California Employment Laws Update for 2024

Starting from January 1, 2024, several changes in employment laws will take effect in California, impacting both employers and employees. To prepare for these changes, the Ridgecrest Chamber of Commerce is collaborating with Meith Operational Solutions to offer a six-part series of educational classes starting on January 17.

Amy Alden, SPHR SHRM-SCP, the owner and president of Meith Operational Solutions, provided a preview of some of these changes as the guest speaker at the November Chamber luncheon. Meith Operational Solutions assists local business owners with human resource services, focusing on employment law in California and Colorado.

Alden emphasized the evolving role of HR professionals, stating, “Most people think of HR as hiring, firing, and record-keeping, but it is so much more than that.” Over the last 30 years, HR has shifted its focus and responsibilities, especially since 2020, addressing issues arising from the pandemic and ensuring compliance and ethical behavior.

Alden discussed the importance of two firms that help employers establish and implement HR policies. She highlighted the necessity for employers to recertify every three years to stay updated with evolving education.

California residents can expect several changes in the New Year. Starting January 1, 2024, the minimum wage will increase from $15.50 to $16 per hour for all employers. Additionally, the minimum wage for full-time, exempt salary employees will rise to $66,560 per year. Sick leave laws will also change, increasing to five days or 40 hours.

New legislation will require employers to grant up to five days of unpaid leave for employees experiencing reproductive loss, covering miscarriages, failed adoptions, and surrogacy. From July 1, employers will need to adopt a workplace violence prevention plan, outlining 13 required topics.

Effective January 1, a law prohibiting employers from discriminating against employees based on off-the-job and away-from-the-workplace cannabis use will go into effect. Employers can still conduct drug screening but may not inquire about past cannabis use.

In 2024, a fast food council will be established to determine minimum wages, working hours, and conditions for specific types of fast food businesses. Employees filing complaints against employers will receive protection from retaliation for 90 days.

Healthcare professionals working in designated facilities will see increases in minimum wage under a new law, but the details are complex and require careful review.

Additional laws will protect grocery store employees during changes in ownership, affecting hiring, firing, and retention practices.

Alden advised employers to reassess their employee manuals to ensure compliance with updated laws.

The “HR Advantage: Tools for Thriving Organizations” will feature 90-minute classes on various topics, starting on January 17. Classes will be held in person at the Ridgecrest Chamber office, and registration is available at, with a discount offered for those signing up for all six classes. For more information, contact the Ridgecrest Chamber of Commerce at 760-375-8331.


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