California Employers Must Have a Written Workplace Violence Prevention Plan in Place by the Beginning of July

In September 2023, the Governor of California signed Senate Bill (SB) 553 into law, which requires California employers to create a new written Workplace Violence Prevention Plan by the beginning of July 2024. The WVPP can be included as an independent section in the injury and illness prevention program or a separate document. California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) is responsible for enforcing SB 553’s requirements. Below, we discuss more about Senate Bill 553.

Who is a Covered Employer Under SB 553?

Most employers are required to abide by the Workplace Violence Prevention Plan requirement, but there are certain employers, workers, and places of employment to which the WVPP requirement does not apply. The following are the employers, employees, and employment places that are exempt from the WVPP requirement;

  • Employment places with less than ten workers working at any given time and that are inaccessible to the public
  • Teleworking employees in an area that is outside their employer’s control 
  • Employers who already comply with the violence prevention in healthcare standard
  • Law enforcement agencies
  • Facilities that are run by the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation

How is ‘Workplace Violence’ Defined Under SB 553?

It is crucial for employers and employees to understand the meaning of “workplace violence,” as explained under SB 553. According to the law, any violent act or threat of violence that happens at a place of work is considered workplace violence. SB 553 classifies workplace violence into four categories depending on who commits the violence or who the violence is directed at. There is type 1 violence, type 2 violence, type 3 violence, and type 4 violence.

Requirements Under SB 553

SB 553 requires California employers to create, implement, and keep a Workplace Violence Prevention Plan that meets certain requirements. First, the plan must be in writing and easily accessible to employees. Second, the plan must include, among other things;

  • The names or job designations of those in charge of implementing the plan
  • Effective procedures to receive and respond to reports and to prohibit retaliation against a worker who reports violence
  • Measures to guarantee compliance from workers

Employers must also maintain a violent incident log for all workplace violence incidents. This log must be based on information received from the victims of the violence, witness statements, and investigation findings. The violent incident log must include, among other things;

  • Details of when and where the incident occurred 
  • Classification of who committed the violence
  • Thorough account of the violent incident, including the classification of circumstances when the incident happened

Employers are required to maintain violent incident logs for at least five years. Other records employers are required to maintain for at least five years are records of workplace violence hazard identification and workplace violence incident investigation.

Additionally, the new law requires employers to offer effective training to employees that covers, among many other things, workplace violence hazards, the Workplace Violence Prevention Plan, and how to report incidents of violence. This training should be offered after the WVPP is first established and once a year after that.

Contact a California Employment Lawyer

Contact a qualified California employment lawyer for more information on SB 553 or help with an employment law matter.