know your rights in case anything ever comes up.



This is not an exhaustive list of the new laws that went into effect this year. Making sure you are up to date with all of the current laws and regulations surrounding employment is important. These laws exist to protect employees from discrimination, retaliation, and other forms of mistreatment in the workplace. As an employee, it is important to protect your rights in the workplace. The law changes every year, and as a California employee, it is your duty to know your rights so you can protect yourself against discrimination, harassment, and unequal treatment in the workplace. As an employer, it is your duty to make sure that you are following all of the laws and regulations that the state creates. Understanding your obligations to your employers is critical to keep your business and employees profitable and happy.