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March 19, 2024

New California Workplace Violence Protection Plan Requirements

California’s new workplace violence protection plan requirements go into effect on July 1, 2024. To comply with this new law, employers in California need to develop and implement workplace violence prevention plans.

Senate Bill 553

SB 553 includes two critical changes:

  • Starting July 1, 2024, employers must develop a workplace violence prevention plan as part of their Cal/OSHA Injury and Illness Prevention Plan and keep a log of workplace violence incidents. Employees must receive training through this plan.
  • Starting January 1, 2025, a collective bargaining representative of an employee may seek a restraining order on behalf of an employee who has experienced violence or a credible threat of violence at the workplace. This expands the existing law that authorizes an employee to seek a restraining order.

What Do You Need to Include in the Workplace Violence Prevention Plan

SB 553 provides a list of elements that businesses must include in their workplace violence prevention plans – see the text of SB 553 for details. Along with the names and job titles of the people responsible for implementing the plan, your plan must include effective procedures to:

  • Accept and respond to reports of workplace violence and to prohibit retaliation against employees who make reports
  • Ensure employees comply with the plan
  • Communicate with employees regarding workplace violence matters, including how to report incidents, threats, or concerns and how you will be investigating reports
  • Respond to actual or potential workplace violence emergencies, including how to alert employees, evacuation or sheltering plans, and how to obtain help from staff assigned to respond, security personnel, or law enforcement

What Must You Include in the Violence Incident Log?

Employers must keep a record of information about every workplace violence incident. This log must include the following:

  • The date, time, and location of the incident
  • The workplace violence type or types
  • A detailed description of the incident
  • A classification of who committed the violence (a customer, family member, stranger, etc.)
  • A classification of the circumstances at the time of incident (the employee was completing usual job duties, working during a low staffing level, alone, working in a community setting, etc.)
  • A classification of where the incident occurred (in the workplace, in the parking lot, etc.)
  • The type of incident (physical attack without a weapon, attack with a weapon, threat of physical force, etc.)
  • The consequence of the incident (whether you contacted law enforcement, actions you’ve taken to protect employees, etc.)

The full text of SB 553 contains more details and examples.

What Counts as Violence?

SB 553 classifies four types of workplace violence:

  • Type 1 – committed by a person who has no legitimate business at the worksite.
  • Type 2 – directed at employees by customers, clients, patients, students, inmates, or visitors.
  • Type 3 – targeting an employee and committed by a present or former employee, supervisor, or manager.
  • Type 4 – committed by a person who does not work there but has or is known to have had a personal relationship with an employee.

Acts of self-defense or defense of others are not classified as workplace violence.

Which Employers Are Subject to the New Law?

SB 553 applies to all employers, employees, places of employment, and employer-provided housing, unless they meet one of the exceptions.

Certain employers that comply with Section 3342 or Section 3203 of Title 8 of the California Code of Regulations are not required to comply with SB 553. These employers include healthcare facilities, law enforcement agencies, and facilities operated by the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

The law also excludes employees teleworking from a location of the employee’s choice, provided the location is not under the control of the employer.

Does the Law Make It Illegal to Confront Shoplifters?

Some critics of SB 553 have claimed that the law makes it illegal for employees to confront shoplifters and other criminals and prohibits them from fighting back. The critics say this will only encourage more crime.

According to AP News, previous versions of the bill included a provision that prohibited businesses from requiring non-security employees to confront shoplifters and active shooters, but this provision was removed. Therefore, the law does not make it illegal for non-security employees to confront shoplifters and other criminals.

Do You Have Questions?

Workplace violence is a growing threat for many businesses. For questions about SB553, California’s new workplace violence protection plan requirements, or appropriate insurance coverage, Heffernan Insurance Brokers can help. Contact us.

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