With the dawn of a new year comes a fresh wave of legislation, particularly impacting eateries across California. These new laws set standards for business operations and reflect evolving societal values regarding labor rights, environmental stewardship, and public health. As we delve into these regulations, we’ll explore their implications for restaurants and what you need to know to stay compliant.
California is enacting a slew of new laws in 2024 that touch on various sectors, signaling significant shifts in labor rights, consumer protection, and business practices statewide.
AB 1228: One hotly contested bill– Assembly Bill 1228— heralds a milestone in labor rights by raising the minimum wage for fast-food workers to $20 an hour at major chains. This increase takes effect on April 1, 2024. While this move champions economic equity and provides financial stability for workers, it poses operational challenges for businesses navigating increased labor costs. Adaptation strategies, such as adjusting pricing structures or optimizing workflow efficiencies, may be imperative to maintain profitability without compromising employee welfare. It is interesting to note that AB1228 does not consider establishments that bake bread for sale on its premises to be fast-food restaurants, thus exempting such facilities from having to follow this law.
SB 1383: Meanwhile, Senate Bill 1383 aims to reduce waste in landfills while addressing food insecurity. Mandating larger establishments, including hotels and restaurants, to donate surplus food to food recovery organizations underscores a concerted effort to mitigate environmental impact and support vulnerable communities. While this initiative aligns with sustainability goals, it necessitates logistical coordination and adherence to strict guidelines to ensure food safety standards are upheld.
SB 478: Furthermore, Senate Bill 478 prohibits hidden charges on purchases, a measure aimed to enhance transparency and consumer trust. While intended to curb exploitative practices, such as undisclosed fees, its implementation requires businesses to recalibrate pricing strategies and communicate openly with customers. SB478’s banning hidden fees won’t prevent restaurants from using service charges, clarified the attorney general’s office, alleviating fears within the dining industry. The law targets “junk fees,” aiming to ensure transparency in pricing, but restaurants can continue to charge service fees as long as they’re disclosed in advertised prices. The Golden Gate Restaurant Association seeks further clarification and guidance from the attorney general’s office as SB478, signed earlier in October, takes effect on July 1, 2024.
SB 616: Senate Bill 616 ensures California’s part- and full-time employees receive 40 hours or five days of paid sick leave per year, effective January 1, 2024.
AB 1325: One significant change is the implementation of Assembly Bill 1325, which extends opportunities for home-operated food businesses to thrive. By raising the earnings threshold to $100,000 annually, these enterprises are poised for growth, fostering entrepreneurship while diversifying the culinary scene. However, compliance with food safety standards and regulatory requirements remains paramount to ensure consumer well-being.
As these laws come into effect, the restaurant landscape in California is poised for transformation. While some establishments may encounter initial hurdles in adapting to regulatory changes, proactive engagement and strategic planning can position them for long-term success. By embracing innovation, sustainability, and inclusivity, eateries can navigate the evolving regulatory landscape while catering to the diverse needs of patrons and communities alike.