Gavel with Employment Law Book on table

New Employment Laws for a New Year 

Law Offices of Joel P. Waelty  Feb. 7, 2024

2024 is alive and well. And so are a few new employment laws. From greater wage transparency and expanded leave, to violence protection measures and so much more, California has introduced several new laws aimed at enhancing the rights and protections of the state's workers. Here are the highlights.  

An Uplift for Minimum Wage Workers  

Starting from January 1, 2024, there's good news for non-exempt workers in the Golden State. California has decided to increase the minimum wage to $16 per hour for all employers. This isn't just a win for those on hourly wages, but also impacts exempt workers whose salaries must be higher than the minimum wage.  

But that's not all. Fast food workers have an even bigger reason to celebrate. Their minimum wage will rise to $20 per hour from April 1, 2024, with annual increments set till 2029. Additionally, healthcare workers will also see an increment in their minimum wage, with the exact amount based on the size and type of the healthcare facility they work for.  

New: Reproductive Loss Leave 

In a move aimed at showing compassion and understanding, the state has introduced protected leave of up to 5 days for employees suffering from reproductive loss events like miscarriages or failed adoptions.  

This means that if your employer falls under the jurisdiction of the California Family Rights Act, grieving parents can take necessary time off without worrying about losing their jobs.  

More: Paid Sick Leave  

In another win for employees, California has expanded its paid sick leave law. Employees can now accrue up to 40 hours of leave annually, marking a significant increase from the earlier 24 hours. This change is aimed at providing employees with more time to take care of their health and the health of their families.  

Update: Noncompetition Agreements Are Now Void 

California has stepped up its game against noncompetition agreements as well. These agreements are now void, and employees have the right to challenge them, seeking relief, damages, and attorney's fees.  

What this means: You have the legal right to change your job and seek work where you want to. Competition is now fair play, and employees can't be locked into a particular company by noncompete agreements anymore.  

More: Protections for Cannabis Use 

The newly enacted laws forbid employers from discriminating against employees for their off-duty, off-site cannabis use. Additionally, these laws limit the use of drug test results that detect non-psychoactive cannabis metabolites as the sole basis for unfavorable employment decisions.  

In other words, you're now allowed to use cannabis during your non-working hours without fear of losing your job or facing discrimination.  

Update: Wage Theft Prevention Notices 

In order to promote fairness and transparency in the workplace, employers are now legally required to provide comprehensive wage theft prevention notices. These notices serve as a means to educate employees about their rights and prevent any potential instances of wage theft, ensuring that workers are fully aware of their entitlements and are protected from any form of exploitation.  

New: Workplace Violence Prevention Plan Requirements 

Employers must establish comprehensive plans to prevent workplace violence. This includes providing thorough training sessions for employees and equipping them with the necessary knowledge and skills to identify and address potential risks. Additionally, maintaining detailed records related to the prevention plan will help in monitoring its effectiveness and making any necessary improvements.  

More: Protection Against Anti-Retaliation  

Under another new law, if an employee faces an adverse action within 90 days of engaging in protected activities (such as reporting a violation of laws or regulations, disclosing information about the employer's illegal activities, and participating in an investigation or proceeding related to the employer's violations), it is presumed as employer retaliation.  

This will make it easier for employees to establish cases of retaliation and seek appropriate legal action should they need to.  

Update: Arbitration Enforcement 

Lastly, trial court proceedings will no longer be automatically stayed pending an appeal of an order denying a motion to compel arbitration. This means that rulings on the enforceability of arbitration agreements can now be immediately appealed, resulting in quicker resolution of disputes.  

Get Your Questions Answered by a Lawyer 

Protecting your rights and well-being at the workplace starts with understanding your state's employment laws. Keeping up with new statutes and requirements can be tricky, but it's essential for you to stay informed. Don't hesitate to seek clarification from your employers or legal professionals — especially if you think your rights are being violated. 

At the Law Offices of Joel P. Waelty in San Jose, California, their employment attorney is here to help you understand these changes better. And if you need skilled representation, Attorney Waelty will stand up for you. Reach out today to set up a time to talk.