ARTICLE
15 April 2024

Everything You Always Wanted To Know About California's Workplace Violence Prevention Plan (But Were Afraid To Ask) - Answers To 10 Frequently Asked Questions On California's New Law

M
Mintz

Contributor

Mintz is a general practice, full-service Am Law 100 law firm with more than 600 attorneys. We are headquartered in Boston and have additional US offices in Los Angeles, Miami, New York City, San Diego, San Francisco, and Washington, DC, as well as an office in Toronto, Canada.
Beginning July 1, 2024, a new California law (SB 553) will require most California employers to establish workplace violence prevention plans. We answer 10 frequently asked questions about the new law below.
United States Employment and HR
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Beginning July 1, 2024, a new California law (SB 553) will require most California employers to establish workplace violence prevention plans. We answer 10 frequently asked questions about the new law below.

1. What is a violence prevention plan?

A violence prevention plan provides a roadmap for employers and employees to address actual and potential incidents of workplace violence. The goal of a workplace violence prevention plan is to identify and mitigate against workplace violence incidents or threats. Workplace violence is any action of violence or threat (excluding lawful acts of self-defense and defense of others) that occurs at a worksite. A model workplace violence prevention plan released by California's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (the agency responsible for enforcing this new law) can be found here.

2. What does a violence prevention plan need to include?

  • Names or job titles of individuals responsible for the plan;
  • Procedures to obtain the active involvement of employees and employee representatives in developing and implementing the plan, including hazard identification and evaluation, training, and incident reporting;
  • Methods the employer will use to coordinate implementation of the plan with other employers, when applicable, to ensure that those employers and employees understand their respective roles, as provided in the plan;
  • Procedures for the employer to accept and respond to reports of workplace violence and to prohibit retaliation;
  • Procedures to ensure that supervisory and nonsupervisory employees comply with the plan;
  • Procedures to communicate with employees regarding workplace violence matters, including how employees can report violent incidents, threats, or other workplace violence concerns, how employee concerns will be investigated, and how employees will be informed of investigation results and corrective actions;
  • Procedures to respond to actual or potential workplace violence emergencies, including: how employees will be alerted, evacuation and sheltering plans, and how to obtain staff and law enforcement assistance;
  • Training procedures;
  • Procedures to identify, evaluate, and correct workplace violence hazards, including periodic inspections;
  • Procedures for post incident response and investigation; and
  • Procedures to review the effectiveness of the plan itself, including potential revisions.

3. Who does this law apply to?

This law generally applies to all employers, employees, and places of employment except for the following:

  • Health care facilities and employers already covered by California's existing requirements for the healthcare industry;
  • Certain facilities operated by the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation
  • Certain law enforcement agencies;
  • Employees teleworking from a location of the employee's choice, which is not under the control of the employer; and
  • Places of employment where there are less than 10 employees working at the place at any given time and that are not accessible to the public, if the place of employment has a compliant Injury and Illness Prevention Plan (which is a workplace safety guide that is intended to ensure that employees comply with safe and healthy work practices).

4. What do I need to do by July 1, 2024 to comply with the new law?

Unless exempted, all employers must create and implement a workplace violence prevention plan and train employees on that plan by July 1, 2024. Training on the plan must be provided thereafter annually.

5. Is there a grace period for that July 1, 2024 deadline?

No. The new law is effective on July 1, 2024.

6. What type of training is required?

As an initial matter, the training, and training materials, must be easy to understand, and match employees' education, reading skills, and language.

The training must cover various topics, including, but not limited to:

  • Familiarizing employees with the plan, how to obtain a copy of the plan, and how to participate in the development and implementation of the plan;
  • The definitions and requirements of the new law;
  • How employees can report workplace violence incidents without fear of retaliation;
  • Assisting employees in understanding job-specific violence hazards and preventive measures;
  • Discussing the purpose of the violent incident log and how to obtain related records; and
  • Providing opportunities for interactive discussions with someone knowledgeable about the employer's plan.

Furthermore, when new or previously unidentified workplace violence hazards are discovered, or changes are made to the plan, employers must provide additional training that focuses on the specific hazard or plan modifications.

7. Can I combine the workplace violence prevention plan training with other required training, such as sexual harassment training?

No. The workplace violence prevention plan training has distinct requirements and should be given independently from other required trainings.

8. Does this law apply to employees and places of employment outside of California?

No. The new law only applies to California employees and California worksites.

9. I already have an existing injury and illness prevention program. Can this violence prevention plan be added to that?

Yes, the new law permits the workplace violence prevention plan to be incorporated as a stand-alone section in an existing injury and illness prevention program or maintained as a separate document.

10. I have multiple worksites in California. Do I need a separate plan for each worksite?

Depending on the nature of the different worksites, an individually tailored plan may be required. However, if multiple worksites share the same risks and hazards, the plans for such worksites can likely be similar. For instance, if an employer has a warehouse where it stores its merchandise that is not open to the public, and also has multiple retail stores that are open to the public, the plans between the worksites may have some similar elements, but ultimately, given the different risks and hazards each worksite poses, the plans will likely require a higher level of customization for each worksite.

Mintz's Employment Practice will continue to monitor any future key developments and remains ready to assist California employers preparing to comply with this new law.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

ARTICLE
15 April 2024

Everything You Always Wanted To Know About California's Workplace Violence Prevention Plan (But Were Afraid To Ask) - Answers To 10 Frequently Asked Questions On California's New Law

United States Employment and HR

Contributor

Mintz is a general practice, full-service Am Law 100 law firm with more than 600 attorneys. We are headquartered in Boston and have additional US offices in Los Angeles, Miami, New York City, San Diego, San Francisco, and Washington, DC, as well as an office in Toronto, Canada.
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