On October 14, 2023, California’s lively legislative 12 months got here to an finish, leaving quite a few employment legislation updates in its wake. This 12 months, Governor Gavin Newsom has signed novel legal guidelines that create new rights for workers (and necessities for employers) whereas additionally amending some present legal guidelines, thereby altering present employer obligations. Right here, we summarize the legal guidelines anticipated to have the best influence on California employers in 2024.
Paid Sick Depart Will increase (SB 616)
As described in better element in a separate weblog publish, efficient January 1, 2024, California employers are required to supply 5 days (or forty hours) of paid sick go away below the Wholesome Workplaces, Wholesome Households Act. This is a rise from three days (or twenty-four hours), which was the employer obligation previous to the modification.
Reproductive Loss Depart (SB 848)
Below present legislation (the California Honest Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”)), employers should grant a request by any worker to take as much as 5 (5) days of bereavement go away upon the dying of a member of the family.
Efficient January 1, 2024, employers should additionally grant a request by an eligible worker to take as much as 5 (5) days of reproductive loss go away following a reproductive loss occasion. A “reproductive loss occasion” is outlined as: “the day or, for a multiple-day occasion, the ultimate day of a failed adoption, failed surrogacy, miscarriage, stillbirth or an unsuccessful assisted replica.” Below the brand new legislation, within the absence of an present coverage, the reproductive loss go away could also be unpaid. Nonetheless, staff could use sure different go away balances in any other case accessible to the worker, together with accrued and accessible paid sick go away. Typically, such go away have to be taken inside 3 months of the occasion. Additional, if an worker experiences multiple reproductive loss occasion inside a 12-month interval, the employer just isn’t obligated to grant a complete quantity of reproductive loss go away time in extra of 20 days inside a 12-month interval.
As well as, the brand new legislation prohibits retaliation primarily based on the person’s train of the proper to reproductive loss go away or the person’s testimony as to reproductive loss go away. Lastly, any info offered to the employer referring to the necessity for reproductive loss go away shall be maintained as confidential and shall not be disclosed besides to inside personnel or counsel, as obligatory or as required by legislation.
Office Violence Prevention Plans (SB 553)
By July 1, 2024, practically all California employers are required to design, implement, and keep a office violence prevention plan (“WVPP”). As well as, the brand new legislation requires employers to take care of a violent incident log, in addition to present yearly coaching to staff on the way to determine and keep away from office violence.
The WVPP will likely be structured like an Damage & Sickness Prevention Program (“IIPP”), as employers should designate the particular person liable for implementing this system, determine and proper hazards via periodic inspections, keep information of incidents and prepare staff on hazards. As well as, although, the WVPP should embrace “[e]ffective procedures to acquire the lively involvement of staff and approved worker representatives in creating and implementing the plan, together with, however not restricted to, via their participation in figuring out, evaluating and correcting office violence hazards, in designing and implementing coaching and in reporting and investigating office violence incidents.”
Additional, below the brand new legislation, employers should present staff with preliminary coaching when the WVPP is established and proceed conducting annual trainings thereafter. The coaching should cowl the contents of the WVPP, the legislation’s definitions and necessities, methods to report incidents and issues, methods to keep away from bodily hurt and methods staff can take part within the WVPP’s growth and implementation.
The legislation additionally requires employers to take care of numerous information, together with a separate violent incident log, coaching information and investigation information. Below the brand new legislation, employers should make sure that all office violence incidents involving any worker are reported, investigated and recorded. Lastly, Cal/OSHA will suggest its personal common business office violence laws by December 31, 2025, and can undertake such requirements no later than December 31, 2026.
Hashish-Use Protections (SB 700)
The California FEHA prohibits numerous types of employment discrimination and empowers the Civil Rights Division (previously often known as the Division of Honest Employment and Housing) to analyze and prosecute complaints alleging illegal practices.
Efficient January 1, 2024, it’s typically illegal for an employer to discriminate towards an individual in hiring, termination or any time period or situation of employment, or in any other case penalize an individual due to the particular person’s use of hashish off the job and away from the office or primarily based on the outcomes of an employer-required drug screening check that has discovered the particular person to have non-psychoactive hashish metabolites of their hair, blood, urine or different bodily fluids.
Nonetheless, staff aren’t allowed to own or use marijuana on the job or in any other case intrude with the rights of an employer to take care of a drug-free and alcohol-free office, and an employer can nonetheless refuse to rent an applicant primarily based on a scientifically legitimate pre-employment drug screening performed via strategies that do not display for non-psychoactive hashish metabolites.
Notably, the brand new legislation doesn’t preempt state or federal legal guidelines requiring candidates or staff to be examined for managed substances, together with legal guidelines and laws requiring candidates or staff to be examined, or the style through which they’re examined, as a situation of employment, receiving federal funding or federal licensing-related advantages, or coming into right into a federal contract. As well as, the brand new legislation doesn’t apply to candidates or staff employed for positions that require a federal authorities background investigation or safety clearance in accordance with laws issued by the USA Division of Protection pursuant to Half 117 of Title 32 of the Code of Federal Laws, or equal laws relevant to different companies.
Below present California legislation, noncompete agreements are typically unenforceable. Particularly, California Enterprise and Professions Code part 16600 voids contractual provisions by which an individual is restrained from participating in a lawful career, commerce or enterprise of any type, besides as in any other case offered. This Fall, Governor Newsom signed two legal guidelines that broaden worker protections and employer obligations relating to noncompete agreements, efficient January 1, 2024.
The primary new legislation, SB 699, signed on September 1, 2023 establishes that any contract that’s void below the legislation described above is unenforceable no matter the place and when the contract was signed. Accordingly, employers (or former employers) are prohibited from making an attempt to implement a contract that’s void even when the contract was signed, and the employment was maintained, outdoors of California. As well as, the brand new legislation prohibits an employer from coming into right into a contract with an worker or potential worker that features a provision that’s void below the legislation described above. Below the brand new legislation, an worker, former worker or potential worker could carry an motion to implement that legislation for injunctive reduction or the restoration of precise damages, or each, and a prevailing worker, former worker or potential worker is entitled to get well affordable lawyer’s charges and prices.
To keep away from the doubtless expensive penalties of violation, employers ought to overview their employment contracts to verify they adjust to this new legislation. Employers also needs to understand that they probably will be unable to depend on noncompete agreements signed by staff once they had been working in one other state if the worker begins working in California (even when the noncompete settlement was legitimate within the state of origin). Lastly, employers ought to guarantee they don’t seem to be counting on noncompete agreements as the one technique of defending confidential and commerce secret info, as they are going to be left weak when their noncompete is inevitably deemed unenforceable below California legislation.
The second new legislation, AB 1076, signed on October 13, 2023, codifies present case legislation (Edwards v. Arthur Andersen LLP (2008) 44 Cal.4th 937), by specifying that the statutory provision voiding noncompete contracts is to be broadly construed to void the applying of any noncompete settlement in an employment context, or any noncompete clause in an employment contract, regardless of how narrowly tailor-made, that doesn’t fulfill specified exceptions. The brand new legislation makes these provisions relevant to contracts the place the particular person being restrained just isn’t a celebration to the contract. Additional, the brand new legislation makes it illegal to incorporate a noncompete clause in an employment contract, or to require an worker to enter a noncompete settlement, that doesn’t fulfill specified exceptions. As well as, below this new legislation, employers should present written discover by February 14, 2024 to all present and former staff who had been employed after January 1, 2022 that any post-employment noncompete clause or settlement with the employer is void. A violation of those provisions constitutes an act of unfair competitors and will topic a violating employer to civil penalties.
To be able to guarantee compliance with this new legislation, employers ought to overview their agreements with present and former California staff to determine probably non-compliant agreements (together with staff who signed a legitimate noncompete settlement once they lived in one other state) and begin getting ready individualized, written notices to be despatched to the final identified handle and electronic mail handle of every coated worker by the February 14, 2024 deadline.
How the nuances of those new legal guidelines will likely be interpreted by the courts stays to be seen, and employers ought to seek the advice of with counsel on how they might influence their enterprise practices.
Along with the legal guidelines mentioned above, some new California legal guidelines apply particularly to sure industries. For instance, AB 1228 creates a brand new model of the Quick Meals Council and implements a brand new minimal wage price for quick meals restaurant staff ($20 per hour), whereas SB 525 establishes a number of separate minimal wage schedules for coated healthcare staff, which rely upon the character of the employer. As well as, AB 647 revises recall rights for grocery employees when there’s a change of management in a grocery institution. Additional, SB 723, which impacts hospitality and enterprise service industries, redefines the time period “laid-off worker,” removes references to COVID-19, and supplies that if an worker’s layoff is because of “a public well being directive, authorities shutdown order, lack of enterprise, a discount in pressure or different financial, nondisciplinary cause,” that worker is entitled to be given the chance for reemployment able through which they qualify.
We understand it is a lot to digest, and as all the time, we can be found to supply steering on finest practices to make sure compliance with these new updates in California.