PPRCLaw Alert: Overview of Key Legal Changes Affecting California Employers in 2024

In the ever-evolving landscape of California labor and employment law, 2024 brings forth several significant legal updates that employers must diligently navigate to ensure compliance and mitigate risks. This PPRCLaw alert provides a comprehensive overview of the pivotal legislative changes set to take effect on January 1, 2024, unless otherwise specified.

1. Minimum Wage Adjustments

Effective January 1, 2024, the California state minimum wage will rise to $16 per hour for all employers, irrespective of the size of their workforce. Additionally, exempt employees in California must receive a minimum annual salary of $66,560. Various localities have also implemented "living wage ordinances," necessitating compliance with regional wage standards. Notably, covered exempt computer professional employees must now be compensated at a rate of no less than $55.58 per hour or $115,763.35 annually. Furthermore, on April 1, 2024, minimum wage increases will apply to covered fast-food restaurant employers, with covered healthcare facility employers following suit on June 1, 2024.

2. Enhanced California Paid Sick Leave Benefits (SB 616)

SB 616 signifies a substantial expansion of employers' obligations regarding paid sick leave. Employers must either frontload 40 hours/five days of paid sick leave annually or adopt an accrual method, ensuring employees accrue one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked. The law imposes an 80-hour/10-day accrual cap and mandates certain accrual milestones for employees. Notably, employers must update policies and practices to align with SB 616's requirements.

3. New Employee Leave Entitlement for Reproductive Loss (SB 848)

SB 848 mandates that employers with five or more employees provide up to five days of protected leave to employees experiencing a reproductive loss event. This includes miscarriage, stillbirth, or unsuccessful assisted reproduction. Employers must refrain from retaliating against employees who exercise their right to take this leave and ensure confidentiality regarding the same.

4. California's New Nationwide Focus on Noncompetition Agreements (SB 699/AB 1076)

California continues its pro-employee stance by affirmatively prohibiting noncompetition agreements. SB 699 and AB 1076 prohibit the enforcement of noncompetition agreements and mandate notification to employees regarding the void status of existing agreements.

5. Protections for Off-Site, Off-Duty Marijuana Use (AB 2188/SB 700)

AB 2188 and SB 700 provide explicit protections for off-site, off-duty marijuana use. Employers are barred from discriminating against employees based on such use but retain the right to maintain drug-free workplaces and conduct valid drug tests for current impairment.

6. Updated Wage Theft Prevention Notice (AB 636)

AB 636 introduces new requirements for the Wage Theft Prevention Notice, including information on applicable emergency or disaster declarations. Employers utilizing the California Labor Commissioner's template must ensure compliance with the updated notice requirements.

7. Workplace Violence Prevention Plan Requirement (SB 553)

SB 553 mandates nearly all California employers to develop and implement an effective workplace violence prevention plan by July 1, 2024. Employers must establish comprehensive procedures for identifying, evaluating, and correcting workplace violence hazards.

8. New 90-Day Rebuttable Presumption for Workplace Retaliation (SB 497)

SB 497 establishes a rebuttable presumption of retaliation for certain protected activities within 90 days. Employers must be prepared to articulate non-retaliatory justifications for adverse actions to rebut this presumption.

9. Elimination of Automatic Stay of Litigation Pending Arbitration Appeal (SB 365)

SB 365 abolishes the automatic stay of trial court proceedings pending an appeal of an order denying a motion to compel arbitration. Employers may need to litigate the underlying claims during the appeal process.

10. Expansion of Prosecutorial Authority for Wage Hour Violations (AB 594)

AB 594 authorizes public prosecutors to pursue civil or criminal actions for violations of specific provisions of the California Labor Code. This law empowers prosecutors to seek remedies for affected workers and enforce labor standards independently of arbitration agreements.

For comprehensive guidance on navigating these legal changes and safeguarding your organization's compliance, contact PPRCLaw's experienced legal professionals.

Stay informed, stay compliant with PPRCLaw.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this alert serves as general education and awareness for our readers and should not be solely relied upon for legal analysis or resolution. Legal advice should be sought based on specific factual assessments. Laws vary by jurisdiction and may change frequently, so this information may not always be current. Receipt of this alert does not establish an attorney-client relationship. For personalized guidance on individual situations, please consult the authors of this article, your designated PPRCLaw representative, or other qualified legal professionals.