No later than July 1, 2024, covered California employers must implement extensive workplace violence prevention plans (WVPP) and deliver specified training to employees under new legislation signed by Governor Gavin Newsom on September 30, 2023.  In order to comply on time – including preparing plans that are “specific to the hazards and corrective measures for each work area” as required – employers will need to prepare early.

Senate Bill 533 adds section 6401.9 to the California Labor Code.  The legislation is intended to help employers prevent and respond effectively to workplace violence.  The legislature passed, and the Governor signed, the bill despite a full court press by the California Chamber of Commerce in opposition.

Workplace Violence Prevention Plans – The new law requires that plans be in writing and include, for example, the following:

  • “Effective procedures to obtain the active involvement of employees and union representatives” in developing and implementing the plan, identifying and correcting “workplace violence hazards,” and designing and implementing employee training;
  • The names and job titles of all persons responsible for implementing the plan;
  • Procedures to identify and correct workplace violence hazards in a timely manner;
  • “Effective procedures to respond to actual or potential workplace violence emergencies”;
  • “Effective procedures to communicate with employees regarding workplace violence matters” and to alert employees of workplace violence emergencies, including of the “presence, location, and nature” of such emergencies;
  • Procedures for post-incident response and investigation; and
  • Periodic review of the plan and updates and corrections as needed.

Covered employers also must maintain written logs of workplace violence incidents that set forth a great deal of specified information.

Employer plans must “be in effect at all times and in all work areas”.  Employers must ensure their plans are “available and easily accessible” to employees, union representatives, and agents from the California Occupational Health and Safety Administration (Cal/OSHA).

Newly Required Training of Employees – The employee training required under the new law must cover particular subjects, allow for “interactive questions and answers,” and be in “vocabulary [appropriate] to the educational level, literacy, and language of [the] employees.”  Covered employers must deliver the training to all employees no later than July 1, 2024, and annually thereafter.

Cal/OSHA Enforcement – Cal/OSHA is charged with enforcing the new requirements.  Cal/OSHA will have authority to issue notices to correct and civil penalties. 

Employers Not Subject to the New Requirements – “All employers, employees, places of employment, and employer-provided housing” are subject to the new requirements, other than those that meet one of a few exemptions in section 6401.9.  Exempt employers are the following: (1) places of employment where no more than nine employees are present at any one time and that are not accessible to the public; (2) employees working remotely from a place of their choosing and that their employer does not control; (3) certain health care facilities; and (4) certain law enforcement and correctional facilities.

SB 553 requires that by December 1, 2025, Cal/OSHA propose further standards for WVPPs for adoption by the Cal/OSHA Standards Board by December 31, 2026.

If you have questions or we may assist with this or other employment law challenges, please contact your Fox Rothschild LLP attorney or the authors of this post.

This post provides general information and does not constitute legal advice to any person with respect to any circumstance.  This post does not create an attorney-client relationship with any person.