San Diego Voters Approve Earned Sick Leave-Minimum Wage Ordinance

What are the new minimum wage and sick leave requirements in San Diego?

Voters in the City of San Diego approved a referendum that will increase the minimum wage to $10.50 an hour which will become effective once the election results are certified in July. The City Council had previously proposed an ordinance to raise the minimum age that was vetoed by the Mayor Faulconer.

New Minimum Wage In San Diego

The “Earned Sick Leave-Minimum Wage Ordinance” will apply to employees within the geographic boundaries of the City who perform at least two hours of work in one or more calendar weeks of the year. To be eligible, the employee must qualify for minimum wage under the state minimum wage law (CalIfornia’s minimum wage is currently $10 an hour). Employees who will not be eligible include, independent contractors, certain youth employees and counselors.

After the initial hike to $10.50, the minimum wage will increase to $11.50 on January 1, 2017; and beginning January 1, 2019, minimum wage increases will be pegged to cost of living increases in the prior year (determined by the Consumer Price Index). Lastly, with pending state-wide minimum wage hikes on the docket, the rate in San Diego will match any California minimum wage increase as of the same date.

Paid Sick Leave

In addition to the minimum wage increase, paid sick leave will also be required. Employees will earn one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked. While sick leave will begin accruing when an employee starts, employers are permitted to enforce a 90-day waiting period before earned sick leave can be used. Lastly, earned sick leave will be limited to 40 hours in a consecutive 12-month period.

Why This Matters

The San Diego referendum comes at a time when there has been a growing push to increase compensation for all employees not only in California but across the Nation. Recently, the Labor Department issued new rules with respect to the “white collar” exemptions to overtime pay that more than doubles the annual salary threshold from $23,336 ($455/week) to $47, 476 ($913/week).

In the end, the San Diego rule means that employers with workers in the city will need to review their policies to ensure they are in compliance with the new minimum wage and sick leave requirements. The best way to avoid potential wage and hour claims under the ordinance is to engage the services of an experienced employment law attorney.

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