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We Need to Talk About California: Legislative Changes for 2024 and Beyond

The California legislature had a very busy season, and several key pieces of legislation will impact California employers in 2024 and beyond. The following laws are going into effect in 2024:

  • Paid Sick Leave Expansion (SB 616) – Effective January 1, 2024, employers will be required to increase mandatory paid sick leave earnings. If sick leave is frontloaded, the amount allotted must increase to five paid days (or 40 hours) from the previously required three paid days (or 24 hours). If leave is earned on an accrual basis (one hour for every 30 hours worked), employees must be permitted to accrue up to 80 hours (or 10 days); previously, the accrual could be capped at 48 hours (or 6 days).
  • Cannabis Discrimination Prohibition (SB700) – Effective January 1, 2024 employers are prohibited from requesting information from an applicant for employment relating to the applicant’s prior use of cannabis and discriminating against employees or applicants based on their use of cannabis off the job and away from the workplace. However, information about a person’s prior cannabis use obtained from the person’s criminal history would be permitted for those positions in the construction or building services or those that require federal background investigations or clearance.
  • Non-Competition Agreement Restrictions (AB 1076 and SB 699) – Effective January 1, 2024, the law broadens employee protections against non-competition agreements by not only making them void but illegal for them to be entered into under state law. Employers must satisfy the law’s notice requirement by February 14, 2024, which requires employers to notify current and former California employees who were employed after January 1, 2022, and subject to a non-compliant non-compete clause, that their non-compete is void. Notice is required to be sent to the employee’s last known mailing and email addresses.
  • Minimum Wage Increase – Effective January 1, 2024, the state minimum wage will increase to $16 per hour for all employers, regardless of size. In addition, many cities and local governments in California have enacted minimum wage ordinances exceeding the state minimum wage. The minimum wage increase will also have an impact on the salary level for exempt workers.
  • Minimum Wage Increases for Fast Food Workers (AB 1228) – Effective April 1, 2024, the hourly minimum wages for certain fast food restaurant employees will increase to $20 per hour. Notably, the new law has a current sunset date of January 1, 2029.
  • Reproductive Loss Leave (SB 848) – Effective January 1, 2024, employers are required to provide employees up to five days of leave following a reproductive loss which includes a miscarriage, stillbirth, failed adoption, failed surrogacy, or unsuccessful assisted reproduction (i.e., artificial insemination or an embryo transfer) by either an employee or by their spouse or domestic partner.
  • The Equal Pay and Anti-Retaliation Protection Act (SB 497) – Effective January 1, 2024, California Labor law is amended to create a rebuttable presumption of retaliation if an employee is disciplined or discharged within ninety days of certain protected activity. By doing so, SB 497 makes it easier for employees to establish a prima facie case of retaliation.
  • Workplace Violence Prevention Plan (SB 553) – Effective January 1, 2025 employers are required to develop and implement a workplace violence prevention plan.

Next Steps

Employers should carefully review these new laws and take steps to comply with them before they go into effect as failure to comply could result in penalties and lawsuits.

Employers who have questions about any of these new laws or their impact on their organization should consult with an employment and labor attorney.

HR Works, headquartered in Upstate New York, is a human resource management outsourcing and consulting firm serving clients throughout the United States for over thirty years. HR Works provides scalable strategic human resource management and consulting services, including: affirmative action programs; benefits administration outsourcing; HRIS self-service technology; full-time, part-time and interim on-site HR managers; HR audits; legally reviewed employee handbooks and supervisor manuals; talent management and recruiting services; and training of managers and HR professionals.