California Considers New Employment Legislation

Employment Law

With the 2023 California legislative session underway, employers should keep an eye on several employment-related bills already pending.

  • Four-day workweek. Last year, lawmakers introduced a bill that would drop the standard workweek in California from 40 hours to 32 hours for nonexempt employees of employers with more than 500 employees. The bill failed to meet the deadlines for committee consideration but the proposed policy is back before the legislature this year as Assembly Bill 1100. As the measure succinctly states, “Existing law generally establishes that 8 hours of labor constitutes a day’s work and further establishes a 40-hour workweek. This bill would declare the intent of the Legislature to subsequently amend this bill to include provisions that would establish a 4-day workweek.”
  • Flexible work schedule. Pursuant to the California Workplace Flexibility Act, a nonexempt employee could request a flexible work schedule of workdays up to 10 hours per day in a 40-hour workweek without the requirement that an employer pay overtime for the hours worked in excess of eight hours in a given day. Senate Bill 703 would prescribe a method for calculating the payment of overtime for hours worked in excess of the permitted amounts and would establish requirements for termination of such agreements. The measure would except specified public employees as well as employees covered by collective bargaining.
  • Family caregiver obligation protection. Assembly Bill 524 would prohibit discrimination against employees with family caregiver obligations, adding the term to the list of protected classes in California. The bill defines “family caregiver status” as “a person who is a contributor to the care of one or more family members,” with “family member” including “a spouse, child, parent, sibling, grandparent, grandchild, domestic partner, or any other individual related by blood or whose association with the employee is the equivalent of a family relationship.”
  • Remote work accommodation request. An employee with a qualifying disability would be permitted to initiate a reasonable accommodation request to perform remote work, according to Senate Bill 731 if certain requirements are met, including that the employee performed their essential job functions remotely for at least six of the 24 months preceding the request. If the specified requirements are met, the bill would require an employer to grant the request, although the obligation to provide remote work as a reasonable accommodation would end if the employee could no longer perform all of their essential job functions remotely.
  • Sick leave increase. Accrual for sick leave would more than double under Senate Bill 616, from three to seven days. The measure—which has an effective date of January 1, 2024, if enacted—would redefine “full amount of leave” to mean seven days or 56 hours, with authorized limitation on the use of carryover sick leave also increased to seven days.
  • Joint liability for fast food franchisors. On the heels of the Fast Food Accountability and Standards Recovery (FAST) Act, enacted last year but currently delayed due to an effort to repeal via statewide referendum, lawmakers now have Assembly Bill 1228 on their plate. The proposed law, dubbed the Fast Food Franchisor Responsibility Act, would impose joint liability on fast food franchisors for the acts of their franchisees. AB 1228 would provide that a franchisor would share civil legal responsibility and liability for a franchisee’s violations of a host of state laws, including the Fair Housing and Employment Act, the Unfair Competition Law, the Private Attorneys General Act, and several Labor Code provisions (such as those regarding payment of wages, overtime, meal and rest breaks, immigration status, and contracts against public policy), as well as CalOSHA rules and general sanitation and health standards.

Why it matters: The 2023 legislative session still has many months to go, but employers should keep an eye on employment-related bills that could have a significant impact.

Manatt follows these developments closely through this practice and our Government Practice.



pursuant to New York DR 2-101(f)

© 2024 Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP.

All rights reserved