Employment Law Bulletin | November 7, 2023

Workplace Violence Prevention Plans Required by July 1, 2024
(Senate Bill 553)

California employers are required to establish, implement and maintain an effective workplace violence prevention plan by July 1, 2024.  The plan may be added to the employer’s existing Injury and Illness Prevention Plan or maintained as a separate document.

Covered Employers
All California employers are covered by the new law with the following exceptions:

  • healthcare facilities already covered by California’s existing workplace violence prevention standard for healthcare;
  • employees teleworking from a location of their own choice that is not under the employer’s control;
  • places of employment where there are fewer than 10 employees working at the place at any given time and that are not accessible to the public;
  • facilities operated by the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation; and
  • certain law enforcement agencies.

Plan Requirements
Workplace violence prevention plans must be written, available and easily accessible to all employees and must include the following requirements listed in new Labor Code section 6401.9:

  • the names or job titles of the persons responsible for implementing the plan;
  • effective procedures to obtain the active involvement of employees in developing and implementing the plan, including, but not limited to, through their participation in identifying, evaluating, and correcting workplace violence hazards, in designing and implementing training, and in reporting and investigating workplace violence incidents;
  • methods the employer will use to coordinate implementation of the plan with other employers, when applicable;
  • effective procedures for the employer to accept and respond to reports of workplace violence, and to prohibit retaliation against an employee who makes such a report;
  • effective procedures to ensure that supervisory and nonsupervisory employees comply with the plan;
  • effective procedures to communicate with employees regarding workplace violence matters, including, how to report a violent incident or threat, how employee concerns will be investigated and how employees will be informed of the results and any corrective actions taken;
  • effective procedures to respond to actual or potential workplace violence emergencies, including, effective means to alert employees of workplace violence emergencies, evacuation or sheltering plans that are appropriate and feasible for the worksite, and how to obtain help from staff assigned to respond to workplace violence emergencies and law enforcement;
  • procedures to develop and provide effective workplace violence prevention training;
  • procedures to identify, evaluate and correct workplace violence hazards; and
  • procedures for post-incident response and investigation.

Training Requirements
Employers must provide employee training about the workplace violence prevention plan when the plan is first established, annually thereafter, and when a new workplace violence hazard is identified.

Recordkeeping Requirements
Employers are required to create and maintain the following records for a minimum of five years and produce them to Cal/OSHA upon request:

  • records of workplace violence hazard identification, evaluation and correction;
  • a violent incident log for every workplace violence incident;
  • records of workplace violence incident investigations; and
  • training records.

Changes to Workplace Violence Restraining Order Laws Take Effect January 1, 2025

A workplace violence restraining order (WVRO) is a court order obtained by an employer to protect an employee who has suffered unlawful violence or a threat of unlawful violence that can reasonably be construed to be carried out in the workplace.  The following new changes to the WVRO laws take effect on January 1, 2025.

  • Employers, in addition to the affected employee, may seek a WVRO if an employee has suffered workplace harassment.  “Harassment” is defined as “a knowing and willful course of conduct directed at a specific person that seriously alarms, annoys, or harasses the person, and that serves no legitimate purpose.  The course of conduct must be that which would cause a reasonable person to suffer substantial emotional distress, and must actually cause substantial emotional distress.”
  • Collective bargaining representatives, in addition to the employer, may seek a WVRO on behalf of the employee provided the representative serves as the “collective bargaining representative for that employee in employment or labor matters at the employee’s workplace.”
  • Before filing a petition for WVRO, the person seeking the WVRO must provide the employee who has suffered harassment, unlawful violence, or a credible threat of unlawful violence with the opportunity to decline to be named in the WVRO.  If the employee requests not to be named in the WVRO, the employer or collective bargaining representative may seek the WVRO on behalf of other employees at the workplace.

Lisa Ann Hilario

¿No hablas español?

SMT employment attorneys can provide your company with employment policies, forms and employee disciplinary documentation in Spanish. Providing such important information to employees in the language they understand is critical to employee performance, providing a welcoming diverse work environment, and protecting your company against employment claims. Contact an SMT attorney today to get started.

Spaulding McCullough & Tansil LLP
Employment Law Group

Lisa Ann Hilario | Kari Brown

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