November 17, 2023


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2024 is set to be a pivotal year for employment law changes in California. Whether you’re an employer or an employee, staying informed about the latest legal shifts is crucial. ILG Legal is here to guide you through the maze of new and updated laws affecting minimum wage, sick leave, reproductive rights, noncompetes, and more.

Minimum Wage: On the Rise for a Fairer Future

Starting in 2024, California’s minimum wage is set to increase to $16.00 per hour for all employers, regardless of size. This is an increase from California’s current minimum wage of $15.50 per hour and reflects California’s ongoing commitment to higher wage standards. Additionally, California Senate Bill 525 was signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom on October 13, 2023, mandating an increase in the minimum wage for healthcare workers to $25 per hour by June 2026. This law also introduces a new salary threshold to determine exempt healthcare employees, who are not subject to overtime regulations. The legislation encompasses all healthcare workers across various settings, regardless of their employment status with the facility.

Impact on Overtime Exemption Test

The increase in the minimum wage in California also affects the minimum salary threshold for exempt employees. In California, to qualify for the overtime exemption, an employee must earn a minimum monthly salary equivalent to twice the state minimum wage for full-time employment. With the minimum wage rising to $16.00 per hour, the new minimum salary for exempt employees will be $5,546.67 per month (or $66,560 annually), up from the current threshold based on the $15.50 per hour minimum wage.

Additionally, California’s AB 1228 sets a $20 minimum wage specifically for workers in fast food establishments that are part of a national chain with more than 60 locations. The legislation defines these chains by their standardized branding, menu, and service models, which typically include ordering and paying before eating with limited table service. This wage increase aims to improve the earnings of fast-food workers in large, standardized restaurant chains across the state.

Sick Leave: Adapting to a Post-Pandemic World

The State of California has broadened the scope of paid sick leave with the passage of SB 616. This legislative move comes as a response to a wave of local Paid Sick Leave (PSL) mandates enacted by various cities across the state. On October 4, Governor Newsom approved SB 616, which enhances the Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014 by introducing several significant changes. These amendments carry far-reaching consequences as they extend to nearly all workers in California who spend at least 30 days working within the state annually. Given the extensive coverage of this law, it’s crucial for employers to prepare for and adapt to these new requirements promptly.

SB 365 Ends Automatic Stay of Litigation During Appeals on Arbitration Orders

With the enactment of SB 365, the automatic suspension of litigation throughout the appeals process is a thing of the past. Governor Newsom has signed off on legislation stipulating that proceedings in California trial courts will no longer be put on hold during the appeal of an order that dismisses or rejects a petition to compel arbitration. Set to take effect on January 1, 2024, this new statute grants courts the authority to determine if a case should continue during the pendency of an appeal.

Compassionate Leave for Reproductive Loss: Understanding SB 848

California Senate Bill 848 acknowledges the profound impact of reproductive loss on employees and mandates compassionate leave to grieve. This legislation entitles employees to take time off for the loss of a pregnancy, providing them with the necessary space to recover emotionally and physically without the added stress of work obligations. SB 848 is a significant step towards recognizing reproductive loss as a valid reason for leave, reflecting a growing awareness of its effects on employees’ well-being.

California Strengthens Worker Mobility with Assembly Bill 1076 Banning Noncompete Agreements

California Assembly Bill 1076, signed into law on October 13, 2023, strengthens the state’s prohibitions against noncompete agreements in employment contracts. The bill amends Section 16600 of the Business and Professions Code to reflect the California Supreme Court’s decision in Edwards v. Arthur Anderson, effectively making it unfair competition to include or enforce noncompete clauses in employment agreements. This legislative action underlines California’s commitment to safeguarding the free movement and trade of workers, ensuring that employees can pursue opportunities in their field without being hindered by previous employment contracts.

California Enacts SB 699 to Void Noncompete Agreements

Senate Bill 699, signed by Governor Newsom on September 1, 2023, is set to reinforce California’s stance against noncompete agreements, bolstering the state’s public policy that supports employee mobility and open competition. Effective January 1, 2024, this law makes it illegal for employers to enter into or attempt to enforce noncompete agreements with employees, rendering such agreements void across the board in California. This includes noncompete contracts made outside of California, ensuring that all such agreements are unenforceable regardless of the location where the employee worked or where the agreement was signed. SB 699 also introduces a private right of action for employees, allowing them to seek legal remedies, including attorney fees, against employers who attempt to impose unlawful noncompete agreements.

Strengthening Employee Protections: California’s SB 497 Bolsters Anti-Retaliation and Equal Pay Measures

Effective January 1, 2024, California’s Senate Bill 497, known as the Equal Pay and Anti-Retaliation Protection Act, amends various sections of the California Labor Code to bolster protections for employees engaged in legally protected activities. The Act specifically aims to protect employees who file complaints, participate in investigations, or exercise their rights under labor laws from discrimination or adverse actions by employers. SB 497 introduces higher civil penalties of up to $10,000 per violation against employers who retaliate in such contexts. Furthermore, it reinforces the principles of equal pay for substantially similar work and safeguards employees from retaliation related to wage transparency—ensuring they can freely disclose, discuss, or inquire about wages without fear of employer retribution.

Staying Ahead of the Curve with ILG Legal

Navigating these changes can be complex, but ILG Legal is here to help. We offer expert legal advice and compliance strategies to ensure you’re ahead of the curve. Whether you’re revising company policies or seeking to understand your rights, our team is ready to assist.

The year 2024 brings significant changes to California’s employment laws, reflecting the state’s progressive values and its commitment to worker rights. From minimum wage increases to strengthening worker mobility, these changes underscore California’s role as a leader in employment law reform. Stay connected with ILG Legal for the latest insights and guidance in this dynamic legal landscape.

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and should not be considered as legal advice.