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Be Prepared: New Employment Laws in California (2024)

Trinity E. Taylor

With a new year come new laws. Below are five employment laws that will take effect in California in 2024.

Paid Sick Leave Increases

Effective January 1, 2024, Assembly Bill (“AB”) 616 will, require employers to provide at least 40 hours or 5 days, whichever is more, in paid sick leave (“PSL”) to employees who work at least 30 days with an employer, including part-time employees. Employers may “front load” PSL by giving each employee 40 hours or 5 days of PSL at the beginning of employment.

Employers may utilize the accrual method for PSL (e.g., 1 hour of PSL for every 30 hours worked) so long as the employee accrues 24 hours (or 3 days) of PSL by the 120th day of employment and 40 hours, or 5 days, of PSL by the 200th day of employment. Under the accrual method, employees can “carry over” unused PSL in each year of employment. However, employers are entitled to cap accrual at 80 hours or 10 days of PSL. Furthermore, an employer may limit an employee’s use of accrued paid sick days to 40 hours or five days in each year of employment.

What hasn’t changed? An employer may still require the employee work for 90 days before taking PSL. Employers may also continue using their paid time off (PTO) plan instead of a separate PSL plan so long as it meets the minimum requirements of PSL.

Because paid sick laws have changed, employers should post the updated Labor Code section 2810.5 poster, as required by law.

Minimum Wage Increases

Effective January 1, 2024, the state minimum wage will increase to $16 per hour, with some exceptions. 

Fast Food Industry: Effective April 1, 2024, fast food workers of a “National Fast Food Chain” will have a minimum wage of $20 per hour pursuant to AB 1228, unless covered by a superseding collective bargaining agreement.  

Health Care Industry: Effective June 1, 2024, most employees who work in the health care field will receive a significant increase in minimum wage under Senate Bill (“SB”) 525. SB 525 establishes multiple separate minimum wage schedules for covered healthcare employees, depending on the nature of the employer, but covered employees may expect to see an increase to at least $18 per hour.

Employers are encouraged to review local city and county minimum wage ordinances, which may provide for a higher minimum wage. Furthermore, employers should review exempt employees’ salaries to ensure these salaries are no less than two times the state minimum wage (i.e., $66,560).

SB 848 – Leave for Reproductive Loss

Structured as part of California’s Bereavement Leave law, covered employees are now entitled to take up to five days of unpaid leave of absence for a “reproductive loss event,” which includes failed adoption, failed surrogacy, miscarriage, stillbirth, or unsuccessful assisted reproduction. Covered employees must take their leave within three months of the reproductive loss event, and the leave may be nonconsecutive. Additionally, covered employees are entitled to five days leave for each reproductive loss event, not to exceed 20 days within a 12-month period. Any information provided to the employer must be maintained as confidential, unless it is necessary to disclose to internal personnel or counsel. 

SB 497 – Rebuttable Presumption of Retaliation

The Equal Pay and Anti-Retaliation Protection Act, effective January 1, 2024, creates a rebuttable presumption of retaliation if an employer takes any adverse employment action against the employee engaging in a protected activity, within 90 days of that activity.

SB 731 – 30 Days’ Written Notice to Return to Work in Person

SB 731 makes it an unlawful business practice for an employer to require an employee who is working from home to return to work in-person unless the employer has given at least 30 days written notice. The employer’s notice is required to include the following text:

“You have the right to ask your employer to allow you to continue working remotely as an accommodation if you have a disability. Your employer is required to engage in a timely, good faith, interactive process to determine if there are effective reasonable accommodations for your disability, including working remotely. If you are able to perform all of your essential job functions while working remotely, your employer must grant your request unless it would create an undue hardship for your employer, an alternative reasonable accommodation is available, or you do not meet the definition of disability under the law. You can learn more about your rights at https://calcivilrights.ca.gov/accommodation/.”

AB 594 – Public Prosecutors Enforcing the Labor Code

AB 594 permits city, district, and county attorneys, as well as the Attorney General, to prosecute civil and criminal violations of the Labor Code that occur in their respective jurisdictions. This bill also provides that any arbitration agreement between employer and employee shall have no effect on the public prosecutor’s authority to enforce the Labor Code. Money recovered by public prosecutors will first be distributed among affected workers and civil penalties will be paid to the state’s general fund.

These are just a handful of new employment laws for 2024. If you have questions about any of these new laws or how they may affect your organization, you should consult your attorney.

About the author Trinity E. Taylor

Trinity is a driven, client-focused trial lawyer.