California Labor Laws Compliance Guide 2024

Gabrielle Sinacola | Apr 13, 2024

California Labor Laws Compliance Guide 2024

California labor laws are undergoing significant changes effective January 1, 2024. It’s essential for businesses, especially those spread across various states or with remote hiring practices, to have a grip on these latest updates.

We’re looking at a range of changes here — everything from more generous paid sick leave policies to fresh takes on noncompete agreements and introducing leave for reproductive loss.

For business owners and HR managers, staying on top of these new regulations is much more than just legal advice. It’s about shaping a workplace that truly stands behind its employees.

Here, we walk you through these changes, focusing on what they really mean for your business and, more importantly, the people who make it all happen.

What Are the Key Changes in California Labor Laws?

As California introduces these new labor laws, it’s important for employers to grasp the specifics and prepare for their implementation.

Here’s a breakdown of some crucial updates:

Before getting into the specifics, it’s essential to understand the context of SB 616. This labor code section marks a significant expansion in the state’s approach to paid sick leave and medical leave, reflecting a broader trend toward employee wellness and rights.

Here are the key details:

  • Expansion of Paid Sick Leave Entitlements: SB 616 extends the entitlement of paid sick leave to five days or 40 hours, up from the previous three days or 24 hours.

  • Accrual and Frontload Options: Employers can choose either to let employees accrue sick leave at a standard rate or “frontload” it at the start of each 12-month period. Under the new law, employees should be able to accrue at least 40 hours of work by their 200th day of employment.

  • Increased Annual Usage and Accrual Caps: The annual limit on paid sick leave usage has been raised to 40 hours, corresponding to an accrual cap of 80 hours or 10 days.

The enhancements in SB 616 reflect California’s commitment to fostering a more supportive work environment. By increasing paid sick leave and offering flexible accrual options, the state sets a precedent for employee well-being and accommodates health conditions.

Employers need to update their policies accordingly to ensure compliance and support for their staff.

Noncompete Agreements (SB 699, AB 1076)

The recent amendments in California labor laws, specifically SB 699 and AB 1076, mark a pivotal change in the state’s stance on noncompete agreements, reflecting a broader shift in employment law.

This change is particularly relevant to California employers and employees, including both salaried and non-exempt workers. These new laws highlight how serious California is about supporting the freedom and rights of its workers.

Non-compete agreements are a thing of the past now. This move is a big win for California’s fair employment, giving employees the freedom to chase new opportunities without feeling tied down.

Under the new legislation, there’s a significant and practical task for employers in various sectors, like health care and tech. They need to inform both current and former employees about the changes to noncompete agreements, specifically those signed after January 1, 2022.

This isn’t just a formality — it’s about transparency and fairness in the workplace, reflecting the spirit of the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA).

Businesses now have a good reason to revisit and possibly revise their employment contracts and practices. It’s about staying in sync with state laws like the California Labor Code and federal law.

Understanding these changes is key for employers in cities as varied as Los Angeles. They affect a range of employment aspects, from how overtime pay is handled to ensuring proper rest breaks.

Reproductive Loss Leave for Employees (SB 848)

SB 848 introduces a compassionate and much-needed aspect to California’s employment law — reproductive loss leave. This law is a crucial step forward, leaving fewer employees, including salaried and hourly-rate workers, to have to work while going through challenging personal experiences.

This groundbreaking legislation allows eligible employees to take unpaid leave following a reproductive loss event. It represents a significant development in employee rights, addressing sensitive issues like miscarriage and failed adoptions.

This law is especially relevant to smaller businesses and startups that may not have extensive policies in place for medical or bereavement leave. The eligibility criteria set by the law are inclusive, covering a broad spectrum of the workforce, including non-exempt employees and, where it applies, independent contractors.

As employers put SB 848 into action, they’ll need to consider its wider effects on different employment aspects, such as wage rates and employee benefits.

This law is in line with the broader principles of the California Family Rights Act. It’s a holistic approach that strives to improve overall employee well-being and health in the workplace.

What Are the Workplace Safety and Arbitration Laws?

As California continues to refine its labor and employment laws, the focus on workplace safety and legal arbitration is becoming increasingly pronounced. Recent legislations SB 553 and SB 365 address these critical areas, bringing new requirements and processes that impact both employers and employees.

Workplace Violence Prevention Program (SB 553)

California labor laws are expanding to ensure workplace safety, and SB 553 is at the forefront of this movement. This new legislation mandates that all employers adopt comprehensive violence prevention plans regardless of the number of employees or industry.

This requirement is particularly important for businesses where employees, including workers with no exemptions and those on California minimum wage, may face higher risks of workplace violence.

The law aligns with OSHA guidelines and underscores the importance of ensuring a safe workday and workweek for all California employees.

Employers are now required to develop and implement detailed plans for preventing workplace violence. These plans should cover various scenarios and provide clear guidelines for addressing and reporting incidents.

This law reinforces the importance of creating a safe working environment free from threats or acts of violence, aligning with the broader principles of workers’ compensation and welfare.

Arbitration Enforcement (SB 365)

Arbitration, a common resolution method in employment disputes, sees a significant shift with SB 365. This bill directly impacts how arbitration decisions are enforced in California, especially concerning employment law disputes ranging from wage issues to sexual harassment claims.

Under the new law, litigation can continue in trial courts even while an arbitration appeal is in progress. This change ensures that legal proceedings, such as those concerning employee wages or discrimination cases, are not unduly delayed.

California labor laws for salaried employees and employers also apply to those receiving the state minimum wage. Thus, everyone affected needs to be aware of this change, as it could affect the timeline and process of resolving employment disputes.

What About Cannabis Use and Employment in California?

In a country where personal freedoms and employment rights increasingly intersect, California’s new laws on cannabis use by employees present a unique set of challenges and considerations for businesses.

AB 2188 and SB 700, focusing on off-duty cannabis use and drug testing, reflect a nuanced approach to employee rights and workplace safety.

Off-Duty Cannabis Use (AB 2188, SB 700)

California’s progressive stance on employment rights extends to the use of cannabis by employees during their personal time. AB 2188 and SB 700 introduce new regulations that affect how employers can address off-duty cannabis use, especially in drug testing policies and employment decisions.

These new laws prohibit employers from discriminating against employees based on cannabis use outside of work hours. This includes making hiring or firing decisions based on off-duty cannabis use, as long as it does not affect the employee’s work performance.

It’s a significant development for California employees, ensuring their rights are protected even in scenarios involving drug testing.

While these laws offer protections for off-duty use, they also outline specific exceptions. For example, employers can still conduct drug tests and make employment decisions based on the presence of psychoactive cannabis compounds.

However, tests for non psychoactive cannabis metabolites are no longer a valid basis for employment decisions. This distinction is essential for employers to understand, especially in sectors where safety and compliance, such as with OSHA standards, are key.

What Are the Industry-Specific New Laws?

California is stepping up its game by tailoring labor laws to meet the unique demands of different industries. The latest lineup of laws, including SB 525, AB 1228, and SB 476, is all about shaking things up in terms of minimum wage and what’s expected from employers. It’s a clear push toward fairness and equality for workers, regardless of their field.

Health Care Workers Minimum Wage (SB 525)

SB 525 represents a landmark shift in compensation for healthcare workers in California. This bill sets an increased minimum wage for healthcare employees, acknowledging their essential role and the demanding nature of their work.

Reflecting the state’s commitment to equal pay and fair labor practices, SB 525 establishes a higher minimum wage for healthcare workers. This change is important for employers in the healthcare sector to note, as it affects both salaried and hourly workers, ensuring they receive compensation that matches the value of their essential services.

Fast-Food Workers Minimum Wage (AB 1228)

The fast-food industry, a significant employer of non-exempt employees, sees a transformative change with AB 1228. This new law sets a precedent in California’s minimum wage standards for fast-food workers.

AB 1228 introduces a $20 per hour minimum wage for fast-food workers, a substantial increase aimed at providing job applicants with fair compensation.

This change is a response to the growing call for a living wage, ensuring that workers in this sector receive a regular rate of pay that reflects the cost of living and their contribution to the economy.

Food Handler Cards (SB 476)

SB 476 addresses an often-overlooked aspect of the food industry — the responsibility of employers regarding food handler cards.

This legislation mandates employers in the food industry to cover the costs associated with obtaining food handler cards for their employees. This includes the certification cost and the time spent by employees in training and testing.

It’s a move toward ensuring that employees, particularly those on minimum wage, are not burdened with additional costs related to their job requirements.

Streamline Compliance With Mosey

In an environment where labor laws are continually evolving, staying compliant can be challenging, especially for small to mid-sized businesses.

This is where Mosey comes in, offering a streamlined, automated solution for managing compliance across various legal requirements. Book a demo today and discover the difference Mosey can make in your business.

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