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New California Labor Requirements In Effect July 1st: What This Means for Employees

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Attorney Mo Eldessouky

2023 was a busy year for California labor law reform. A half-dozen new laws and standards protecting workers were put into place effective at the beginning of this year. However, yet another labor law deadline is right around the corner on July 1st. Unique from the others, the new California Workplace Safety law is changing the way employers approach workplace safety and injury prevention are handled by employers, including new rights for employees.

If you are a California professional in any industry, you are protected by these new workplace safety standards as of July 1, 2024.

SB 553: Mandatory Workplace Prevention Plans for Violence, Injury, and Illness

According to the new Senate Bill 553, as of July 1st, all employers will be required to devise, implement, and provide employee training for two prevention plan programs: The Workplace Violence Prevention Plan (WVPP) and the Injury and Illness Prevention Plan (IIPP).

These plans are designed to not only ensure that employers have bothered to plan for employee safety from violence, injury, and illness, but also secure employee knowledge and training regarding these plans.

Through these plans, employees will have a right to know how employers handle violence, injury, and illness. You have the right to implement these plans under the right circumstances and the right to hold employers accountable if they fail to implement these plans, resulting in violence, injury, or illness.

If your employer fails to devise, train, and implement these new workplace safety plans in accordance with SB 553, the legal team of Eldessouky Law is here to defend your right to a safely maintained workplace.

Workplace Violence Prevention Plan (WVPP) Requirements

According to the new California labor law, Workplace Violence Prevention Plans must meet several exacting criteria to be considered sufficient and lawfully implemented. This includes a clear definition of the risks, prevention steps, and who is responsible for developing and implementing the plan.

Employers are required to engage in three vital steps. First, they must design the violence prevention plan including routes for reporting, dealing with violence in the moment, and remediation actions for violence risk. Next, they must assign responsibility and a plan for implementation. Finally, they are required to provide company-wide employee training in how to report and safely respond to workplace violence. All requirements must be fully documented in writing.

The requirements for a compliant WVPP are as follows:

  • The Plan
    • Effective procedures to report and respond to reports of workplace violence
    • Effective procedures to respond to actual workplace violence emergencies
    • Effective procedures to respond to the threat of workplace violence
    • Procedures to identify, evaluate, and correct workplace violence hazards
  • Responsibility
    • The names or job titles of people responsible for implementing the plan
    • The steps taken to ensure the plan is developed and implemented by employees and authorized employee representatives
  • Implementation
    • Methods the employer will use to coordinate the plan’s implementation
    • Procedures to ensure involvement of employees and authorized employee representatives in development and implementation of the plan
    • Procedures to ensure compliance with the plan
    • Procedures to review and improve the effectiveness of the plan
  • Training
    • Procedures to develop and provide training
    • Effective communication with employees on how to report violence or threats and how incidents will be investigated

Workplace Violence Incident Logs

Employers must also maintain workplace violence incident logs. Any incident of reported or threatened workplace violence must be recorded.

No injury or even physical contact is required for a log entry to become mandatory. Threats of violence are also considered a workplace violence incident, and assault can occur without causing medical damage.

These log entries must be maintained for a minimum of 5 years. Records of any workplace violence incidents must be maintained for at least 5 years, as well. Workplace violence training records must be maintained for at least one year.

The logs must contain specific details regarding the incident. This includes:

  • Date and time
  • Location
  • Type of workplace violence
  • A detailed description of the incident and how it ocurred
  • Who committed the violence
  • Relevant circumstantial details
  • The log-writer’s personal details

At any time, a person can request a copy of these logs at no cost, and the copy must be delivered within 15 days.

Injury and Illness Prevention Plan (IIPP) Requirements

In addition to the WVPP implementation, employers must apply a similar process to implement the injury and illness prevention plan. This involves more perception of existing hazards and control over the work process and environment compared to planning a response to violence emergencies.

These requirements must be met in writing, with a fully documented plan, implementation process, and employee training program. Compliance records must be kept and found adequate to address relevant workplace health and safety concerns upon inspection.

  • The Plan
    • Identify and evaluate workplace hazards
    • Schedule periodic inspections
    • Methods to correct unsafe and unhealthy conditions and work practices
  • Responsibility
    • Identify persons responsible for designing and implementing the program
  • Implementation
    • Devise a system to communicate with employees on health and safety matters
    • Effective procedures to ensure employee compliance in health and safety protocol
    •  
  • Training
    • Provide a training program instructing employees on general safe and healthy work practices
    • Give relevant safety instructions specific to each employee’s role and working environment

Your Rights Under the New California Workplace Safety Plan Laws

Starting July 1, 2024, California workers gain a new set of employee rights. Like other laws designed to protect workers, you have the right to be protected and the right to certain transparency regarding the protection offered by your company’s WVPP and IIPP.

The Right to Protection Under Workplace Safety Plans

First, you have the right to protection under your company’s workplace violence, injury, and illness protection plans. No job, assignment, or work location is excluded. No individual or group can be excluded, intentionally or through negligence.

If safety standards implemented for others are somehow not being provided for you, take action for your own protection.

Employees working from “a location of their choosing” (remote work) are not protected by workplace safety plans, but may be protected by assignment and procedure safety policies.

The Right to Safety Training

You have the right to safety training, both general occupational safety training and training specific to your work environment and assigned tasks. Under the WVPP and IIPP, every employee must receive training based on the plan’s assessment of danger and implementation procedures.

The Right to Report Violence and Hazards

You have the right to file a report of workplace violence or threats of violence. Those reports must then be properly investigated according to the plan and any incidents must be recorded in the 5-year violence incident log.

In addition, you have the right to report concerns about workplace injury or illness hazards, and for that report to be investigated. This applies to both your work environment and the procedures expected in work tasks.

The Right to Request Workplace Violence Logs

You have the right to request access to the violence incident logs and to receive a copy, free of charge, within 15 days.

The Right to Report Your Employer for Violations

If your employer fails to provide these rights, including failure to devise proper plans, failure to assign responsibility roles, failure to include all workplace environments and procedures in their plans, or failure to implement plans preventing or responding to hazards, you can take action.

You have the right to report your employer for non-compliance and, if harm is caused, to sue your employer for malicious or negligent conduct.

What to Look For After July 1, 2024

SB 553 lays a weighty responsibility upon  your employer to design and implement these new workplace hazard prevention plans. Naturally, every employer will approach the task a little differently, but there are a few common factors that employees should be watching for this summer.

Plan Building Teams

If you are in a position of leadership or are already part of safety planning and prevention at work, there is a higher chance that you will be called upon to be part of the WVPP and IIPP planning team. If so, this is your opportunity to ensure the safety of all members of your company with thorough and thoughtful planning.

If  you are not on the team, keep an eye out for announcements about who is among the named responsible planning and implementation team members.

New Safety Training Programs

This summer, we should see a wave of new safety training programs in accordance with the law’s requirement that all employees receive training that aligns with the plans. This training should include

  • Basic workplace safety training
  • Company/industry specific safety training
  • Job-specific safety training
  • Information on how to report hazards or incidents

Reporting Routes Made Available

Very importantly, new routes for reporting potential hazards such as injury and illness risk or threats of violence should be opened.

Also, a violence incident log must be created and added to starting with the first incident or threat of workplace violence.

A Year of Labor Law Reforms

2024 has been a banner year for new labor laws that protect the rights and wellbeing of workers. The WVPP and IIPP law stands out because it takes effect in July rather than January. Those that already became active on January 1, 2024 include: 

  • Paid Sick Leave: Mandatory PSL increased from 3 to 5 days per year or 40 hours total, plus rollover
  • Reproductive Loss Leave: Miscarriage, failed adoption, failed surrogacy, and stillbirth events granted 5 days leave
  • Presumption of Retaliation: If an employer takes adverse action against an employee within 90 days of a protected action, retaliation is assumed.
  • Cannabis Discrimination Protection: Employers may no longer discriminate against employees for prior use of cannabis
  • Notice Requirements: Employers must provide new hires information about federal and California labor protections

Protect Your Rights to Workplace Safety with Eldessouky Law

Under Senate Bill 553, your employer is expected to implement new safety plans, and you have the right to be protected by them. This includes safety training, reporting routes, and sufficient response planning in the face of emergencies and emerging or reported hazards.The California employment attorneys of Eldessouky Law will stand with you to defend your safety and the safety of your coworkers. Contact us today with questions or concerns about your employer’s fulfillment of their duties under the new workplace safety plan laws.

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