2024 California Labor & Employment Laws
Employment law changes are crucial for businesses as they directly impact the framework governing employer-employee relationships, influencing workplace dynamics and policies.
As the first month of the new year comes to a close, California employers should already know about the current changes made to state law, but just in case you missed it, here are the present enactments and updates to anticipate for 2024.
California State Minimum Wage Increase
The 2024 CA State minimum wage has increased as follows:
- CA businesses of all sizes are expected to pay minimum $16/hour (2023 was $15.50/hour)
- White collar (salary) exempt employees must receive at least $66,560 per year.
- Licensed physicians and surgeons are exempt from state overtime requirements if they receive a minimum hourly rate of $101.22 per hour (2023 was $97.99/hour).
– Please note: Many California cities and counties have enacted their own adoption of minimum wage laws and these wages may be more than what state law requires.
Paid Sick Leave (SB 616)
Senate bill (SB) 616, significantly expands California’s existing paid sick leave law (i.e., the Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014). Paid sick leave entitlement: Under SB 616, an employee is now entitled to five days or forty hours of paid sick leave. Previously, employees were entitled to three days or twenty-four hours.
Noncompete Agreements and Notice Requirements (SB 699, AB 1076)
SB 699 prohibits employers from entering into or attempting to enforce noncompete agreements with employees. The new law establishes that noncompete agreements are void in California regardless of where the employee worked when the employee entered into the agreement and/or where the employee signed the agreement. Additionally, newly signed AB 1076 requires employers to notify current employees and former employees (employed after January 1, 2022) in writing by February 14, 2024, that any noncompete agreements they may have signed are void.
Reproductive Leave Loss for Employees (SB 848)
SB 848 allows eligible employees to take up to five days of unpaid leave following a “reproductive loss event.” Employees experiencing a reproductive loss and wishing to take a leave must be employed by an employer with at least five employees for at least thirty days prior to the commencement of the leave. The law defines a “reproductive loss event” as the day or, for a multiple-day event, the final day of a failed adoption, failed surrogacy, miscarriage, stillbirth, or an unsuccessful assisted reproduction.
Arbitration Enforcement (SB 365)
SB 365 amends California’s Code of Civil Procedure (CCP) to state that: “the perfecting of such an appeal shall not automatically stay any proceedings in the trial court during the pendency of the appeal.”
Employers will see this new law come into play when a court denies a petition to compel arbitration and the employer appeals that decision. SB 365 will allow ligation to continue during such an appeal.
Off-Duty Cannabis Use and Drug Test Results (AB 2188, SB 700)
California has two new laws going into effect related to cannabis use and drug test results. The first is AB 2188.AB 2188 makes it unlawful for an employer to discriminate against individuals in hiring, termination, or any term or condition of employment, or to otherwise penalize an individual for cannabis use or drug test results under certain circumstances. Specifically, the law prohibits employers from taking these actions for either: (1) off-duty cannabis use away from the workplace; or (2) the results of an employer-required drug screening test that has found individuals to have nonpsychoactive cannabis metabolites in their hair, blood, urine, or other bodily fluids. AB 2188 does not allow employees to possess or use marijuana on the job, nor does it interfere with an employer’s right to maintain a drug-free and alcohol-free workplace. An employer may still refuse to hire an applicant based on scientifically valid pre-employment drug screening conducted through methods that do not screen for nonpsychoactive cannabis metabolites. There are also certain exceptions to AB 2188 such as for employees in the building and construction trades.
Additionally, AB 2188, SB 700 expands California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act to protect applicants from discrimination based on prior cannabis use, with some exceptions. SB 700 prohibits employers from requesting information from an applicant for employment relating to the applicant’s prior use of cannabis. Additionally, when an employer gathers criminal history information regarding an applicant’s prior cannabis use, SB 700 makes it unlawful for employers to use such information.
Increased Minimum Wage for Healthcare Workers (SB 525)
This bill enacts a multi-tiered statewide minimum wage schedule for health care workers employed by certain covered health care facilities. Under this new law, “covered health facility” covers nearly all health care facilities except those owned, controlled, or operated by the California Department of State Hospitals, tribal clinics exempt from licensure, and outpatient settings operated by federally recognized tribes. “Covered health care employee” covers a broad range of employees, from physicians and nurses to janitors and clerical workers.
What Lies Ahead
Workplace Violence Prevention Program (SB 553)
Starting July 1, 2024, California law will require employers to adopt comprehensive workplace violence prevention plans, either as part of their injury and illness prevention programs or as a separate document. SB 553 imposes specific requirements on employers, including:
- recording incidents or threats in a violent incident log;
- providing training to all employees; and
- maintaining records related to a workplace violence prevention plan
Fast Food Minimum Wage Increase to $20/hour
This new bill repeals the FAST Food Accountability and Standards Recovery Act and replaces it with a $20 per hour minimum wage for fast food workers, among other provisions. Under this law, the minimum wage for California fast food restaurant employees will increase to $20 per hour starting April 1, 2024. This minimum wage will increase annually through 2029. AB 1228 also establishes the Fast Food Council which, starting in 2024, likely will make recommendations regarding other workplace conditions.
MMC encourages employers to consider reviewing and updating their reporting procedures to ensure compliance with the January 1, 2024 regulation.