California, known for its progressive employment laws, has introduced several significant changes in the latest legislative session, with many of these laws set to take effect on January 1, 2024. Our Los Angeles employment law attorneys discuss the key updates.
Paid Sick Leave Expansion (SB 616)
Under California’s new paid sick leave law, Senate Bill (SB) 616, employees are now entitled to five days or forty hours of paid sick leave. This is a significant increase from the previous three days or twenty-four hours. Employers can choose between allowing accrual at one hour for every thirty hours worked or opting for a “frontloading” approach. The annual usage cap has also increased to forty hours, and the accrual cap is now eighty hours or ten days.
Noncompete Agreements and Notice Requirements (SB 699, AB 1076)**
SB 699 prohibits the use and enforcement of noncompete agreements, rendering them void regardless of where the agreement was signed or where the employee worked. Additionally, newly signed AB 1076 mandates employers to notify current and former employees (employed after January 1, 2022) in writing that any noncompete agreements they 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,” which includes failed adoptions, surrogacies, miscarriages, stillbirths, or unsuccessful assisted reproductions. To be eligible, employees must have worked for an employer for a minimum of 30 days, and their employer must have at least five employees.
Workplace Violence Prevention Program (SB 553)
Starting July 1, 2024, employers are required to adopt comprehensive workplace violence prevention plans. These plans can be integrated into existing injury and illness prevention programs or maintained as separate documents. The legislation mandates recording incidents in a violent incident log, providing training to all employees, and maintaining records related to the prevention plan.
Arbitration Enforcement (SB 365)
SB 365 modifies California’s Code of Civil Procedure to state that the perfecting of an appeal shall not automatically stay any proceedings in the trial court during the appeal. This change comes into play when a court denies a petition to compel arbitration, allowing litigation to continue during the appeal process.
Off-Duty Cannabis Use and Drug Test Results (AB 2188, SB 700)
AB 2188, effective January 1, 2024, makes it unlawful for employers to discriminate against individuals based on off-duty cannabis use or drug test results showing non-psychoactive cannabis metabolites. SB 700 expands California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act to protect applicants from discrimination based on prior cannabis use.
New Industry-Specific Laws
Increased Minimum Wage for Health Care Workers (SB 525)
Enacts a multi-tiered statewide minimum wage schedule for health care workers.
Fast-Food Minimum Wage Increase to $20/hour (AB 1228)
Replaces the FAST Food Accountability and Standards Recovery Act, setting a $20 per hour minimum wage for fast-food workers starting April 1, 2024.
Food Handler Cards (SB 476)
Employers are now required to cover the costs associated with obtaining a food handler card for certain workers.