January 3, 2024

Your Business News & Updates

The City of Laguna Niguel proudly provides timely news, information, resources, programs and updates for our business community.
Visit our Economic Development Webpage

Featured Business of the Month

Zesty Olives eatery

Congratulations Zesty Olives for being our next Featured Business. 


Our free Featured Business program highlights Laguna Niguel's spectacular restaurants, stores, establishments, and other brick-and-mortar companies. The program has become a model to other cities in Orange County, which continue to launch similar programs.


Take a moment to check out the video we produced on this wonderful Laguna Niguel business, which benefits others and is located at 30242 Crown Valley Pkwy. Ste 4B.


If your business is interested in being featured as part of this free program, contact econdev@cityoflagunaniguel.org or 949-362-4300.

California New Laws for 2024

The new year brings significant labor and employment law updates that will impact employers in California. Employers should be prepared to comply with the numerous bills, many of which took effect January 1, unless otherwise noted.


Increased minimum wage

Minimum wage in the state of California increased on January 1 by 50 cents or to $16 an hour. The minimum exempt salary for California employees, which is tied to the state’s minimum wage, rose from $64,480 to $66,560.

California is also raising the minimum wage requirements for employees in the healthcare and fast-food industries.


HEALTHCARE MINIMUM WAGE (EFFECTIVE JUNE 1)

Senate Bill 525 requires California healthcare facilities to raise minimum wage schedules beginning on June 1. The applicable minimum wage schedules (from $18 per hour up to $23 per hour) will depend on the type of healthcare facility and the nature and size of the business. In addition to the varying minimum wage schedules, SB 525 requires healthcare workers who are paid on a salary basis to earn a monthly salary equivalent to at least 150% of the healthcare worker minimum wage, or 200% of the applicable state minimum wage, whichever is greater.


FAST FOOD WORKER MINIMUM WAGE (EFFECTIVE APRIL 1)

Assembly Bill 1228 requires California fast-food restaurants to raise minimum wage for employees to $20 per hour beginning on April 1, 2024. This applies to chains of limited-service restaurants consisting of more than 60 establishments that share common branding, marketing, and products. The bill also establishes and authorizes a Fast-Food Council to set fast-food restaurant standards for minimum wage, and develop proposals for other working conditions, including health and safety standards and training.


Employee leave

SICK LEAVE

Senate Bill 616 increases the required paid sick leave for employees from three days (24 hours) to five days (40 hours) for full-time employees. Employers “front loading” sick leave must provide five days (40 hours) at the beginning of the year. Employers using an accrual method must ensure employees have no less than 24 hours by the 120th calendar day of employment and at least 40 hours by the 200th calendar day of employment. Employers using the accrual method must also allow accrued sick days to carry over to the following year. However, an employer may limit an employee’s use of accrued paid sick days to 40 hours each year. The law also increases accrual threshold from six days (48 hours) to 10 days (80 hours).


REPRODUCTIVE LOSS LEAVE

Senate Bill 848 requires employers with five or more employees to provide up to five days of unpaid leave following a “reproductive loss event,” defined as “the day or, for a multiple-day event, the final day of a failed adoption, failed surrogacy, miscarriage, stillbirth, or an unsuccessful assisted reproduction.”

Reproductive leave loss is capped at 20 days within a 12-month period, though employees are permitted to use other types of available leave such as PTO, sick leave, etc.

Any information provided to the employer relating to the leave must be maintained as confidential and must not be disclosed except to internal personnel or counsel, or as required by law. The law also prohibits retaliation for exercising rights to the leave.


Noncompetition agreements

Two new laws are set to expand on California’s public policy prohibiting noncompete agreements.

Senate Bill 699, effective January 1, 2024, expands the Business and Professions Code’s prohibition on noncompetition agreements regardless of where or when the agreement was signed, even if it was signed outside of California. The bill also creates a private right of action for former and prospective employees against any employer that attempts to enforce a void noncompete.

Assembly Bill 1076 requires that employers notify certain employees who have contracts containing a noncompete clause that the noncompete provision is void. The written notice must be provided by February 14.


Whistleblower protections

Senate Bill 497 creates a presumption of retaliation if an employee is discharged or disciplined within 90 days of certain protected activities. These include employee activities such as:

  • Reporting wage and hour violations
  • Disclosure to a government or law enforcement agency the employee reasonably believes is information of a violation of state or federal statute, rule, or regulation
  • Reporting or attempting to enforce rights pertaining to equal pay

The presumption places the burden on the employer to rebut via some other legitimate, non-retaliatory reason for the adverse employment decision.

Workplace violence prevention plan (effective July 1)

Under Senate Bill 553, California will be the first state to require employers to develop, implement and maintain an “effective” workplace violence prevention plan, train employees, and create and maintain extensive records regarding workplace violence.

Beginning July 1, Senate Bill 553 requires virtually all employers to create a workplace violence prevention plan that is in writing and accessible to all employees. The bill specifies the content of such a plan and includes an anti-retaliation provision for employees that file workplace violence reports.

Employers must also log incidents of workplace violence, defined as “any act of violence or threat of violence that occurs in a place of employment that results in, or has a high likelihood of resulting in, injury, psychological trauma, or stress, regardless of whether the employee sustains an injury.”

The bill also requires employers to create an extensive training plan that is administered annually and retain training records for a minimum of one year. The initial training must include:

  • The employer’s plan, how to obtain a copy of the employer’s plan at no cost, and how to participate in development and implementation of the employer’s plan
  • How to report workplace violence incidents or concerns to the employer or law enforcement
  • Workplace violence hazards specific to employees’ jobs, corrective measures the employer has implemented, how to seek assistance to prevent or respond to violence, and strategies to avoid physical harm
  • The violent incident log and how to obtain copies of required records
  • An opportunity for interactive questions and answers with a person knowledgeable about the employer’s plan

Further, for a minimum of five years, employers must maintain records of workplace violence hazard identification, evaluation and correction, violent incident logs, and records of workplace violence incident investigations.


Practical impact

Employers should evaluate their current policies and practices to ensure compliance with these new laws. They should work closely with their Human Resources professionals and outside counsel to review and update their employee handbooks and policies, conduct trainings, and educate their personnel on these new laws.

Get a Free Mentor to Help Your Business

January is National Mentoring Month, and business owners across the country choose to work with SCORE mentors. They know that they could use assistance and guidance for the next steps in their businesses.

 

You might be looking for that same level of support. The start of the new year is the perfect time to kickstart your entrepreneurial journey or work towards that next business goal with a SCORE mentor.


Check out the list of experienced mentors here.


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