What Are California Employment Laws 2024?

By hrlineup | 08.04.2024

California has long been a trailblazer when it comes to employment laws in the United States. With its large and diverse population, the state has consistently enacted progressive legislation aimed at protecting workers’ rights, promoting workplace equality, and ensuring fair treatment for all employees. As of 2024, California’s employment laws continue to evolve, reflecting the changing needs of its workforce and the broader societal landscape. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the key aspects of California employment laws in 2024, covering topics ranging from wage and hour regulations to discrimination and harassment protections.

1. Wage and Hour Laws

One of the fundamental aspects of California employment law pertains to wages and hours. The state has some of the most stringent regulations in the country aimed at ensuring fair compensation for workers and preventing exploitation. As of 2024, the minimum wage in California is $15 per hour for employers with 26 or more employees, and $14 per hour for employers with 25 or fewer employees. This minimum wage applies to most industries, although there are some exceptions, such as certain agricultural workers and employees who receive qualifying health benefits.

In addition to minimum wage requirements, California law mandates overtime pay for non-exempt employees who work more than eight hours in a workday or 40 hours in a workweek. Overtime pay is typically set at one and a half times the regular rate of pay. For hours worked beyond 12 in a workday or eight on the seventh consecutive day of work in a workweek, employees are entitled to double their regular rate of pay.

Employers are also required to provide meal and rest breaks to employees based on the number of hours worked. For every five hours worked, employees are entitled to a 30-minute meal break, and for every four hours worked, they are entitled to a 10-minute rest break. Failure to provide these breaks can result in penalties for employers.

2. Discrimination and Harassment Protections

California law provides extensive protections against discrimination and harassment in the workplace. These protections cover various characteristics, including race, gender, age, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, and religion, among others. Employers are prohibited from discriminating against employees or job applicants based on these protected characteristics in hiring, firing, promotion, compensation, and other terms and conditions of employment.

Furthermore, California law requires employers to take proactive measures to prevent and address harassment in the workplace. This includes providing training to employees and supervisors on preventing harassment and maintaining policies and procedures for reporting and investigating complaints. Employers can be held liable for harassment perpetrated by supervisors, coworkers, or third parties if they fail to take appropriate action to address it.

3. Family and Medical Leave

California provides several types of leave protections to employees to address family and medical needs. The California Family Rights Act (CFRA) provides eligible employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave in a 12-month period for qualifying reasons, including the birth or adoption of a child, to care for a seriously ill family member, or to address the employee’s own serious health condition.

Additionally, the California Paid Family Leave (PFL) program allows employees to receive partial wage replacement benefits while on leave to bond with a new child or care for a seriously ill family member. As of 2024, eligible employees can receive up to eight weeks of PFL benefits within a 12-month period.

4. Workplace Safety and Health

California has robust workplace safety and health regulations aimed at protecting employees from hazards and ensuring their well-being on the job. The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) enforces these regulations and conducts inspections to ensure compliance.

Employers are required to provide a safe and healthy work environment for their employees and must comply with specific standards related to topics such as hazardous materials, personal protective equipment, and workplace ergonomics. Employees have the right to report unsafe conditions to Cal/OSHA without fear of retaliation, and employers are prohibited from discriminating against employees for exercising their rights under workplace safety laws.

5. Privacy Right

California is a pioneer in data privacy legislation, and as of 2024, the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) remains a significant factor in employment law. While the CCPA primarily governs consumer data privacy, it also imposes obligations on employers regarding the collection, use, and protection of employee data.

Under the CCPA, employees have the right to know what personal information their employers collect about them and how it is used. Employers must also implement reasonable security measures to safeguard employee data from unauthorized access, disclosure, or use. Employees have the right to access and request deletion of their personal information, subject to certain exceptions.

6. Worker Classification

Worker classification has been a contentious issue in California in recent years, particularly concerning the classification of workers as independent contractors versus employees. In 2020, California passed Assembly Bill 5 (AB 5), which established stricter criteria for classifying workers as independent contractors and expanded protections for workers misclassified as such.

AB 5 codified the “ABC test” for determining worker classification, which presumes workers to be employees unless the employer can demonstrate that the worker meets all three prongs of the test: (A) the worker is free from the control and direction of the hiring entity in connection with the performance of the work, (B) the worker performs work that is outside the usual course of the hiring entity’s business, and (C) the worker is customarily engaged in an independently established trade, occupation, or business of the same nature as the work performed.


California’s employment laws are among the most comprehensive and progressive in the United States, reflecting the state’s commitment to protecting workers’ rights and promoting fair treatment in the workplace. As of 2024, these laws continue to evolve to address emerging challenges and adapt to the changing needs of California’s diverse workforce. Employers operating in the state must stay informed of these laws and ensure compliance to avoid costly penalties and legal liabilities. By prioritizing adherence to California’s employment laws, employers can foster a workplace environment that is equitable, safe, and conducive to the well-being of all employees.