Happy New Year – Now What?


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Well, Happy New Year everybody!  I hope your holiday season was restful, fun filled, and included great food!  And now we’re on to the new year, and in fact, almost halfway through January.

So, as we are all diving in – it’s a good idea to do a quick review of the things that should be on your radar to start the new year off right, and make sure you don’t miss any important deadlines.

First up – the California state minimum wage has gone up.  Yep, effective January 1st it’s $16 an hour.  Now that actually has a bit of a double impact.  On the one hand, you’ll have to review the salary rate for your non-exempt employees to make sure they are at or above the minimum wage.  Oh, and the pro tip on this one is that you should also check your local ordinances.  Some cities and counties have their own minimum wage rates.

The other side of the minimum wage game is since this is an increase at the state level, you also have to be sure your exempt employees are above twice that.  So, since the minimum is now $16 per hour, if you multiply that times 2, and then again times 40, you get a weekly rate of $1,280.  So make sure your exempt level employees are at least clearing that weekly amount.

Next up is the new sick leave expansion.  The amount of sick leave you have to make available to your team members has gone up to 40 hours, or 5 days – it used to be 24 hours.  You can still use the accrual method or just frontload all the hours – but the accrual and usage caps have increased as well.  So be sure to check the new guidelines, and update your sick leave policies accordingly.

Oh, and don’t worry – yes, I will absolutely put links in the show notes that will give you more details and specifics.  So, be sure to check them out.

Effective January 1st of this year, all non-compete agreements are null and void”

With the update to sick time, comes a new and improved Wage Theft Notice.  The new one was just released so be sure you start using it right away.  It not only references the new sick time, but it also address another new requirement.

Employers are now required to provide information regarding the existence of any federal or state emergency or disaster declarations that apply to the county or counties where the person will be employed.  And yes, that means you have to make sure you are aware if there is a declaration, when it happens, where it’s for, and when it clears.

Now, there are other guidelines like you’re only looking at declarations that are up to 30 days prior to the start of employment, and if or when there is a change, you also have to notify employees within 7 days of any update.

Another new item is non-compete agreements.  For a long time they have mostly been a no-no in California, but now the rules have become even more specific.  Effective January 1st of this year, all non-compete agreements are null and void.  It doesn’t matter when or where the person signed it, California has declared them voided.

And in addition, if you have anyone who was hired on or after January 1, 2022, and signed a non compete agreement, or has non compete language in their offer or your policy – well then you are required to send them a written notice that the non compete language is voided.  And you have to do that no later than valentines day – that’s Feb 14, 2024.  So be sure to start putting that list together, and prepping for that distribution – valentines day will be here before you know it.

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And while this next one isn’t effective until July 1st, it’s best that you get a leg up on it now.  Effective that date, employers are required to have a written Violence Prevention Plan in place.  Again, there is more information in the show notes – but this is kind of a big one, so be sure to get on it as soon as possible.

And then, there are the usual suspects to keep top of mind.

W-2 tax forms have to be distributed no later than January 31st.  But a little remembered addition is that, the state’s Earned Income Tax Credit notice has to be distributed either with the W-2 or within one week on either side (either before or after).  And by the way, there’s a federal one too – so even if you aren’t in California, double check with your state and the feds.

And on the payroll/benefits side – most of us just went through a year end benefits open enrollment.  So, it’s a good idea to double check the payroll deduction amounts, just to be sure they are up to date.  Also, if you offer a retirement account, make sure your payroll contribution limits are updated for the year – you don’t want to accidentally have people over contributing.

OK – I think that’s enough of a ‘to do’ list for the moment – after all, I still have a bit of holiday brain.  How about you?

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