It is a tradition as timeless as the Times Square Ball Drop...the release of new labor laws! This year’s legislation brought forth some significant changes for employers, so CARPD Members are encouraged to stay informed and in compliance.
Minimum Wage Hikes
Consistent with recent laws that have served to phase in increases to the minimum wage, California employees will be set to receive no less than $16.00/hour starting January 1, 2024. This change is the result of a 2017 law that tied the State wage rate to the national consumer price index for urban wage earners and clerical workers (CPI-W). A number of cities and counties also have higher local minimums, so you are encouraged to confirm the rates in your specific jurisdiction.
Districts should also consider the impact this increase may have on your exempt employees. Because the state minimum wage is tied to minimum salary requirements for exempt staff, the minimum salary for exempt employees will also increase at the beginning of the New Year. The minimum salary that must be paid to a properly classified exempt employee (must meet the salary test and the duties test) must be equal to two times the current minimum wage or $66,560.
Additionally, California-based fast-food workers for chains with 60 or more locations around the nation will earn at least $20 starting in April 2024. While industry-specific, this wage increase is poised to have impacts across a number of sectors including parks and recreation. Your District will certainly need to be mindful of the market for employees as your agency looks to staff its programs and activities.
Expansion of Paid Sick Leave
In 2015, the California Legislature updated State law to ensure all employees received a minimum of 3 days or 24 hours of paid sick leave. Now, just eight years later, legislators have expanded upon that law with the passage of Senate Bill 616 which now increases paid sick leave to 5 days or 40 hours.
Starting January 1, 2024, all employees who work at least 30 days for the same employer within a year (including part-time and seasonal staff), are guaranteed at least 5 paid sick days.
For those employers with accrual policies where an employee earns sick leave over time, the policy must result in an employee having at least 24 hours of accrued leave by the 120th calendar day of employment and 40 hours by the 200th calendar day of employment.
For those employers who use an accrual cap, the cap must now increase to 10 days or 80 hours and increase the use limit to 5 days or 40 hours per 12-month period.
For more on the intricacies of this new law and its application to your agency’s policies, you are encouraged to review the Department of Industrial Relations’ website which contains an updated FAQ page: https:// www.dir.ca.gov/dlse/paid_sick_leave.htm.
Off-Duty Cannabis Use and the Impact on Drug Tests and Hiring Policies
Starting January 1st, two recent laws will go into effect that will likely impact your agency’s pre-employment hiring practices. AB 2188 makes it unlawful for an employer to discriminate against a person based upon off-duty cannabis use.
The justification for the change is that the intent of drug tests is to identify who may be impaired while at work, while most tests that use hair or urine to measure nonpsychoactive metabolites can only reasonably confirm whether cannabis has been consumed in the last few weeks. Furthermore, the legislature posited that science has improved to such an extent that employers now have access to tests that can verify the presence of THC at the time of testing.
While it is correct that such tests do exist, they cannot be said to be readily available at this time. As a result, while drug testing is still permissible, employers are cautioned against utilizing drug tests that rely on detecting past use rather than current impairment.
Similarly, SB 700 clarified AB 2188 by amending CA’s Fair and Employment Housing Act to also bar employers from requesting information about past use or relying upon information of past use in their employment decisions unless permitted to do so under California’s Fair Chance Act or other state or federal law.
The important takeaways for our agencies include: (1) employers may no longer utilize drug screening that tests for the presence of nonpsychoactive cannabis metabolites unless required by federal or state law because they indicate past use rather than current impairment; (2) employers should review applications and interview templates to remove questions about prior cannabis use; and (3) employers may consider an applicant’s prior use only if allowed by state or federal law.
By Matthew Duarte