Part 2: Important 2024 Legal Updates for CA

12.12.23Baylee Davies

It’s no secret California has had a busy year for new employment-related laws!  You can read about many of the laws and regulations employers should be aware of for 2024 in Part 1 of this series: California 2023/24 Legal Update.

To make sure we keep our clients fully informed, our Legal Update – Part 2 covers additional current employment laws that may apply to California employers.

SB 553: Occupational Safety: Workplace Violence

The new Workplace Violence regulation requires almost all California employers to take steps to prevent workplace violence. Some of the situations that are not covered by these regulations are employees who work remotely from a location that is outside the control of the employer, such as the employee’s home, and places of employment that have fewer than 10 employees working at a given time and the workplace is not accessible to the general public.

This includes developing a comprehensive Workplace Violence Plan by July 1, 2024, tailored to the employer’s specific workplace hazards. The plan must be in writing and may be incorporated in the company’s Injury and Illness Prevention Program (IIPP) or it may be a stand-alone document.

There are various specific requirements that need to be included in the Workplace Violence Prevention Plan, such as procedures to identify and correct workplace hazards, how employees report an incident, threat, or other concern, how these reports will be investigated, and measures to ensure employees will comply with the plan including providing training to employees.

Employers are also required to keep written logs of every incident of workplace violence for five years. This log should include a detailed description of the incident, who committed the violence, whether law enforcement was called, and what actions the employer took to protect against continuing or future threats.

More information and a model template for the Workplace Violence Plan are expected to be released before the July 1st deadline. We will keep you posted on future developments.

SB 723: Expanded Rehire Rights for Laid-Off Hospitality and Building Services Employees

Currently, employees in the hospitality and building service industries (e,g, janitorial or security services) who were laid off due to the pandemic are entitled to be rehired by their company if they are qualified for the newly open position. They are eligible if they were employed with the company for at least 6 months in the year preceding January 1, 2020. SB 723 expands the number of covered employees to include those who were ever employed for at least six months within any timeframe and were laid off on or after March 4, 2020. The separation would need to have been due to a lack of business, reduction in force, or other economic non-disciplinary reasons related to the COVID pandemic.

AB 1228: Fast Food Restaurant Industry

This bill repeals and replaces the FAST Act, which was passed in September 2022 and had been put on hold. This new law reflects an agreement reached between labor representatives and fast food companies.

AB 1228 applies to national fast food chains which are defined as “limited-service restaurants consisting of more than 60 establishments nationally that share a common brand, or that are characterized by standardized options for decor, marketing, packaging, products, and services, and which are primarily engaged in providing food and beverages for immediate consumption on or off premises where patrons generally order or select items and pay before consuming, with limited or no table service.”

The new law sets up a Fast Food Council that will have the ability to adjust the hourly minimum wage each year from 2025 to 2029. They may also recommend other workplace standards to state agencies, but will not have the authority to implement these standards by themselves.

The minimum wage for employees in eligible fast-food restaurants will increase to $20 per hour on April 1, 2024. An exempt employee in an eligible fast food restaurant will need to make double the fast food minimum wage which will be $83,200 on an annual salary basis. Each year after that, the Fast Food Council may increase the minimum wage by the lesser of 3.5% or the average change in the US Consumer Price Index.

SB 525: Minimum Wage Increase for Healthcare Workers

This bill establishes different minimum wage schedules depending on the nature of the healthcare employer. Some of those schedules are listed below. Be sure to review the law to determine if your organization is included and what its minimum wage schedule will be.

  • For large employers with more than 10,000 full-time employees, who are part of an integrated healthcare delivery system, that is a dialysis clinic or operated by a county with a population of 5,000,000 or more, the minimum wage will be $23 per hour beginning on June 1, 2024, and will increase to $24 per hour on June 1, 2025.
  • For a hospital that has a high government payer mix, is a rural independent facility, or a county-run facility in a low-population county, the minimum wage will increase to $18 per hour on June 1, 2024, and will increase by 3.5% annually. 
  • For primary care free clinics, and community and rural clinics, the minimum wage will increase to $21 per hour on June 1, 2024, and to $22 per hour on June 1, 2026.
  • For a covered healthcare employee to be considered exempt from overtime, they must earn a monthly salary equivalent to no less than 150% of the healthcare minimum wage or 200% of the applicable minimum wage, whichever is greater.

The law applies to a broad range of healthcare workers from patient care roles such as physicians and nurses to support positions such as janitors, gift shop workers, and clerical workers.

Need help navigating complex employment laws? Our HR Consultants are able to assist in strategizing and implementing any changes that will affect your organization in 2024.  Additionally, if you are looking to rapidly expand your team in 2024, we want you to be aware of a new service line offering that will ease the burden of applicant review.  Find out more here. We look forward to supporting you in 2024!

Author: Traci Hagan