The arrival of 2024 brings with it several noteworthy updates to the employment laws for employees in Los Angeles. As such, it remains ever important for employers to understand these key changes in order to properly navigate their implications and maintain a compliant workplace. This article aims to serve as a guide, explaining what changes have taken place and how you can adjust your business practices to accommodate them.

Breaking Down New Employment Laws for Employees In 2024

Wage Changes

1. Minimum Wage Increases + Exempt Employee Threshold Increase: On January 1st, 2024 an increase to minimum wage was established, from $15.50 to $16.00 per hour for all employees, regardless of employer. This change also raises the annual salary threshold for exempt employees to $66,560. Healthcare workers, as per SB 525, will benefit from a tailored minimum wage structure, granting between $18-23 per hour, depending on employer characteristics. This comes into effect as of June 1st, 2024, so employers are urged to assess their classification under these wage guidelines with an employment agreements lawyer and adjust compensation rates accordingly.

2. Employees At National Fast-Food Chains Get A Minimum Wage Increase: In conjunction with the statewide increment, fast-food workers will witness their minimum wage elevate to $20 per hour effective April 1, 2024.

3. Food-Handler Training Compensation & Reimbursement: SB 476, under the Health and Safety Code, mandates employers to compensate employees for the time spent completing mandatory food handler training and exams. It requires employers to release employees from other duties during training, cover expenses related to obtaining food handler cards and prohibits making employment contingent on possessing a prior food handler card.

4. Changes to the Wage Theft Protection Act: AB 636 updates Labor Code 2810.5 by amending the Wage Theft Notice requirements for non-exempt employees to now include information on emergency or disaster declarations specific to the county where the employee is based. A revised Section 2810.5 Wage Theft Notice has been prepared by the State for distribution to employees upon hire.

Benefit Changes – Paid Sick Leave and Reproductive Loss Leave

1. Paid Sick Leave Expansion: SB 616 will see that Paid sick leave be increased from 3 days or 24 hours per year, to 5 days or 40 hours per year as of January 1st, 2024. Lump sum of yearly sick leave will be paid as whichever is greater between 5 days or 40 hours. Accrual-based paid sick leave will require employers to raise their minimum accrual cap from 6 days or 48 hours, to 10 days, or 80 hours.

2. Reproductive Loss: SB 848 states that in cases of failed adoption/surrogacy/assisted reproduction, miscarriage, or stillbirth, employers with at least 5 employees will be required to provide those with at least 30 days tenure up to 5 days of unpaid leave per loss, to be taken any time within 3 months, to a maximum of 20 days.

Addressing Workplace Violence Concerns

1. Employment Laws for Employees Under Violence Prevention Plans: SB 553 mandates that all California employers implement an effective Workplace Violence Prevention Plan (WVPP). Plans must include violent incident logs, workplace violence hazard identification, evaluation, and correction. Training programs for employees on the WVPP must be conducted, and records of such training should be maintained. Several requirements of this law take effect on July 1, 2024.

2. Temporary Restraining Orders: SB 428 allows employers to seek temporary restraining orders (TRO) on behalf of employees who have experienced harassment. This law, effective January 1, 2025, permits employers to seek a TRO and injunction if an employee has suffered harassment and faced great or irreparable harm.

Discrimination and Retaliation Updates

1. Anti-Retaliation Laws Strengthen: SB 497 establishes a rebuttable presumption of discrimination or retaliation within 90 days of protected conduct, enhancing existing anti-discrimination laws and raising penalties. Employers should seek legal guidance from an employment agreements lawyer to address questions around the presumption of adverse actions involving employees who recently engaged in protected activity.

2. Cannabis Testing Protections for Applicants/Employees: As of January 1, 2024, Government Code. Section 12954 and SB 700 now prohibit employers from discriminating against individuals because of their off-the-job and away-from-workplace cannabis use, with the exception of impairments on the job. Job applicants are not required to disclose information regarding cannabis use unless revealed through criminal history checks.

Non-Compete Agreements and Notice Requirements

1. Non-Compete Agreements to be Voided: California Business & Professions Code Section 16600 voids any agreements restricting post-employment competition, with the exception of sales or dissolution of a business. SB 699, effective January 1st, 2024, supports Section 16600 by imposing civil liability on employers who enter into or attempt to enforce non-compete agreements, regardless of where and when they were signed. Additionally, AB 1076 requires employers to provide written notice to anyone employed after January 1st, 2022 that any non-compete agreements are void by February 14th, 2024.

Enforcement of Arbitration Agreements

1. Arbitration Is No Longer Halted By An Appeal: Appealing the dismissal or denial of a petition to compel arbitration no longer results in the staying of proceedings until the appeal’s conclusion. SB 365 instead leaves this to the court’s discretion while proceedings continue.

OSHA’s E-RecordKeeping Rule

1. The OSHA E-RecordKeeping rule is effective as of January 1, 2024, and requires establishments with 100 or more employees and those listed in Appendix B to comply with the “Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses”. This mandate entails that the electronic submission of the 300 Log, corresponding 301 Incident Reports, and 300A Annual Summary Data, must be done by March 2nd, 2024.

Defamation Privilege

1. Protection Against Defamation: Communications made without malice regarding incidents of sexual assault, harassment, or discrimination are defined as privileged. AB 933, as of January 1st, 2024, protects individuals making these communications with a “reasonable basis” from any defamation action, without being required to have filed a complaint of the sexual assault, harassment, or discrimination.

Concerned About These Changes? Contact An Employment Agreements Lawyer

To learn more about how California’s 2024 employment law changes can impact your business, contact Cohen Law Group today.

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