Employers based in California and those conducting in business in the state must be aware of the several new laws and amendments that will come into effect in 2024. These changes will significantly impact employers’ operations in California.
1. Creation of Rebuttable Presumption of Retaliation:
- The State of California has broadened employee protections against disciplinary actions or termination within 90 days of engaging in a certain protected activity.
- Additionally, such retaliations by employers will now result in civil penalty of up to $10,000 per employee per violation.
2. Enabling Prosecution for California Labor Code Violations:
- Prosecutors in the State of California will now be able to pursue civil or criminal action for violations of the California labor code against an employer in their jurisdiction.
- Further such right to prosecute cannot be restricted by employers through the requirement of use of “Private Arbitration” to resolve such issues.
3. Expansion of Paid Sick Leave:
- Full-time employees in the State of California will now be able to obtain a paid sick leave for three to five days (or 40 hours) in a year.
- Additionally, there has been an expansion to the annual accrual limit from six days (or 48 hours) to 10 days (or 80 hours)
4. Implementation of “Reproductive Loss” Leave:
- Employers in the State of California are now required to offer a leave of up to five days (Unpaid or Paid) to any employee following a “reproductive loss event” (including failed adoption, failed surrogacy, miscarriage, stillbirth, or an unsuccessful assisted reproduction).
- Protected by confidentiality, employee can seek up to 20 days within a 12-month period and are protected from retaliation by employers.
5. Increase of State Minimum Wage:
- Starting January 01, 2024, the State Minimum Wage will now be raised to $16.00 per hour while the minimum exempt salary for California employees will rise to $66,560.
- Additionally, there has also been increase for industry specific wages, i.e. Fast-Food Workers will now be entitled to $20.00 per hour.
6. Introduction of “Workplace Violence Prevention Safety Plan”:
- Starting July 01, 2024, California will be the first state to require all employers to create an effective workplace violence prevention plan, train employees, and prepare/maintain records regarding workplace violence.
The Law also requires employers to:
- Implement requisite training when the plan is first established, and conduct these trainings on an annual basis.
- Keep a log of every workplace violence incident.
- Depending on the type of record, certain training records must be maintained for one to five years.
7. Restriction on Non-Compete Agreements:
- Starting January 01, 2024, the State will expand its pre-existing restriction on Non-Compete Agreements to employment agreements to agreements where the covenants have been executed outside the State.
- Further use of such covenants by employers will now be a civil violation that can lead to private cause of action against the employer.
State of California’s AB 1076 now requires all employers to contact all current or former employees both in writing via mail and email, who were employed after January 1, 2022, and had (or have) contracts containing a noncompete clause, informing them that such a clause is now void, by or before February 14, 2024. Non-compliance can constitute a violation of California’s Unfair Competition Law.
8. Requirement of Emergency or Disaster Declaration Information:
- Starting January 01, 2024, The State of California has expanded the information required in employers’ wage theft notices to include “the existence of a federal or state emergency or disaster declaration applicable to the county or counties where the employee is to be employed that affect employees’ health and safety during their employment”.
- Employers must bring their notices up to date with the new regulations. A new template is expected from the California Labor Commissioner’s office before March 01, 2024.
9. No Automatic Stay During Appeals of Motions to Compel Arbitration Decisions:
- The new amendment to the California Code of Civil Procedure, now allows the courts to use their discretion as to whether to stay proceedings while an appeal is heard and thereby not automatically staying trial court proceedings when a party appeals an order denying a motion to compel arbitration.
10. Use of Cannabis by Employees
- The California Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”) now prohibits an employer from discriminating against an employee or applicant because of the employee’s or applicant’s cannabis use off the job, and away from work.
- However, employers can continue to enforce any policies they have prohibiting employees from possessing, being impaired by, or using cannabis while on the job as the amendment does not impose any such restrictions on employers.
These new laws and regulations must be carefully examined and requisite changes must be implemented by the employers. If you have any additional questions, or you would like to verify your compliance on such issues please feel free to email us at email@example.com.