With new legal requirements facing California employers in 2024, this Friday Five article focuses on five initial steps that employers can begin implementing now and other employment law deadlines in 2024:
1. Minimum wage and exempt wages of employees: Adjust the wage level for raising the minimum wage and ensure that exempt employees are paid the minimum wage to qualify as exempt.
Effective January 1, 2024, California’s minimum wage will increase to $16 an hour. Employers should be aware that higher rates may apply in cities (such as San Francisco) or counties (such as Los Angeles) that enforce their own minimum wages, and employers must comply with the maximum. the applicable minimum wage.
To qualify as an exempt employee, the employee must be paid a monthly salary equal to no less than two times the state minimum wage for full-time employment. With the increase in the state minimum wage on January 1, 2024, employers must pay a salary of at least $66,560 per year ($5,546.67 per month).
2. Update the reproductive loss leave policy
Employers must update bereavement leave policies to comply with SB 848, which expands employee bereavement rights effective January 1, 2024. A “reproductive loss event” is defined to include a failed adoption, failed surrogacy, miscarriage, stillbirth, or unsuccessful assisted reproduction. The law applies to private employers with five or more employees, all public employers, and employees who have worked for the employer for at least 30 days. As with bereavement leave requirements, this leave may be unpaid; however, the employee may use other accrued leave. Employees must take leave within 3 months of the event of reproductive loss, and an employer must not provide more than 20 days in a 12-month period.
3. Review policies to remove noncompetition provisions by January 1, 2024, and provide notices to current and former employees by February 14, 2024.
Effective January 1, 2024, SB 699 repeals any contract that prevents an employee from engaging in a legal profession, trade, or business of any kind, or a noncompetition agreement. This prohibits an employer from seeking to enforce a noncompetition agreement, regardless of where or when the contract was signed. This restriction applies even if the contract is signed outside of California or if the work is performed outside of California. SB 699 also allows an employee, former employee, or prospective employee to bring an action seeking injunctive relief or for recovery of actual damages, and allows the prevailing employee, former employee, or prospective employee to recover reasonable attorney’s fees and costs.
Similarly, AB 1076, which also takes effect on January 1, 2024, makes it illegal to impose a noncompete clause on employees unless a narrow exception applies. Employers should review all offer letters, employment agreements, or other policies distributed to employees to determine if there are any non-compete clauses with them. If such policies exist, employers must notify all current and former employees employed after January 1, 2022, that any non-compete agreement or similar clause within their agreement is void, unless it falls within one of the exceptions. This notification must be made by February 14, 2023, and will be made in a written, individual communication delivered to the last known address and email address.
4. Changing the Fast Food Industry
Fast Food Minimum Wage
AB 1228 applies to national fast-food chains, which are defined as: limited-service restaurants consisting of more than 60 establishments in the country that share the same brand or that are characterized by standardized options for decoration, marketing, packaging, products, and services; and “providing primarily food and beverages for immediate indoor or outdoor consumption in places where patrons typically order or select items and pay before eating, with limited or no service on the table.” The minimum wage for these restaurants will increase to $20 per hour on April 1, 2024. Fast food employers should begin taking steps to ensure that their payroll companies participate in this higher minimum wage.
Food Handler Card Fees
The current law requires food handlers to obtain a food handler card within 30 days from the date of their hiring and to maintain the card throughout their employment. Effective January 1, 2024, SB 476 requires employers to pay the $15 training and examination cost and reimburse the employee for the training time to obtain certification (which is approximately two and a half hours). The law also prohibits employers from conditioning employment with an existing food handler card.
5. Updating Paid Sick Leave, Employee Notifications, and Developing a Workplace Violence and Prevention Program
Update paid sick leave policies and ensure proper tracking of paid sick leave amounts by January 1, 2024.
Starting January 1, 2024, employers must provide five days, or 40 hours. Employers can control the amount used per year for five days or 40 hours per year and cap accrual for 10 days or 80 hours. Many California cities, including West Hollywood, have established local paid sick leave ordinances that provide more leave than is required under California law. Employers should be sure to review local ordinances to determine which leave applies.
Update Notice To Employees Under Labor Code Section 2810.5 on January 1, 2024.
Labor Code § 2810.5 requires employers to provide a Notice to Employees to all new employees that includes certain information. Effective January 1, 2024, AB 636 requires employers to include “the availability of a federal or state emergency or disaster declaration applicable to the county or counties in which the employee will be employed, and that is issued within 30 days before the employee’s first day of work, which may affect their health and safety during their work.
Beginning March 15, 2024, employers with employees admitted pursuant to the federal H-2A agricultural visa must include specific information in the 2810.5 notice about their rights as agricultural workers. The Labor Commissioner is required to publish the updated sample notice on March 1, 2024.
In addition, employers must also update the 2010 notice to include the increased amount of paid sick leave provided to employees beginning January 1, 2024.
Create a workplace violence and prevention program by July 1, 2024.
OSHA requires employers to establish and maintain an effective injury prevention program. SB 553 requires employers to establish and maintain a workplace violence and prevention program. This includes effective workplace violence prevention plan training and maintaining workplace violence risk identification, evaluation, and correction records, training records, violent incident records, and workplace incident investigations. Employers have until July 1, 2024, to establish this program.