California Law in 2024: What You Need to Know

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California Law in 2024: What You Need to Know

A new year is underway, and with that new year comes some changes to employment laws. These are the things to keep in mind for 2024.

Minimum Wage Went Up 

California’s minimum wages have been going up each year. For 2024, the minimum wage increased to $16, but some areas and industries have wages higher than that. For example, starting June 1, 2024, workers in healthcare facilities will increase to a range of $18 to $23 per hour, depending on the facility’s size and location. Workers in fast food move to a minimum wage of $20 per hour starting April 1, 2024.

The towns and cities with higher wages are as follows. (The definition of a small employer is one with no more than 25 workers.)

  • Alameda – $16.52
  • Belmont – $17.35
  • Berkeley – $18.07
  • Burlingame – $17.03
  • Cupertino – $17.75
  • Daly City – $16.62
  • East Palo Alto – $17
  • El Cerrito – $17.92
  • Emeryville – $18.67
  • Foster City – $17
  • Fremont – $16.80
  • Half Moon Bay – $17.01
  • Hayward – $16.90 (only employers with more than 25 workers)
  • Los Altos – $17.75
  • Los Angeles County (Unincorporated) – $16.90
  • Malibu – $16.90
  • Menlo Park – $16.70
  • Milpitas – $17.20
  • Mountain View – $18.75
  • Novato – $16.68 (100+ employees), $16.60 (medium businesses), or $16.04 (small businesses)
  • Oakland – $16.50
  • Palo Alto – $17.80
  • Pasadena – $16.93
  • Petaluma – $17.45
  • Redwood City – $17.70
  • Richmond – $17.20
  • San Carlos – $16.87
  • San Diego – $16.85
  • San Francisco – $18.07
  • San Jose – $17.55
  • San Mateo – $17.35
  • San Mateo County (Unincorporated) – $17.06
  • Santa Clara – $17.75
  • Santa Monica – $16.90
  • Santa Rosa – $17.45
  • Sonoma – $17.60 or $16.56 (small businesses)
  • South San Francisco – $17.25
  • Sunnyvale – $18.55
  • West Hollywood – $19.08

AB 594: Local Prosecutors Can Pursue Civil or Criminal California Labor Code Violations

Current California laws require the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement to enforce all labor laws. With AB 594, it allows local prosecutors to step in and prosecute both civil and criminal cases regarding violations of the Labor Code.

AB 636: Wage Theft Violation Notices Must Include Emergency or Disaster Declaration Notices

All employers have to provide information on wage theft. Employers need to add information regarding state and federal emergency or disaster declarations that cover health and safety issues that could impact a worker’s employment. The California Labor Commissioner’s website must post a template to the website by March 1st.

Starting March 15, 2024, California employers must provide in both English and Spanish, if requested, the notice listed above to workers on federal H-2A agricultural visas using the same language to other employees.

AB 2188: Workers Who Use Cannabis Off the Job Cannot Be Discriminated Against

California laws legalized recreational cannabis in 2016. Despite this, some workers were being penalized when it came to work-related drug screenings. AB 2188 makes it illegal for workers to be penalized if they use cannabis outside of work. It doesn’t allow workers to use cannabis products while at work. It also doesn’t impede a business’s rights to maintain a drug and alcohol-free workplace as required in California’s Health and Safety Code.

SB 365: California Code of Civil Procedure Changes

In October, Governor Newsom signed SB 365 into law. Until this change, if a party appealed an order that denied or dismissed a petition to enter arbitration, it would stop or suspend proceedings in the trial court. SB 365 modifies this law, so court proceedings no longer automatically stay and may continue despite the appeal.

SB 497: Employees Gain Protections for Termination or Discipline by Their Employer

SB 497 protects employees from retaliation or employment termination when a worker engages in a protected conduct. If an employee is subjected to termination, retaliation, demotion, or another adverse action within 90 days of that activity, it will count as an unlawful termination. The employer faces civil penalties of up to $10,000 per employee.

SB 553: Employers Must Establish Workplace Violence Prevention Safety Plans

Workplace violence is increasing, and California is the first state to address it by mandating the creation of workplace violence prevention safety plans as part of its injury prevention program. Effective July 1, 2024, employers need to have a plan drawn up, train employees, and maintain records of any violent act that has results or has a strong likelihood of resulting in psychological trauma, stress and anxiety, or injury. 

The employer would need to seek a temporary restraining order for the affected worker and allow them to go unnamed in that restraining order if they request it. Starting January 1, 2025, a collective bargaining (union) representative would also have the authority to seek a temporary restraining order for any worker under a collective bargaining agreement.

SB 616: Paid Sick Leave Benefits Increase

Through the Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014, California workers are entitled to paid sick days if they’ve worked with the same employer for at least 30 days in a year. 

Employers cannot retaliate against an employee who uses sick days or set requirements on how those sick days can be used. The law required sick leave to be accrued at a rate of 1 hour for every 30 hours worked and available for use after 90 days of employment. However, the law excluded employees who are covered by a collective bargaining agreement.

SB 616 grants workers under a collective bargaining agreement the same amount of sick leave. It also increases the amount of accrued sick leave from three to five days after 200 days of full-time employment. Annual accrual limits increase from six to 10 days.

SB 848: Time Off For Reproductive Loss

Current California laws require an employer to give a worker up to five days of bereavement leave following a family member’s death. SB 848 expands this to reproductive loss, such as a stillbirth, failed adoption or surrogacy, unsuccessful assisted reproduction, or miscarriage. Workers have the right to take up to five days off following a reproductive loss. 

If a worker suffers multiple losses in one year, there is a cap of 20 days off per 12-month period. An employer can allow a worker to use other methods of coverage, such as paid sick leave. If an employer refuses to grant that time off, it’s illegal.

SB 699: Non-Compete Agreements Are Illegal, Even if the Worker Is Outside of California

Non-competition clauses or agreements state that workers cannot move to a position with a competitor or start a similar profession or entrepreneurship that could create competition. They’re illegal in California as they can make it difficult for employees to find future employment and inhibit wage growth. If an employer wants to protect trade secrets or other vital information, they need to take a different approach.

Starting January 1, 2024, SB 699 prohibits California’s employers from having out-of-state workers sign non-compete agreements. All non-competition clauses and agreements are illegal, no matter where they were signed. 

In addition, AB 1076 requires employers to notify workers hired after January 1, 2022, who signed a non-compete agreement that that clause is void. The notice has to be in writing and delivered to the employee’s last-known email address and last physical address.

If a worker is forced to sign an illegal non-compete, the employee or prospective employee can sue for the recovery of damages, injunctive relief, or both. Plus, the employee can ask for the employer to cover the resulting legal fees.

This summarizes 2024’s employment law changes. If your employer has forced you to sign a non-compete agreement or kept your wage below the new minimum wage, talk to the attorneys at Shegerian Conniff. We’re here for any worker who believes their rights are being ignored.

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