In California, labor laws constantly change and evolve with each passing year. While these updates ultimately help to address emerging workplace issues and enhance employee protections, they also create new compliance obligations for CA employers, which can cause extra stress.

To help California manufacturers navigate these changes and ensure compliance, we’ve put together an overview to highlight what’s new in California labor laws for 2024.

Wage Laws

In response to ongoing economic changes and cost of living adjustments, the minimum wage in the state has seen another increase. Here's what employers need to know:

  • Effective January 1st, all employees in the state must be earning at least $16 per hour
  • Exempt employees must make at least $66,560 per year to avoid required overtime pay.
  • Computer professionals must earn a minimum of $115,763.35 per year (or $55.58 per hour) to be exempt from overtime.

Some counties in the state have a higher local minimum wage than what the state mandates. UC Berkeley keeps a list of minimum wage rates by locality, so be sure to check to ensure you’re in compliance.

Employee Benefits Laws

California has enacted legislation to enhance employee benefits regarding sick leave and reproductive loss, reflecting a broader commitment to worker welfare and support.

CA Paid Sick Leave (PSL)

Recent changes to California's Paid Sick Leave laws have expanded employee rights and employer responsibilities. These enhancements aim to improve labor conditions and safeguard worker health in California.

  • Effective January 1st, employers must generally provide five days or 40 hours of paid sick leave to all employees in California.
  • Employers are explicitly not allowed to ask for documentation for sick leave (e.g., medical notes).
  • Employers are banned from retaliating against employees for using sick leave.  
  • Collective bargaining agreements (CBAs) may differ from these new laws.

Different localities may have different requirements when it comes to sick leave. Check with your locality; and if there’s a conflict, choose the policy that is more generous to guarantee compliance.

Certain criteria must be met when it comes to the way employees accrue sick leave:

  • Employees must earn at least one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked beginning on their first day of employment.
    • For example, employees who work 40 hours per week would accrue 1.33 hours of paid sick leave each week.
  • Employees must be permitted to carry over accrued leave, but employers can limit an employee’s total accrued sick leave to 10 days or 80 hours.
  • Employers can also choose to front-load sick leave and give every employee 5 days beginning at every 12 month period.

Leave for Reproductive Loss

This new law applies to companies with five or more employees, whether they are part-time or full-time. The updates aim to provide more comprehensive coverage and flexibility for employees, reflecting changes in societal values and workplace dynamics.

  • Employees who experience a reproductive loss event are entitled to up to 5 days of leave. A reproductive loss event is defined as a miscarriage, stillbirth, failed adoption, failed surrogacy, or unsuccessful assisted reproduction.
  • If an employee experiences more than one loss event in a 12-month period, an employer is not obligated to grant leave in excess of 20 days in that period.
  • This is unpaid leave, but employees may use accrued time off (including sick, vacation, or PTO).
  • The days can be taken non-consecutively but within three months of the event.
  • Employers cannot retaliate against employees exercising their right to this leave, and employers must maintain confidentiality regarding this leave.

Safety Laws

Employers need to be aware of recent changes to employment safety laws focusing on workplace violence and COVID-19 prevention. Compliance with these updated laws will ensure legal adherence and contribute to the well-being and confidence of all employees, which will create a more productive and harmonious workplace.

Workplace Violence

Employers must now establish and maintain an effective Workplace Violence Prevention Plan by July 1st, 2024.

This rule applies to all employers with ten or more employees or employers with less than ten employees who are not open to the public. 

Employers will need a specific plan for every location they operate in. The requirements are as follows:

  • Employers must conduct a workplace violence risk assessment that is specific to each workplace.
  • Employers must develop a comprehensive documented prevention plan that includes employee engagement and participation during its development phase.
  • Employers must establish a violent incident log and account for each incident.
  • Employers must document compliance retention requirements for employee training attendance roster is one year. 

Unlawful violence is any assault, battery, or stalking that occurs in the workplace. It can be a threat or use of physical force against another employee that results in an injury, mental trauma, or stress, regardless of a sustained injury. 

Lawful acts of self-defense or defense of another person are not considered workplace violence.

**To help California manufacturers achieve compliance before the July 1st deadline, CMTC is offering interactive WVPP Group Introductory Workshops for only $150. During these workshops, CMTC’s HR Solutions Consultants will provide expert guidance as well as valuable templates & checklists to help you develop your plan, implement your plan, and train your employees.**

COVID-19 Prevention Updates

The following change applies to most employers, with the exception of those covered by the Aerosol Transmissible Diseases Standard. This broad applicability ensures that most workplaces will benefit from enhanced protective measures against COVID-19, promoting a healthier and more resilient workforce.

There has been a change to the definition of an “infectious period”:

  • For COVID-19 cases with symptoms, the infectious period is considered to be a minimum of 24 hours from the day of the onset.
  • Employees with symptomatic COVID-19 can return if 24 hours have passed without a fever, without the use of fever-reducing medications, and symptoms are mild and improving.
  • For COVID-19 cases with no symptoms, there is no infectious period for the purpose of isolation or exclusion.

When it comes to testing:

  • CalOSHA no longer recommends testing for all close contacts and instead recommends testing only for individuals with new COVID-19 symptoms, employees who have had close contact and are at high risk of severe disease, and employees who have contact with people who are at high risk of severe disease.


New compliance laws govern non-compete agreements, retaliation, and cannabis. These laws protect employees from restrictive covenants that could hinder their career mobility and ensure that employees can report grievances without fear of retribution. Additionally, the updated regulations regarding cannabis use acknowledge changing societal norms and provide guidelines that balance safety with personal rights.

Non-Compete Agreements in California

Effective January 1st, 2024, SB699 prohibits employers from entering into or attempting to enforce non-compete agreements.

This applies to all employers regardless of where or when the agreement was signed.

  • By February 14th, employers were required to notify any current or former employee that entered into a non-compete agreement that the agreement is now void.

Retaliation Presumption

A new law concerning retaliation introduces a rebuttable presumption in favor of the employee’s claim if the action occurs within 90 days of the protected activity. 

In other words, the law now assumes that claims of accusation are true until proven otherwise.

Examples of retaliatory actions include but are not limited to employment discharge, demotion, suspension, or threats.

New Cannabis Law

Effective January 1st, employers can no longer discriminate against a person if the discrimination is based upon the person’s use of cannabis off the job and away from the workplace.

Employers can still:

  • Prohibit the use, possession, or distribution of cannabis at work.
  • Exercise disciplinary actions for impairment when working.
  • Conduct drug screenings for cannabis in pre-employment and during employment, but most exclude non-psychoactive metabolites from the screening.

Start Ensuring Employment Law Compliance Today

CMTC’s goal is to help California’s manufacturers understand and remain compliant with all of the latest employment laws and regulations.

If you feel the constantly shifting landscape is becoming more and more difficult to keep up with, you’re not alone. Whether you need advice regarding handling wage compression caused by minimum wage increases or need help updating your employee handbook to accommodate the changes to workplace violence, CMTC’s experts are here to help.

Contact CMTC today, and together, we’ll find a custom HR solution that’s right for your business.

About the Author

Jeri Summer

Jeri Summer is Senior Manager of HR, Administration, & Recruitment at CMTC. She has over 25 years of strategic design and functional implementation experience in Recruitment, Human Resources, and HR Business Process Outsourcing services. As part of a global Human Resources consulting firm, she provided leadership to a team of 500 global recruiting professionals that produced 100,000 hires annually. Prior to joining CMTC, Jeri held senior leadership positions at Aon-Hewitt and The Right Thing/ADP, providing direction to the national Human Resources Outsourcing teams in recruiting services and human capital management.

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