2024 Updates: California's Latest Employment Legislation

Posted by Catherine Chukwueke | Jan 09, 2024

As of January 1, 2024, several critical changes in California employment laws have come into effect, reshaping the landscape for both employers and employees. Below are some key updates: 

Minimum Wage Increases:

Effective Date: January 1, 2024

  • State minimum wage increases to $16 per hour for all employers.
  • Exempt employees must receive a minimum annual salary of $66,560.
  • "Living wage ordinances" in various locales within the state need confirmation for compliance with governing wage requirements.

SB 365: Elimination of Automatic Stay of Litigation Pending Arbitration Appeal

Effective Date: January 1, 2024

  • Eliminates the automatic stay of trial court proceedings during an appeal of an order denying a motion to compel arbitration.
  • Requires employers and others seeking arbitration to potentially litigate the underlying claims during the appeal.
  • Represents a significant change in existing law, likely subject to challenge on preemption grounds.

SB 497: Simplifying Retaliation Claims

Effective Date: January 1, 2024

  • SB 497 introduces a rebuttable presumption of retaliation, making it easier for employees to establish a prima facie case.
  • Prohibits employers from preventing employees from disclosing information and establishes wage equality provisions.

SB 616: Enhanced California Paid Sick Leave Benefits

Effective Date: January 1, 2024

  • Enhances California's paid sick leave law.
  • Offers significant expansions of employers' obligations, providing options for frontloading or accruing sick leave.
  • Introduces a new accrual method with specific requirements.

AB 636: Updated Wage Theft Prevention Notice

Effective Date: January 1, 2024

  • Updates the Wage Theft Prevention Notice, including information about relevant emergency or disaster declarations.
  • Employers using the Labor Commissioner's template should update it accordingly.

SB 699: Ban on Noncompete Agreements

Effective Date: January 1, 2024

    • SB 699 reinforces California's prohibition of noncompete agreements, voiding such contracts regardless of where or when they were signed.
    • Employers attempting to enforce void contracts may face civil violations, legal action by employees, and liability for attorney's fees and costs.
    • AB 1076, a companion bill, requires employers to notify current and former employees (employed after Jan. 1, 2022) in writing by Feb. 14, 2024, that any noncompetition clause or agreement already entered into is void.

SB 700: Cannabis and Workplace Discrimination

Effective Date: January 1, 2024

    • SB 700 introduces protections against discrimination based on past cannabis use, extending to off-the-job and away-from-the-workplace instances.
    • Employers are prohibited from requesting information about a job applicant's prior cannabis use.

SB 848: New Employee Leave Entitlement for Reproductive Loss

Effective Date: January 1, 2024

  • Employers of five or more employees must grant up to five days of protected leave for reproductive loss events.
  • Leave need not be consecutive but should be taken within three months of the event.
  • The leave is unpaid, but confidentiality must be maintained, and no paperwork is required from the employee.

SB 553: Workplace Violence Prevention Plan

Effective Date: July 1, 2024

  • Requires nearly all California employers to establish, implement, and maintain an "effective" workplace violence prevention plan.
  • Specifies elements of the plan, including the involvement of employees in hazard identification, training, and reporting.
  • Mandates procedures for responding to violence reports, preventing retaliation, and timely correction of hazards.
  • Demands detailed records maintenance and annual plan reviews under potential monetary penalties.

AB 594: Public Prosecutors' Authority on Wage Hour Violations

Effective Date: Until January 1, 2029

  • Authorizes public prosecutors to file civil or criminal actions for specific violations of the California Labor Code.
  • Covers payment of wages to employees and willful misclassifications of individuals as independent contractors.
  • Declares that arbitration agreements limiting representative actions do not impact public prosecutors' authority.
  • Prioritizes recovered wages for affected workers and directs civil penalties to California's General Fund.
  • Allows public prosecutors to seek injunctive relief and prevailing attorney's fees and costs.

If you have any questions regarding your company's policies or need guidance on California employment law, contact the Law Office of Catherine Chukwueke and schedule a consultation. We are here to help you navigate the complexities of employment law with confidence.

Disclaimer: This article has been prepared and published for informational purposes only and is not offered, nor should be construed, as legal advice. 

About the Author

Catherine Chukwueke

Catherine (“Cathy”) Chukwueke is the Owner and Principal Attorney of the Law Office of Catherine Chukwueke, a law firm focusing on labor and employment matters and workplace investigations. Ms. Chukwueke is passionate about helping people who have been mistreated in the workplace.

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