Other HR Changes to Come to California in 2023 - A gavel and law book with 2023 on the cover

Let’s close out the year with a lightning round of some final items to come in 2023 throughout California.

Fair Employment and Housing Act – New Protected Category January 1, 2023

The Contraceptive Equity Act of 2022 brought us a new protected category under the FEHA: reproductive health decision-making. Some examples of protected actions are an individual’s decision to use or access a certain contraceptive drug or device, exercising their rights to medical services for reproductive health, or disclosing information relating to reproductive health decisions. Employers cannot discriminate against any employee or applicant, or make it a condition of employment, to disclose such information.

This Act will also require most health benefit plans to provide coverage for contraceptives or other related medical services, such as vasectomies, in accordance with California’s Health and Safety Code and Insurance Code beginning January 1, 2024.

Emergency Conditions – January 1, 2023

This new law prohibits any form of retaliation, adverse employment action, or threatening adverse action against an employee who refuses to report work (or leaves early) when they have a reasonable belief that an emergency condition is causing their workplace to be unsafe. An “emergency condition” can include threats to the workplace, natural disasters that affected the workplace, criminal acts that may cause an employee to feel unsafe, evacuation orders to an employee’s home, or the school/childcare of the employee’s child. Luckily, this new law strictly excludes health pandemics – so COVID would not fall under this protection. This law also excludes workers whose main role is to render aid or services in emergency conditions, such as paramedics and firefighters, those who work at a health care/residential care facility and provide direct patient care, and employees working on a military base.

Lastly, employers may not prevent an employee from accessing or using their cell phones to seek emergency assistance, assess the safety of the situation, or communicate with a person to verify their safety during an emergency condition.

The subjective piece is the “reasonable belief the workplace is unsafe.” The law defines this as a circumstance that would cause a reasonable person to feel they are in real danger of death or serious injury if they remain at work. This can vary from person to person, so we recommend reaching out to TPPS if you have concerns.

Cal/OSHA COVID Updates – mid-January 2023

California’s state of emergency is set to end on February 28, 2023. As such, Cal/OSHA has decided to remove the COVID Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS) and instead will require non-emergency COVID regulations to be added to the Injury and Illness Prevention Program (IIPP). All employers with one or more employees are required to have an IIPP and will need to update theirs accordingly.

Although Cal/OSHA has finalized their portion, the Office of Administrative Law still needs to sign off. We estimate this will happen about mid-January 2023. TPPS will send updates in January!

Navigating California’s everchanging laws can be complicated – some of these updates may require action on your part. TPPS is here to support you, and your managers, to better understand these changes and what they mean for your individual business or industry. If you need help with these action items, please reach out!

a large crane is standing next to a building

Executive Order on Use of Project Labor Agreements for Federal Construction Projects

On February 4, 2022, President Biden signed an executive order affecting federal contractors involved in “large-scale construction contracts.” The Executive Order on Use of Project Labor Agreements For Federal Construction Projects requires that project labor agreements (PLA) be in place before being awarded a contract by the federal government that are estimated at $35 million or more. 

Though effective immediately, implementation and enforcement cannot begin until the Federal Acquisition Regulatory Council proposes regulations. The Regulatory Council has until June 4, 2022, to provide such regulation. Further, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget must also issue related guidance surrounding the new PLA requirements.

Distinctively, the Order does not require that construction companies unionize or already be in a union. Instead, it only binds federal construction contractors’ employees to the terms of a PLA. As many federal contractors are aware, there are four key provisions a PLA must include to be valid:

1. Guarantees against strikes, lockouts, and similar actions.

2. Mutually binding procedures for resolving labor disputes.

3. Mechanisms to promote labor-management cooperation on “matters of mutual interest and concern, including productivity, quality of work, safety, and health;” 

4. Terms that fully conform to federal law, regulations, and other executive orders. 

The Order will not be enforced on projects controlled by state and/or local governments, even if such projects receive federal funding. The PLA requirement for large-scale construction projects also has three limited exemption scenarios. The EO will not apply if it would:

1. Substantially reduce potential bidders for a project,

2. Otherwise, be inconsistent with federal law, or

3. Result in inefficiencies, such as short-term projects, simple projects without complexity, projects involving one craft or trade, or projects of a particularly specialized nature.

More updates on the specific regulations created by this EO are expected mid-year. Keep an eye on our updates for more in the coming months! 

If you need support, just ask us!