Recently, the California Supreme Court ruled that an UberEats driver did not give up his right to sue under the state’s Private Attorney General Act (PAGA), regardless that he signed an agreement to bring work-related complaints to the company for private arbitration.
What is the Private Attorney General Act? It’s a special law in California that allows workers to sue for employment law violations on behalf of the state and keep 25% of the money they win. The rest of the money goes into a state agency to help fund the labor law enforcement agency.
That’s one of many California Labor Laws making headlines in 2023. What other labor laws are important to know? We’ll break down the latest California Labor Laws for you.
Agricultural Jobs and Overtime
Effective January 1, 2023, agricultural workers are entitled to overtime, even if their employer has no more than 25 employees. Overtime for a small company is required after 9 hours in one day or 50 hours in one week. If the employer has more than 25 employees, overtime is required after 8 hours in a day or 40 hours in a week.
Garment Worker Protection Act
Starting in 2022, any worker in the garment industry who is not covered by a collective bargaining agreement is not allowed to be paid a piece rate. These workers must be paid an hourly wage that is at or above minimum wage. If an employer does hire a garment worker and only pays a piece rate, they and manufacturers that contract with them are liable for fines of up to $200 per worker per pay period.
Garment workers can be paid incentive-based bonuses to boost productivity. But, those bonuses cannot reduce the rate of pay to be less than minimum wage. If a worker’s employer isn’t following wage laws, the employer, brand, and manufacturers hiring the employer can all be held liable.
What does this mean? Suppose you work for a garment company that does all the sewing for a major fashion label. You’re paid per piece and not minimum wage. Not only is the company employing you responsible that you’re paid correctly, but the fashion label is equally responsible.
Job Recall Rights
During the COVID pandemic, employees in the hospitality and service industry may have lost jobs due to the decline in business. SB 93 requires employers to first rehired the workers they laid off, at the same position they held or similar. Priority for the jobs is based on seniority. Only after that rule is met can employers hire new employees.
Some companies, such as warehouses with conveyor belts, require employees to meet a specific quota within a shift. This might be in a job like packing orders where employees are expected to fill 50 orders per hour.
The Warehouse Quota law requires employers to provide a clear, written description of the quota requirements. It must include what actions may be taken if an employee doesn’t meet the quota during a shift. This same law also limits quotas if they are interfering with the employee’s right to take a bathroom break or have a meal or rest period.
Another new law in 2023 is the Bereavement Leave law. Any company with five or more employees must grant up to five days of bereavement leave after an employee’s qualifying family member dies. It’s required if the employee has worked there for at least 30 days. This law covers spouses, children, parents, grandparents, siblings, grandchildren, and in-laws.
On January 1st, it became a legal requirement for all companies with 15 or more employees to disclose a table that listed the pay range for every position. It also enabled current employees to ask to see the pay range for their job.
The City of Los Angeles’ Fair Work Week Ordinance
For workers in Los Angeles, the FWWO applies to any company with a minimum of 300 employees around the globe. It’s meant specifically to address issues with scheduling in the retail industry. When hiring employees, a “written good faith estimate of the work schedule must be provided. Employees must be given a “good faith estimate” of their work schedule within ten days of requesting one.
The goal of FWWO is to help employees better predict their upcoming pay and when they will be on-call or expected to work. Employers must provide workers with their work schedule at least 14 days before that work period begins. If the employer changes the schedule after that, the employee must agree to the change. Employers are required to pay “predictability pay” following these rules:
- One hour of pay for any increase in work hours that adds more than 15 minutes to a shift.
- 50% of the worker’s pay rate times any reduction of work hours over 15 minutes.
- One hour of pay for every change made to the work schedule (date, time, or location) that doesn’t increase work hours.
- 50% of the worker’s pay rate for any hours in an on-call shift where the employee is never called to come into work.
On January 1, 2023, California’s minimum wage increased to $15.50 per hour. Several counties and cities set higher minimum wages than the state’s minimum wage. That list of exceptions is:
- Alameda – $16.52
- Belmont – $16.75
- Berkeley- $18.07
- Burlingame – $16.47
- Cupertino – $17.20
- Daly City – $16.07
- East Palo Alto – $16.50
- El Cerrito – $17.35
- Emeryville – $18.67
- Foster City – $16.50
- Fremont – $16.80
- Half Moon Bay – $16.45
- Hayward – $16.34 (Large employers only)
- Los Altos – $17.20
- Los Angeles/Los Angeles County (Unincorporated) – $16.78/$16.90
- Malibu – $16.90
- Menlo Park – $16.20
- Milpitas – $17.20
- Mountain View – $18.15
- Novato – $15.53 (Small Employers), $16.07 (26-99 employees), or $16.32 (100 or more employees)
- Oakland – $15.97
- Palo Alto – $17.25
- Pasadena – $16.93
- Petaluma – $17.06
- Redwood City – $17
- Richmond – $16.17
- San Carlos – $16.32
- San Diego – $16.30
- San Francisco/South San Francisco – $18.07/$16.70
- San Jose – $17
- San Mateo/San Mateo County (Unincorporated) – $16.75/$16.50
- Santa Clara – $17.20
- Santa Monica – $16.90
- Santa Rosa – $17.06
- Sonoma – $16 (Small Business) otherwise $17
- Sunnyvale – $17.95
- West Hollywood – $19.08
These wages are all effective as of July 1st. Small businesses are defined as having 25 or fewer employees. Note that there are exceptions for some areas of employment. Sheep and goat herders in California are covered by IWC Wage Order 14-2001 which is $2,755.48 per month. Employers cannot deduct meals and lodging from monthly wages.
If you work for tips, your employer cannot deduct your tips from your pay.
That’s one exception to wage laws. Outside salespeople, apprentices under the State Division of Apprenticeship Standards, and people who are employed by a parent, spouse, or child are exempt from wage laws.
People who are learning a trade or new occupation can be paid 85% of the minimum wage for the first 160 hours of employment. In certain situations where a disabled worker is employed by a sheltered workshop or rehabilitation facility, if the organization has a license allowing lower wages, they are exempt from minimum wage laws until the first day of 2025.
What if you want a job and are willing to work for less than minimum wage? It’s not allowed. You must be paid minimum wage unless you are in a job that is exempt.
If you are an employee and do not believe you are being paid the minimum wage in your area, file a wage claim with the State of California Labor Commissioner or contact an employment law attorney. Your employer cannot retaliate against you if you file a complaint.
Shegerian Conniff offers free consultations, so don’t be afraid to see if you have a valid complaint. You don’t have to pay us to hear you out and get our advice. If we believe you have a valid labor law complaint and we take your case, our fee comes from the settlement or award you receive. Reach us online to schedule a free consultation.