Since 2016, state, federal, and local legislatures have been proactive in passing new labor laws to protect the rights of workers. In particular, it is becoming increasingly common for cities and counties to enact laws that bridge the gap where state and federal legislation proves insufficient. As the year comes to an end, employers across the country must prepare for several of these new laws to go into effect in 2023.

Here are a few of the most significant new labor laws that will change the workplace in 2023.

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Minimum Wage 2023 Updates and Rates

The most recent federal minimum wage rate increase occurred in July 2009, when it was raised to $7.25 per hour. As the cost of living in many areas has outpaced wages, states and municipalities across the country have implemented higher rates. Since several large metropolitan areas successfully implemented schedules that gradually increased the minimum wage over the years. Effective Jan 1, 2023, Los Angeles’s minimum wage has risen to $15.50 per hour. As of Jan 1, 2023, Seattle’s minimum wage has risen to $18.69 an hour, with some institutions paying a minimum wage of $16.50.

Given the lack of action in updating the federal minimum wage, the following states will feature initiatives addressing this controversial issue on their ballots in November 2016:

  • Arizona. Since Proposition 206 passed in November of 2016, the state’s minimum wage grew from $8.05 per hour in 2016 to $13.85 in 2023.

  • Colorado. Colorado established Initiative 101 in 2016, which proposed an amendment to the state constitution that raised the minimum wage to $9.30 per hour— with subsequent increases of $0.90 each January until the rate reaches $12 in 2020. The current minimum wage in 2023 in Colorado is $13.65.

  • Maine. Question 4 on the November 2016 ballot asked Maine voters whether they approve increasing the minimum wage from $7.50 to $9 per hour in 2017, with annual increases of $1 each year until the rate equals $12 in 2020. Today, Maine’s minimum wage is $13.80 an hour.

  • Washington. As one of the more ambitious minimum wage propositions, the State of Washington’s Initiative 1433 raised the hourly minimum wage to $11 in 2017 and $13.50 by 2020. Effective Jan 1 2023, Washington’s minimum wage varies from $18.69-$16.50.

Although the federal minimum wage has not been increased in several years, federal contractors must begin paying their employees at least $15.00 per hour—in contrast to the old rate of $10.15 in 2017. This increase is in accordance with Executive Order 14026, which was signed by President Biden in April of 2021. 

Meanwhile, several municipalities—including Long Beach and San Matteo, California—adopted plans to gradually increase minimum wage rates beginning on January 1, 2017. Today, minimum wage in 2023 for Long Beach and San Matteo is $16.75 per hour.

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Paid Sick Leave

With many companies abandoning vacation and sick time policies in favor of one consolidated Paid Time Off (PTO) policy, employees are much less inclined to take off of work when they are sick. Instead, employees try to save as much of their PTO as possible for much-needed vacations. This trend has negative implications for the workplace, as it is becoming increasingly common for employees to come to work when sick and spread their germs around the office. As a result, the elimination of paid sick time could lead to decreased workforce productivity, safety, and morale.

In order to encourage employees to take care of their own health—and that of their coworkers—many cities and states are enacting their own paid sick leave laws. As one of the early adopters of this type of law, the State of California passed the Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act (HWHFA) in 2014. The initiative was updated in 2016. The amended HWHFA grants employees paid sick leave after 30 days of employment within the year of their start date. The HWHFA also requires employers to provide employees with one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours that they work. 

Contractors and Paid Sick Leave in 2023

The federal government adopted a similar policy by requiring contractors covered by Executive Order 13658 to offer paid sick leave for workers involved in new contracts beginning on or after January 1, 2017. The following cities and states also enacted paid sick leave laws in 2017 and beyond:

  • Arizona. Arizona’s Proposition 206 entitles employees to at least one hour of paid sick leave per 30 hours worked.

  • Washington. Initiative 1433 requires employers to offer employees one hour of paid sick leave for every 40 hours worked.

  • Vermont. As of January 2017, the Vermont Sick Leave Law requires employers in Vermont to grant employees a minimum of three paid sick days per year. In 2019, Vermont increased this number to 40 hours, or five days for the calendar year.

  • Chicago, IL. On March 13, 2023, Illinois Gov. J.B. Prizker initiated the Paid Leave for All Workers Act. The Act is the first statewide paid leave law in Illinois, and mandates paid leave for any employee, for any reason. On January 1, 2024, covered employees accrue one hour of paid leave per 40 hours worked — up to 40 hours of paid sick leave per the 12 month calendar year.

  • Minneapolis, MN. In January of  2024, employees in Minneapolis will be entitled to one hour of sick time per 30 hours worked, up to 48 hours per year. Minnesota’s Earned Sick and Safe Leave Law (ESSL) requires an employee to work at least 80 hours prior to utilizing sick time.

As states, municipalities, and the federal government seek to improve quality of life for workers, it is crucial for employers to pay attention to pending legislation in their areas—labor law changes will not be slowing down anytime soon.