More California Cities Add Complexity to Paid Sick Leave and Minimum Wage

by Jun 28, 2016California HR Services & Consulting, Summer 2016

Do you have employees working in Los Angeles, San Diego, Santa Monica, and San Francisco? Each of these cities recently enacted ordinances that require almost all employers to pay minimum wages above the California state minimum wage. (Currently $10.00 per hour and climbing faster than a speed train moving through California’s golden hills.) In addition, they have added paid sick leave requirements that are beyond those required by the state of California.   And oh, if those were the only cities reaching beyond our state’s already generous minimums…. Here’s a “quick and dirty” summary of the most recent changes coming.

Effective July 1, 2016, the City of Los Angeles raises its minimum wage to $10.50 per hour for employers with 26 or more employees. (Smaller employers will have a delay in the new rate.) LA hotel workers will earn considerably more at $15.37 per hour. ( The County of LA has raised its minimum wage to $10.50 per hour for employers with 26 or more employees. Smaller employers in LA County have a delay until 2017.)

In addition, LA workers must be allowed to use up to 48 hours of Paid Sick Leave per year. (The state law allows employers to cap this usage to 24 hours per year.) The details will be reviewed with our clients who have employees working in this area and we are assisting in preparing a customized LA Paid Sick Leave policy.

Employees working in the city of San Diego will be earning at least $10.50 per hour (on or about July 7, 2016), with the minimum wage rising to $11.50 per hour on January 1, 2017 (faster than the state’s new minimum wage increase.) The San Diego minimum wage will be tied to the CPI each year, beginning in January 2019.

San Diego employers must begin offering more generous Paid Sick Leave benefits on or before July 7, 2016. The standard 1 hour of Paid Sick Leave for every 30 hours worked will apply. However, the city law allows an employee to use up to 40 hours of Paid Sick Leave per 12 month period. The biggest stretch from the state law is that San Diego employees will not have a cap on how much Paid Sick Leave they may carry over from year to year (the state law allows an accrual cap of 48 hours). So while you may limit the employee to 40 hours each year, he/she may accrue to an unlimited amount of Paid Sick Leave hours.

San Francisco initiated the Paid Sick Leave movement several years ago. They have amended their local Paid Sick Leave Ordinance to align more closely with the state’s Paid Sick Leave law beginning January 1, 2017. And, San Francisco has had a higher minimum wage for a good while.   It rises to $13.00 per hour on July 1, 2016.

Santa Monica has a new minimum wage law that changes to $10.50 per hour on July 1, 2016. (There are slight delays to 2017 for businesses with 25 or fewer employees.)  Santa Monica set a minimum wage for hotels and businesses operating on hotel property to $13.25 per hour on July 1, 2106.

Santa Monica has also passed an ordinance that requires a higher Paid Sick Leave effective January 1, 2017. Depending on the business size, employers must offer 32 or 40 hours on January 1, 2017, and 40 or 72 hours for employees on January 1, 2018.

Please contact your HR Consultant or legal counsel about these changes. We will work with our retained clients to customize their Paid Sick Leave policies for each city their employees work in. By the way, in many of these cities an employee working as little as two hours per week is covered by the local requirements.

This is a very brief overview of some of the immediate changes. Many other California cities have minimum wages (and/or paid sick leave) in place that are higher than our state’s minimum requirements, including Berkeley, El Cerrito, Emeryville, Long Beach, Los Angeles County, Mountain View, Oakland, Palo Alto, Pasadena, Richmond, San Jose, Santa Clara and Sunnyvale.  

Aside from the  big cities we noted earlier in this article, these California cities have new local minimum wages effective July 1, 2016:

El Cerrito – $11.60 per hour

Emeryville – $13.00 per hour ( if employer has 55 or fewer employees and $14.82/hr for 56 or more employees)

Pasadena – $10.50 per hour if employer has 26 or more employees.

Sunnyvale – $11.00 per hour

The UC Berkeley Labor Center has a helpful resource with all cities minimum wages and the details behind them. Click here to see it.

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