By: Jake Grogin
Senate Bill 533 is a new law requiring certain workplaces to have written violence prevention plans and employee training programs, which Governor Gavin Newsome signed into law on September 30, 2023. SB 533 makes additions and updates to section 527.8 of the California Code of Civil Procedure, sections 6401.7 and 6401.9 of the California Labor Code.
The only workplaces that are not covered by the law are:
- “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;”
- “Employees teleworking from a location of the employee’s choice, which is not under the control of the employer;”
- Certain Healthcare facilities; and
- Certain law enforcement and correctional facilities.
Thus, any workspace accessible to the public, such as a retail store, or a workspace not accessible to the public with 10 or more employees, such as a traditional office setting, is covered by the law.
The law has two major requirements: a written violence prevention plan and employee training programs.
The workplace violence prevention plan, which may be incorporated into a company’s injury and illness prevention plan, must be in writing and include, among other things:
- “Names or job titles of the persons responsible for implementing the plan;”
- “Effective procedures to obtain the active involvement of employees and authorized employee representatives 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, to ensure that those employers and employees understand their respective roles, as provided in the plan;”
- “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 communicate with employees regarding workplace violence matters;”
- “Effective procedures to respond to actual or potential workplace violence emergencies;”
- “Procedures for postincident response and investigation;” and
- “Procedures to review the effectiveness of the plan and revise the plan as needed.”
The initial employee training required under the new law must be provided when the plan is
first established, no later than July 1, 2024, and annually thereafter. The training must include, among other things:
- “The employer’s plan;”
- “How to report workplace violence incidents or concerns to the employer or law enforcement without fear of reprisal;”
- “Workplace violence hazards specific to the employees’ jobs, the corrective measures the employer has implemented, how to seek assistance to prevent or respond to violence, and strategies to avoid physical harm;”
- “The violent incident log” required by the law; and
- “An opportunity for interactive questions and answers with a person knowledgeable about the employer’s plan.”
The law will be enforced by the California Occupational Health and Safety Administration (Cal/OSHA) and violations will include civil penalties and misdemeanors.
Additionally, existing law allows for an employer, whose employee has suffered unlawful violence or a credible threat of violence that can reasonably be construed to be carried out or to have been carried out at the workplace, to seek a temporary restraining order on behalf of the employee. SB 533 will amend the law to add the ability for a collective bargaining representative to file a restraining order on behalf of the employee, and before filing for the restraining order, the employer or collective bargaining representative must provide the employee who has suffered unlawful violence or a credible threat of violence with an opportunity to not be named in the temporary restraining order. The temporary restraining order may still be sought by the employer without naming the victimized employee.
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