Voters in San Diego have approved an ordinance that would immediately raise the city’s minimum wage to $10.50 per hour (up from the current $10 per hour) and boost the wage again in January 2017 to $11.50 per hour. Increases consistent with the consumer price index would begin on January 1, 2019 and continue annually thereafter. The increase is currently slated to take effect immediately following certification of the election results.

The ordinance further provides for employers to begin providing paid sick leave for employees who perform at least two hours of work in San Diego per year. Eligible employees will be entitled to accrue one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked in the city with no cap on total accrual, though employers may cap usage at 40 hours per year.

Pursuant to the ordinance, paid sick leave will be available for the following covered purposes:

  • the employee’s own physical or mental illness, injury, or medical condition or to obtain diagnosis, treatment, or other medical reasons, including pregnancy or obtaining a physical examination;
  • to provide care or assistance to a family member with a physical or mental illness, injury, or medical condition or who requires diagnosis or treatment;
  • when necessary for the employee or an employee’s family member to obtain medical attention or other services due to domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking; or
  • if the employee’s place of business or child’s school or child care provider is closed due to a public health emergency.

Unused leave must be carried over from year to year, but need not be paid out upon termination of employment. Similar to the minimum wage portion of the ordinance, the paid sick leave provisions are slated to go into effect immediately upon certification of the election results, though the city may provide a grace period for employers to come into compliance.

The referendum vote followed protracted political wrangling, beginning with the San Diego City Council’s vote in July 2014 to approve the ordinance, which was subsequently vetoed by the city’s mayor. The City Council in turn voted to override the mayor’s veto, following which opponents of the ordinance successfully collected enough signatures to force the referendum.