February 4, 2022

Producer’s Guide to New Employment Laws in California (2024)

The Wrapbook Team
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As our calendar apps tick into 2024, a host of new employment laws are going into effect within the great state of California, and many of them will inevitably impact the film industry in minor or major ways. 

In this post, we’ll review the new laws most relevant to professional filmmaking and provide insight on how they might affect producers, their crews, and the productions that bring them together.

This post is no substitute for the legal consultation of a licensed lawyer, but it’s designed as a basic guide to help you spot red flags and troubleshoot your production operations. 

Let’s dig in. 

AB 636: Updated Wage Theft Prevention Notice

Under California law, employers are required to provide each of their employees a written wage theft prevention notice at the time of their hiring. The wage theft prevention notice must outline the basic terms of the workers employment, including items like the rate of pay, the name of the employer, and contact information for the employer’s workers’ compensation insurance carrier.

Assembly Bill 636 alters and updates the information requirements for wage theft prevention notices. Specifically, the bill adds the requirement that employers provide written information on “the existence of a federal or state emergency or disaster declaration applicable to the county or counties where the employee is to be employed, and that was issued within 30 days before the employee’s first day of employment, that may affect their health and safety during their employment.” 

How does AB 636 affect producers, productions, or crews?

The degree to which AB 636 will affect film production will vary from shoot to shoot. On a basic level, producers should update their standard wage theft prevention notice in accordance with the new template published by the California Labor Commissioner. If you use a payroll company like Wrapbook, they’ll usually update their standard startwork as part of their role as an employer-of-record

However, for productions that will shoot in a recent disaster area, there may be additional complications. If you believe your project may qualify, you should seek the advice of your legal counsel as early on in pre-production as possible. They may recommend additional changes to your wage prevention notices, crew deal memos, or other documentation. 

Click here to read the full text of Assembly Bill 636.

SB 553: Workplace Violence Prevention Plan

Starting July 1, 2024, Senate Bill Number 553 will require employers to establish a comprehensive workplace violence prevention plan. SB 553 creates several new requirements for employers, including but not limited to: 

  • Employers must record information in a violent incident log for each incident.
  • Employers must provide training on their workplace violence prevention plan.
  • Employers must provide additional training when a new or previously unrecognized hazard becomes known and changes have been made to the prevention plan. 
  • Employers must maintain records related to their workplace violence prevention plan.

SB 553 essentially expands the basic concept of injury and illness prevention programs to incidents of violence. It establishes a procedural baseline for an adequate corporate response to incidents in which personal injury might occur. 

How does SB 553 affect producers, productions, or crews?

SB 553 will require production companies to add a compliant workplace violence prevention plan to their organizational documents. For the most part, individual productions and crew members should see little change in their day-to-day work. However, in the event of a violent incident on set, they will likely face new reporting requirements under the new prevention plan.

Click here to read the full text of Senate Bill 553.

AB 594: Alternative Enforcement of Labor Code

Assembly Bill 594 authorizes a public prosecutor to file an action, either civil or criminal, for a violation of certain Labor Code provisions or to enforce those provisions independently. This is a significant expansion of the public prosecutors’ ability to expediently handle Labor Code violations in a court of law.

Additionally, AB 594 includes several smaller, related provisions. For example, the bill requires that any money successfully recovered by a public prosecutor be first applied to payments due to workers affected by the initial Code violation. 

Public prosecutors are limited to taking action against violations occurring in the geographic jurisdiction. The bill also, technically, has an expiration date. The authorizations of AB 594 are set to expire on January 1, 2029.

How does AB 594 affect producers, productions, or crew?

For producers and production companies that maintain compliance, Assembly Bill 594 will have almost no immediate impact. However, the bill does further increase a producer or production company’s exposure to legal consequences in the event of a Labor Code violation.

Of particular note is the increased risk of prosecution due to the willful misclassification of employees. If a production company intentionally misclassifies an employee as a contractor, AB 594 both makes it easier for a public prosecutor to take action against the company and for the misclassified worker to acquire financial restitution. 

In other words, AB 594 is just another reason to correctly classify your crew members.

Click here to read the full text of AB 594.

SB 331: Amendment to the Limitations of Non-Disclosure and Settlement Agreements

Senate Bill Number 331 amends Section 1001 of California’s Code of Civil Procedure and Section 12964.5 of the state’s Government Code to further prohibit employers from requiring employees to sign non-disclosure agreements or other documents that would prevent the employee from disclosing factual information about unlawful acts in the workplace. 

In other words, SB 331 prohibits employers from using NDAs or other similar agreements to prevent employees from reporting information about unlawful activity at work. Such unlawful activity might include (but is not limited to) sexual harassment, discrimination, or retaliation against an employee for reporting such activity. 

How does SB 331 affect producers, productions, or crews?

SB 331 requires that producers and production companies make a slight alteration to their current NDA policy. If your current NDA template restricts signees from disclosing information, you must amend its language to specifically state that the document does not- in any way- prevent signees from disclosing information about activity that they have reason to believe is unlawful. 

With that small change, your NDA should be good to go, but it’s a best practice to always consult a lawyer.

Producers Guide to New Employment Laws - Wrapbook - Signature
SB 331 adjusts the limits of NDAs and similar agreements. SOURCE

Critically, the restrictions set by SB 331 only go into effect for agreements that were entered on or after January 1, 2022. Previous agreements should require no reevaluation, provided that the documents followed all legal stipulations required at the time of signing. 

Click here to read the full text of Senate Bill 331.

SB 657: Required Notices and Workplace Posting as Electronic Documents

Senate Bill Number 657 is an act to add Section 1207 to the state Labor Code. Section 1207 specifies that, in any situation within which an employer is legally obligated to physically post or display information at a workplace, the employer may also choose to distribute that information to their employees via email. 

Notably, however, information distribution via email does not negate or otherwise eliminate the employer’s obligation to physically display that same information.  

How does SB 657 affect producers, productions, or crews?

SB 657 does not fundamentally change a producer, production company, or production facility’s obligation to physically display mandatory workplace postings. However, the bill does create an opportunity through which a production may notify employees of their state-directed workers’ rights in a clear, verifiable manner. 

In essence, SB 657 enables employers to create a digital paper trail that proves that employees have been adequately notified of their workers’ rights. 

This is a minor but potentially useful protection for producers in the event of a lawsuit. It’s also a boon to employees who may not otherwise be aware of their own legal privileges. While physical postings are still required, the information contained within those postings may now also be added to a standard digital startwork packet along with any other mandatory startwork materials

Click here to read the full text of Senate Bill 657.

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AB 1003: Criminalization of Intentional Wage Theft

Assembly Bill Number 1003 is an act to add Section 487m to the California Penal Code, the establishment of which will make intentional wage theft on the part of an employer criminally punishable past a certain threshold. 

Specifically, the new law states that “the intentional theft of wages in an an amount greater than nine hundred fifty dollars ($950) from any one employee, or two thousand three hundred fifty dollars ($2,350) in the aggregate from two or more employees, by an employer in any consecutive 12-month period may be punishable as grand theft.”

In the state of California, an offense categorized as grand theft may result in either misdemeanor or felony charges. 

For its purposes, AB 1003 expands its definition of “employee” to include independent contractors and expands its definition of “employer” to include hiring entities of independent contractors. The bill also authorizes “wages, gratuities, or other compensation” subject to a intentional wage theft prosecution to be recoverable by the plaintiff (i.e. the employee) as restitution.  

How does AB 1003 affect producers, productions, or crew?

Intentional wage theft was already considered an unlawful employment activity within the previous bounds of the law. As such, AB 1003 should not affect the practices of producers and production entities that currently operate in good legal standing. 

Keep your set protocols up-to-date with our COVID-19 resource guide. SOURCE

AB 1003 does, however, provide employees with new tools and leverage for self-defense. In the unfortunate event that a crew member would fall victim to wage theft, that crew member now has the full weight of the law on its side as well as the means to recover their stolen earnings. 

Click here to read the full text of Assembly Bill 1003.

SB 762: Clarified Requirements for Arbitration Invoicing

Senate Bill Number 762 adds and amends several sections in the California Civil Code and the California Code of Civil Procedure to clarify the invoicing and payment processes associated with employer-employee arbitrations. 

SB 762 requires arbitration providers to provide invoices for fees and costs before an arbitration can proceed to all parties of the arbitration on the same day and by the same means with the invoiced amounts issued as due upon receipt unless explicitly stated otherwise. 

SB 762 further stipulates that a failure to pay these arbitration invoices in a timely fashion by an employer may result in a number of penalties, including the loss of the right to compel arbitration, the possibility of a claim being shifted from arbitration to a relevant court, and compelled fines in the form of attorneys’ fees or other costs.

In effect, the bill creates significant consequences for employers who fail to pay arbitration fees on time. 

How does SB 762 affect producers, productions, or crew?

SB 762 has little impact on the day-to-day operations of a set or production company, but it may have significant consequences on the legal underpinnings of production entities and how they structure their contractual obligations. 

The bill further elevates timely arbitration payments to a high priority, in the unfortunate event that a contractual dispute enters arbitration in the first place. 

To alleviate pressure associated with such payments, production entities should seek advice from their legal counsel to see how arbitration agreements might be structured or restructured to address future payment timeframes before they become an issue.

Click here to read the full text of Senate Bill 762.

SB 606: Workplace Safety Enforcement

Senate Bill Number 606 adds and amends several sections within the California Labor Code to create new divisions and criteria for violations under California Division of Occupational Safety and Health regulations. 

Violations can now fall under the new classifications of “willful and egregious” and “enterprise-wide.” As the classification titles suggest, these new classifications cover violations that are particularly negligent, destructive, or widespread. Thus, they carry significant financial consequences that are designed to mount quickly. 

How does SB 606 affect producers, productions, or crew?

Perhaps more than anything, SB 606 is further encouragement for producers, production companies, and other production personnel to practice appropriate due diligence when it comes to set safety in its many forms. Producers should be aware that SB 606 is explicitly designed to make intentional or flagrant safety violations highly punishable and, therefore, even more highly undesirable. 

In other words, SB 606 reinforces the idea that safety should always come first.

For more information on best set safety practices, check out our guide to using AMPTP Safety Bulletins.

Click here to read the full text of Senate Bill 606.

California minimum wage updates

As of January 1, 2024, California has raised its state-mandated minimum wage to $16.00 per hour for all employers. Productions should double-check their city and county labor laws with the California Labor & Workforce Development Agency to make sure all contract pay rates also meet any additional or modified local requirements. 

To keep up with minimum wage requirements in any part of the U.S., check out our complete list of overtime and minimum wage laws by state

Compliance isn’t all that complicated

Producers don’t really have time to worry about compliance. But with so many laws, it’s kind of hard not to. 

One solution? Let tax and payroll professionals handle your filings, so you can focus on what you actually like to do. 

Wrapbook is a one-stop entertainment payroll and insurance solution that empowers you to save time, money, and stress when paying your crew and other employees. 

But it’s not all about saving time. When you’re not bogged down by compliance concerns, sure you can move faster, but now with a much clearer head and peace of mind. You can rest easy knowing you won’t be hit with any preventable or surprising costs. 

Check out our demo to learn more about how Wrapbook can help with your next shoot.

Wrapping up

The above list provides a basic summary of new California labor laws and how they might affect producers in 2024. However, if you have concerns about managing your next production in accordance with labor laws in California or any other state, the best course of action is to seek direct advice from a qualified legal representative. 

Want to know more about labor laws in filmmaking? Check out our posts on child actor laws or on getting your business AB-5 ready. You can also download our free payroll compliance checklist to help you handle the basics.

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Last Updated 
February 4, 2022


At Wrapbook, we pride ourselves on providing outstanding free resources to producers and their crews, but this post is for informational purposes only as of the date above. The content on our website is not intended to provide and should not be relied on for legal, accounting, or tax advice.  You should consult with your own legal, accounting, or tax advisors to determine how this general information may apply to your specific circumstances.

About the author
The Wrapbook Team

The Wrapbook Team consists of individuals who are thrilled about building modern software tools for creators. We’re a team of compassionate and curious people dedicated to solving complex problems with sophisticated solutions. You can find us across the U.S. and Canada.

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