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New Employment Laws for a New Year

The Guha Law Firm Feb. 27, 2024

As we bring in the new year, staying on top of the changes and updates in employment laws allows employees to stay one step ahead of the employer, helping to protect their rights when involved in any employment law issues or discrimination.

At The Guha Law Firm, we can guide you through some key legislative changes that have been introduced in California and provide strong legal representation when you're faced with employee discrimination, harassment, retaliation, wage disputes, and more.  

SB 497: Presumption of Employer Retaliation in the California Labor Code 

This new law tweaks some parts of the California Labor Code to boost protections for employees who participate in certain protected activities. But what does that mean, exactly?

The law creates what's called a "rebuttable presumption of retaliation." Basically, if an employer punishes or takes adverse action against an employee within 90 days of the employee participating in any protected activity (like whistleblowing or filing a complaint), it gives the employee a head start when making legal claims of retaliation.

When faced with this issue, it's important to seek legal guidance because this assumption can be challenged by the employer. 

AB 2188 and SB 700: Limits on Cannabis Use in Employment Decisions 

In the recent past, some employers would not hire people or even fire them because they used cannabis outside of work. Well, these new laws set a few boundaries on the subject. They say that employers can't discriminate against you because you legally use cannabis when you're off the clock.

Also, SB 700 takes it a step further. It says employers can't ask you about your past cannabis use during the hiring process or use this information against you.

Therefore, if you're applying for jobs, you shouldn't be asked about your past cannabis use. Furthermore, if you're already employed, you shouldn't be fired or treated differently for using cannabis outside work, unless it is a drug-free workplace. Note that employers do have the right to give a pre-employment drug test and make a decision about hiring if the company is a drug-free workplace. 

2 CCR § 11017.1 (2023): Consideration of Criminal History in Employment Decisions 

The basics of this law sets guidelines for employers in the hiring process. The employer cannot ask or search for information regarding the applicant's criminal history unless the employer is a federal or state agency, a criminal justice agency, a farm labor contractor, or the employer's agent requires such information under state, federal, or local law.  

SB 616: Increase to Minimum Paid Sick Leave Requirements 

This law increases the minimum paid sick leave requirements for employees in California. Employees are now entitled to a minimum of 5 days or 40 hours of paid sick leave per year. This increase ensures that employees have adequate time to address their own health needs or care for a family member without fear of losing wages.

The minimum paid sick leave days may be different based on the number of hours you work a week. Speak with an experienced attorney who can assess your specific situation for further information.  

SB 848: New Reproductive Loss Leave (Pursuant to Existing Applicable Leave Policies) 

SB 848 introduces a new provision for reproductive loss leave. This law allows employees to take time off work (if they have worked for more than 30 days) for reasons related to pregnancy loss, stillbirth, or the loss of a child shortly after birth.

Leave can be taken pursuant to existing applicable leave policies, such as the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) or the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). 

AB 636: Wage Theft Prevention Notice Additions 

Regarding the previous Wage Theft Prevention Notice, the law adds additional requirements to the Wage Theft Prevention Notice (a list of documents giving information about how you will be paid). 

Specifically, they must tell you about big announcements (what the law calls "emergency declarations") made by the state or federal government. These are important because they might affect your health and safety at work. 

SB 525: Minimum Wage Increases for Healthcare Workers 

As of January 1st, 2024, California's minimum wage has gone from $15.50 per hour to $16. The law sets different wage rates and compliance dates depending on the nature of the employer.

The minimum wage for all healthcare employees will ultimately increase to $25 per hour; the first incremental increase is set for June 1, 2024.

Trusted Legal Guidance 

At The Guha Law Firm, we're dedicated to making complex legal matters easier for everyone to understand. We know that laws, especially those related to labor and employment, can often be confusing and overwhelming. That's why we're here to break down these laws in simple terms and guide you through them.

From wage disputes to new labor laws, we're committed to ensuring you're well-informed and protected. We're based in Orange, California, and we serve clients throughout San Bernardino, Los Angeles, and Riverside counties. Our approach is personalized and compassionate, and we fiercely represent employees who have been denied fair wages by their employers.