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Rand L. Stephens & Richard N. Koss Motto
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New California Employment Laws for 2024

Employment law

As we step into 2024, the California employment landscape is undergoing significant changes with the introduction of new laws designed to enhance worker protections and ensure equitable treatment across all sectors. We’ve already covered a couple of these laws in previous posts and will provide more detail on others in future posts later this year. For now, read on for a description of the most pivotal updates affecting your workplace in 2024. Contact San Francisco Bay Area employment lawyer Richard Koss for help dealing with these changes at your place of employment.

Increase in the State Minimum Wage

In a significant move to address the cost of living and inflation, California has announced an increase in the state minimum wage to $16 per hour for all nonexempt employees. This adjustment ensures that workers receive fair compensation, enabling them to meet their basic needs in one of the country’s most expensive regions to live and work. Employers must adjust their payroll practices to comply with this updated wage standard, which aims to reduce income inequality and bolster the economy by increasing consumer spending power. Note that the salary basis for exempt employees has gone up as well, to $66,560 annually, with significantly greater amounts for covered exempt computer professionals.

Enhanced Paid Sick Leave Benefits

The passage of SB 616 marks a progressive step toward supporting employees’ health and well-being. This law enhances paid sick leave benefits, offering workers additional time off for illness or to care for sick family members. It represents a critical update in the state’s efforts to ensure employees do not have to choose between their health and their livelihood. As we noted in a previous post (see New Sick Leave Laws for 2024, posted November 21, 2023), employees under the new law will accumulate sick leave at a faster rate than before and increase the amount of accrued but unused sick leave that can be carried over into the next year.

Changes in Non-Compete Laws

SB 699 and AB 1076 introduce crucial modifications to California’s stance on non-compete agreements. These changes further restrict employers’ ability to limit their employees’ future employment opportunities, ensuring that workers have the freedom to navigate their careers without undue constraints. By expanding the state’s restrictions to covenants signed outside of the Golden State, this update reinforces California’s position as a state that prioritizes employee mobility and innovation. See our post from January 3rd (New Law Comes in, Non-Compete Agreements Go out) for more information on this new law.

Equal Pay and Anti-Retaliation Protection Act

SB 497 strengthens protections against wage discrimination and retaliation, building on California’s robust equal pay laws. It ensures that employees who speak out about wage disparities or discrimination are protected from retaliation, encouraging a more equitable and transparent workplace culture. Under the new law, when an employee brings forward a claim alleging workplace retaliation, the law will presume retaliation if the employee suffered an adverse employment action within 90 days of engaging in a covered protected activity. This presumption can be rebutted by the employer, but the burden of proof shifts to them to do so once an employee makes a prima facie case of retaliation.

Reproductive Loss Leave

Recognizing the emotional and physical impact of reproductive loss, SB 848 mandates that employers provide leave for employees experiencing such unfortunate events. This law underscores California’s commitment to compassionate employment practices, acknowledging reproductive loss as a significant health matter that requires time for recovery and healing. Covered employees will be entitled to up to five days of protected leave after a covered event. The law defines a reproductive loss to include miscarriage, stillbirth, failed surrogacy or adoption, or a failed attempt at assisted reproduction.

Use of Marijuana Off-site and Off-duty

With the enactment of AB 2188 and SB 700, California addresses the evolving legal and social perspectives on marijuana use. These laws protect employees’ rights to consume marijuana off-site and off-duty, reflecting a more modern approach to employee privacy and personal freedom. Employers will need to update their drug policies to align with these changes, emphasizing impairment at work rather than off-duty consumption. The law contains an antidiscrimination provision and will also impact the way employers conduct drug tests.

Workplace Violence Prevention Plans

In response to growing concerns about workplace safety, SB 553 mandates that covered employers establish comprehensive violence prevention plans. This law highlights the importance of a proactive approach to identifying and mitigating potential threats, ensuring a safe and secure working environment for all employees. Plans must contain specific provisions outlined in the law, which includes penalties for noncompliance. Plans are due in place by July 1.

Updated Wage Theft Prevention Notice

AB 636 enhances transparency and enforcement related to wage theft, requiring employers to provide detailed notices to employees about their rights under California’s wage and hour laws. This measure aims to curb wage theft and ensure workers are fully informed about their entitlements, promoting fair labor practices across all industries. An updated Wage Theft Prevention Notice was published by the California Labor Commissioner in December and can be found here on the Commissioner’s website.

Contact Bay Area Employment Lawyer Richard Koss for Help With Employment Law Changes

The new employment laws coming into effect in 2024 reflect California’s continued commitment to protecting workers’ rights and fostering a fair, inclusive, and safe work environment. Employers must take proactive steps to comply with these changes, while employees should familiarize themselves with their new rights and protections. For both parties, understanding and adapting to these laws is crucial for a harmonious and productive workplace. San Francisco Bay Area employment lawyer Richard Koss remains dedicated to guiding employers and employees through these changes, offering concise legal advice and support to navigate the complexities of California’s employment law landscape. Get answers to your questions by calling attorney Richard Koss at 650-722-7046 on the San Francisco Peninsula, or 925-757-1700 in the East Bay.

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