New California Employment Laws Coming Jan 1

October 21, 2023

There’s never a dull moment in employment compliance in California. As with 2023, we’re seeing quite a few laws being signed that will come into effect in 2024. Here’s what you need to know:  

Employment Law Update: New Laws Coming Jan 1 2024

Wage and Hour Update 

Starting January 1, 2024, California’s Minimum Wage will increase to $16 per hour for all employers (unless your local minimum wage is higher, in which case the higher rate will apply).  

New Leave Laws 

California’s Paid Sick Leave Entitlement Expands to 5 Days 

Starting January 1, 2024, employees paid, job-protected sick leave hours will increase to 5 days or 40 hours, whichever is greater.  

Employers are still free to choose the lump sum or an accrual method, however, for the accrual method, the employee must accrue 3 days/24 hours of paid sick leave by the 120th calendar day of employment; and 5 days/40 hours by the 200th calendar day of employment. Currently, the law requires that employees accrue 1 hour for every 30 hours of work. However, this calculation may not allow employees to earn the minimum accrual by the mandated times beginning in 2024 if the employees are working on a part-time basis. Employers should be cognizant that part-time employees may require different accrual methods or may need to use the lump sum method. 

What should employers do? 

Employers should update employee handbooks to reflect this entitlement, including the processes for employees to take their protected, paid leave. Employers must also consider whether the lump sum or accrual method is the most cost-effective and compliant for their businesses. 

Reproductive Loss Leave 

Private employers in California with more than five employees will need to provide up to five protected days (unpaid)within three months of the loss.  

It applies to employees who have experienced a failed adoption or surrogacy, a miscarriage or stillbirth, or an unsuccessful assisted reproduction procedure. It will apply to the person, the person’s spouse or partner, or another individual who would have been a parent. Employees may use any type of paid leave entitlements to obtain pay during the time off. 

The law comes into effect on January 1, 2024. 

Next steps for employers: 

Employers should update employee handbooks to reflect this entitlement, including the processes for employees to take their protected leave. 

Workplace Safety & Employee Protections 

Increased Reporting and Training on Workplace Violence 

Starting July 1, 2024, California employers will have increased obligations relating to workplace violence, including a requirement for employers to create and implement a comprehensive workplace violence prevention plan.  

The workplace violence prevention plan must include (amongst other things):  

  • The names and/or job titles of those responsible for implementing the plan. 
  • Procedures to involve employees in the development of the workplace violence prevention plan, including the identification of hazards. 
  • Procedures for employers to ensure compliance with the plan. 
  • Details about how employers will communicate with employees regarding how they can report workplace violence without fear of reprisal, and how employee concerns will be investigated. 
  • Details about procedures for managing actual or potential violence in the workplace.  
  • The procedures for post-incident investigations.  
  • Procedures to review the effectiveness of the plan and revise it, if necessary. 

Next steps for employers: 

The planning and training requirements under this law are substantial. Employers should begin planning as soon as possible to meet the July 1 deadline. Legal counsel should be consulted to create a workplace violence prevention plan. 

Non-Compete Prohibition Strengthened 

SB 699, which was signed on September 1, arguably voids any employment agreement containing a non-compete. To be clear, it doesn’t just invalidate the non-compete clause – it may invalidate the entire agreement.  

Employees will also be able to recover reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs from their employer or former employer to seek injunctive relief and/or actual damages, and employers could be subject to criminal penalties. 

Next steps for employers: 

Employers should remove non-compete clauses from employment contracts and any other agreements with their employees that contain these provisions. New agreements will need to be created and signed. 

30 Days’ Notice For Return to Office 

Employers must provide at least 30 calendar days’ notice before requiring employees to return to work in person if they have been working from home. The notice must outline information about reasonable accommodation for employees with disabilities.  

Employers Not Permitted to Ask About Previous Cannabis Use 

Starting January 1, 2024, it will be unlawful for employers to ask job applicants about their prior use of cannabis. Employers will only be permitted to ask if other state or federal laws permit it.  

Next steps for employers: 

Unless other state or federal laws apply, employers should remove this question from any applicant questionnaires and/or interview lists and train HR teams about this new law.  

Rebuttable Presumption of Retaliation 

Employers will be presumed to have retaliated against employees if they are subject to certain disciplinary actions within 90 days of making a wage claim or complaint. Employers can rebut this presumption by showing that they had a legitimate reason for the disciplinary action (that was not retaliation).  

Employers may also be fined up to $10,000 per employee for each violation of the retaliation law.  

Because this law makes it easier for employees to establish a prima facie case of retaliation, California employers may wish to adjust how they approach disciplining employees. This may include an emphasis on documenting employee performance issues, retraining human resources departments, and ensuring supervisors are aware of the importance of such documentation. 

If your company needs advice about any of these changes, reach out. Our employment attorneys would love to help. 



The materials available at this website are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. You should contact your attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem. Use of and access to this website or any of the e-mail links contained within the site do not create an attorney-client relationship between CGL and the user or browser. The opinions expressed at or through this site are the opinions of the individual author and may not reflect the opinions of the firm or any individual attorney.

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