Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law Sept. 25, 2013, Assembly Bill (A.B.) 10 to raise the state's minimum wage to $10 an hour by 2016. One day earlier, the governor, a Democrat, signed Senate Bill (S.B.) 770, which will expand the definition of family under the state's paid family leave (PFL) program.
A.B. 10 will raise the current $8 wage to $9 an hour July 1, 2014, and to $10 an hour Jan. 1, 2016. The new law does not automatically increase the wage rate annually based on inflation.
The last time California increased its minimum wage was on Jan. 1, 2007.
At a bill signing ceremony in Los Angeles, Brown said, “It's a special day to stand with workers who are laboring for all of us and laboring at a very low wage."
The California Chamber of Commerce and dozens of groups representing employers in retail, health care, farming, travel, restaurant and other industries opposed the bill, arguing that it will drive up the cost of doing business in the state.
The increase will give California the highest state minimum wage in the country.
Expansion of Family Leave
S.B. 770 will expand the coverage of the state's PFL program to include employees taking care of seriously ill siblings, grandparents, grandchildren, and parents-in-law. The new law takes effect Jan. 1, 2014.
The leave program gives employees up to six weeks of partial wage replacement benefits. Existing law provides benefits to workers who care for seriously ill children, spouses, parents or domestic partners, or to bond with foster or adopted children.
“Expanding this program will result in no additional costs to employees or employers and will help ensure that no worker has to make the terrible choice between putting food on their table and caring for a seriously ill grandmother,” the bill’s sponsor, Democratic Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, said in a Sept. 6 statement after legislators sent the bill to the governor.
The PFL program was established in 2004 and is funded through a payroll tax on employees.
Joanne Deschenaux, J.D., is SHRM’s senior legal editor.