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New laws that will take effect for employers in January 2024

Updated: Dec 19, 2023


On average, it is estimated that 75 new federal and state labor laws are implemented each year that impact the work world. This makes it challenging for companies to be aware of the details and mostly, what impact it will have on your business.

Typically these new statutes are finalized by November of each year so as to allow companies the time to prepare on how they will implement those laws in their company culture.


As they usually become effective January 1 of the following year, these changes may require adding new policy provisions to your employee handbook, training managers on the nuance and compliance policies of these new additions, and reassessing how these may impact your bottom line.


Here is a brief summary of the new 2024 laws and what you should be aware of:

EQUAL PAY RETALIATION

° Raises retaliation as an issue when an employee engages in protected conduct by complaining of unpaid wages, reporting suspected unlawful activity, and complaining of equal pay violations.

° $10,000 penalty per employee violation


MARIJUANA PROTECTION

° Prohibits employers from asking applicants and employers of prior marijuana use.

° Drug tests must now focus on individuals’ own baseline performance and tests that identify THC in an individual’s bodily fluids.

° Does not prohibit employers from disciplining employees under the influence.

° Applies to construction trades and employers required to conduct federal background checks.


MERGERS – GROCERY STORES AND RETAIL DRUG STORES

° Provides certain rights to grocery and pharmacy workers, and requires notification to the California Attorney General 180 days before a merger, and any impact on wages.


MINIMUM WAGE INCREASES

° In General, increases to $16 for all employers.

° For Salaried employees, minimum wage increase is $66,550.

° Fast-food industry – Minimum wage to $20 an hour beginning April 1, 2024 for national food chains. Establishes Fast Food Council to determine minimum wage increases yearly thereafter by the lesser of 3.5% or average change in consumer price index. Requires employers to pay $15 food handler’s card costs.

° Health Industry – Minimum wage to $16.50 per hour. After June 1, 2026, $20 - $21 per hour based on the number of employees.


NONCOMPETE AGREEMENTS

° Prohibits non-compete agreements in employment contracts regardless if contract was signed outside CA, the employee works outside of CA, and/or the employer is not in CA.

° Requires private cause of action to enforce the law, provide injunctive relief, award monetary damages and/or attorney fees and costs.

° Applies to any employer who has a noncompete provision in their contracts.

° Requires notice by February 14, 2024, to last known address or email to employees who have a noncompete agreement.


NOTICE TO EMPLOYEE UPDATE

° Adds provision to Notice to Employee to notify employees about federal or state disaster declarations that may affect their health and safety.

° Applies to agriculture for health and safety.


REPRODUCTIVE LEAVE

Allows for up to 5 days unpaid leave for reproduction loss event.

° Loss events include failed adoption, failed surrogacy, miscarriage, stillbirth or an unsuccessful assisted reproduction.

° Allows for up to 20 days leave per 12-month period.

° Allows for use of accrued sick or vacation time.

° Must have worked at least 30 days and can be taken within three months of lost event.

° Prohibits retaliation for use of leave.


SICK LEAVE INCREASES

Increases the number of paid sick leave days from 3 to 5 days. W

° Eligible to accrue once 30 or more days have been worked.

° Employee may use PSL beginning on their 90th day of employment and can be requested verbally or by written request.

° Cannot require employee to find replacement worker to cover for PSL

° Does not have to be paid upon separation; however, if rehired within one year, accrued and unused PSL must be reinstated

° May cap at 10 days or 80 hours.

° Shall be carried over every year. If so, can cap leave at 40 hours per year.

° If leave is upfronted each new year, there are no accrual or carryover.


REHIRE RIGHTS FOR LAID OFF EMPLOYEES

° Requires employers to make offer of reemployment to laid off workers for reasons to include lack of business, reduction in workforce, or other economic, non-disciplinary reason (i.e., related to Covid),

° and who worked a minimum of six months prior to March 4, 2020.

° Expires December 31, 2025.


WAGE THEFT – PUBLIC PROSECUTION

° Allows for public prosecutors, attorneys to bring civil and criminal cases for labor code violations.

° Employees can recover damages for unpaid wages. Any civil penalties will go to the General Fund of California.

° Cannot be included in an arbitration agreement.

° It is separate but can be in addition to Labor Commission PAGA review claims.


WORKPLACE RESTRAINING ORDER

Beginning in Jan 1, 2025, employers will be able to request a temporary restraining order for an employee who has been harassed.


WORKPLACE VIOLENCE

New OSHA requirement for employers to establish and maintain a workplace violence and prevention program by July 1, 2024, to include training, hazard identification, evaluation and correction, training records, violent incident logs, and workplace incident investigation records.


If you would like a complimentary review of your policies and employee handbook to determine if you are in compliance, please click on the "Click Me" button below.



















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