New California Employment Laws Protecting Workers in 2024
| Read Time: 3 minutes | Category Name

The California legislature has been a trailblazer in the ongoing fight for workers’ rights, enacting new California employment laws that serve as models for other state legislatures. 2024 brings new California employment laws to this landscape, including the nation’s largest paid sick leave entitlement, a groundbreaking law creating a new right to reproductive loss leave, and increased minimum wages to offset increased living and housing costs. As the Golden State continually evolves, so do the regulations and protections in place to ensure fair and equitable treatment within the workplace.

Expanded Paid Sick Leave in California

One of the most significant changes for California employees in 2024 is the expansion of paid sick leave benefits. Senate Bill 616 increases the requirement for employers to provide at least five paid sick days annually to employees, up from the current requirement of three days.

Additionally, employers who opt for the accrual method must increase the annual cap to at least 80 hours or 10 days.

As under existing law, it is illegal for an employer to retaliate against an employee for exercising their right to use paid sick leave. Employees who are subject to no-fault attendance, or “points,” policies will continue to have the right to purge sick-leave related attendance points from their record. Learn more about points-based attendance penalties here.

Minimum Wage Increases Statewide and in Numerous Municipalities

California’s minimum wage will increase from $15.50 per hour to $16 per hour for all employers, regardless of company size, on January 1, 2024.

This is a general minimum wage update. Workers in specific cities will be entitled to additional minimum wage increases, as will workers in specific industries.

MunicipalityEffective DateMinimum Wage for Large Employers (25+ Employees)Minimum Wage for Smaller Employers
Daly City1/1/2024$16.62Same
East Palo Alto1/1/2024$17.00Same
El Cerrito1/1/2024$17.92Same
Foster City1/1/2024$17.00Same
Half Moon Bay1/1/2024$17.01Same
Los Altos1/1/2024$17.75Same
Los Angeles7/1/2023$16.78Same
Los Angeles County (unincorporated)7/1/2023$16.90Same
Menlo Park1/1/2024$16.70Same
Mountain View1/1/2024$18.75Same
Novato1/1/2024$16.60 for Large Employers (25+) $16.86 for Very Large Employers (100+)$16.04
Palo Alto1/1/2024$17.80Same
Redwood City1/1/2024$17.70Same
San Carlos1/1/2024$16.87Same
San Diego1/1/2024$16.85Same
San Francisco7/1/2023$18.07Same
San Jose1/1/2024$17.55Same
San Mateo1/1/2024$17.35Same
San Mateo County (unincorporated)1/1/2024$17.06Same
Santa Clara1/1/2024$17.75Same
Santa Monica7/1/2023$16.90Same
Santa Rosa1/1/2024$17.45Same
South San Francisco1/1/2024$17.25Same
West Hollywood7/1/2023$19.08Same

Additionally, the state will set separate minimum wage requirements for employees in the healthcare industry, with a minimum wage of $20 per hour. A new minimum wage of $20 per hour will also take effect for workers in the fast-food industry beginning on April 1, 2024.

Off-Duty Recreational Cannabis Use

For years, employers have been able to discriminate against employees for legal, off-duty cannabis use. Beginning in 2024, workers finally have protections for engaging in legal off-duty cannabis use.

Employers are now prohibited from discriminating in hiring, termination, or the terms and conditions of employment based on off-duty cannabis use or drug screenings detecting non-psychoactive cannabis. Notably employees working in building and construction are not protected from discrimination due to lobbying from industry groups based on safety concerns.

Reproductive Loss Leave

Another new California employment law that takes effect in 2024 is the requirement for employers to provide leave for reproductive loss. This law allows employees to take up to three days of paid leave in the event of a miscarriage, stillbirth, or other reproductive loss. This law is the first of its kind in the nation.

Learn more about your rights if you’ve suffered a miscarriage here.

Further Restrictions on Non-Competes and Remedies for Harmed Employees

Section 16600 of the California Business & Professions Code prohibits any restraints on an employee’s ability to practice a lawful profession, trade, or business, except when the non-compete is integral to a business sale, partnership dissolution, or LLC dissolution. In 2023, Governor Newsom signed SB 699, which prohibits employers from attempting to enforce an illegal non-compete against their employees.

SB 699 provides employees who are threatened with enforcement of illegal non-competes with the option to sue on their own behalf, seeking injunctive relief, actual damages, as well as reimbursement for attorney fees and associated costs.

Additional Training Required to Prevent Workplace Violence

Beginning July 1, 2024, employers in California are required to implement an “effective” workplace violence prevention plan. Employers are also required to provide training to employees and keep records of their efforts to prevent workplace violence.

California Employment Attorneys You Can Trust

King & Siegel LLP is committed to enforcing new California employment laws in 2024 and beyond. If you believe you have been subjected to unlawful employment practices, we can help you stand up to your employer. Our attorneys are award-winning lawyers who have graduated from top law schools and trained in prestigious judicial clerkships. We have used this training to recover nearly $75 million on behalf of California workers in just six years.

If you believe you have been wronged, contact us today for a free case review.

Author Photo

Julian Burns King graduated with honors from Harvard Law School and founded King & Siegel in 2018. As head of the Firm’s discrimination and harassment practice areas, she champions the rights of working parents and victims of workplace discrimination and harassment. She has been recognized as a “Rising Star” by Super Lawyers annually since 2018 and has recovered tens of millions of dollars on behalf of her clients.

Read More Articles by Julian Burns King