Employers doing business in California have long known to expect the state legislature to impose higher employee protections and benefits than Congress.   Well, more and more local governments – among them California’s most populous cities – are looking to up the ante over the state-mandated protections. 

Specifically, local governments are increasing minimum wage rates and paid sick leave benefits for employees working within city or county limits.  A number of these protections kicked in on July 1, 2016, so now is a perfect time to double-check your wage and sick leave benefits if you have employees in California.

Minimum Wage Update

Effective January 1, 2016, minimum wage across California increased from $9.00 per hour to $10.00.  However, a number of local governments have increased the minimum wage even further.  As you likely know, whenever a local minimum wage conflicts with the state minimum wage, the employer must follow the stricter standard – in other words, the employer must follow the wage standard most beneficial to the employee. 

Below is a chart outlining the local minimum wages that are higher than the state minimum wage, many of which go into effect on July 1, 2016:

Click here to view the table.

Paid Sick Leave Update

In addition to the minimum wage increases effective on July 1, the cities of Emeryville, Los Angeles, and San Diego increased the paid sick leave benefits for their employees effective this date.  These cities join Oakland and San Francisco (and Long Beach, to a small extent) in providing paid sick leave benefits above and beyond that which is required under state law.

For example, under the new Los Angeles law, employers must allow employees to use twice the amount of leave than required by California law – 48 hours of paid sick leave.  Moreover, an employee can carry over 72 hours of paid sick leave from year to year, regardless of whether an employer provides sick leave under the “lump grant” method (providing the full 48 hours at the beginning of each year of employment, calendar year, or 12-month period) or the accrual method (having sick leave accrue at the rate of one hour of sick leave per every thirty 30 hours worked). This represents a significant difference from the state paid sick leave law, which does not carry over any unused leave hours for employers using the “lump grant” method.

Below is a chart that highlights the key provisions of each local paid sick leave law.  Keep in mind that not every detail or scenario is covered by this chart – make sure to contact your employment counsel for advice regarding specific scenarios:

Click here to view the table.

Although this convenient chart is a handy snapshot as of July 1, 2016, cities in California continue to pass new local ordinances and amend existing ones that affect both minimum wage and paid sick leave law.  For example, Santa Monica has enacted a minimum wage and paid sick leave law that will be effective on January 1, 2017. Check with your local city government on whether a local minimum wage ordinance might apply to your workforce, and check back to this space at the end of 2016 for these and under updates.