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Although the California Constitution calls for the legislature to convene on Dec. 1, 2014, to start the 2015-16 regular session, the legislature did not reconvene until Monday, Jan. 5, 2015.
The following are key first quarter 2015 events and deadlines:
Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins and Senate President Pro Tempore Kevin de León were named the proposed chairs of their chambers’ committees with jurisdiction over labor and employment issues. Returning as chair of the Assembly Labor and Employment Committee will be Roger Hernández of West Covina. It is assumed the chair of the Senate Labor and Industrial Relations Committee will be freshman Senator Tony Mendoza of Artesia.
Bills of Interest Introduced
As expected, one of the first bills introduced was one that would raise the minimum wage and automate future increases (SB 3). Existing law requires that, on and after July 1, 2014, the minimum wage for all industries be at least $9 per hour. Existing law further increases the minimum wage, on and after Jan. 1, 2016, to at least $10 per hour. This newly introduced bill would increase the minimum wage, on and after Jan. 1, 2016, to at least $11 per hour, on and after July 1, 2017, to at least $13 per hour.
The bill would include automatic adjustments of the minimum wage, commencing Jan. 1, 2019, to maintain employee purchasing power diminished by the rate of inflation during the previous year. The adjustment would be calculated using the California Consumer Price Index, as specified.
The bill would prohibit the Industrial Welfare Commission (IWC) from adjusting the minimum wage downward and from adjusting the minimum wage if the average percentage of inflation for the previous year was negative. The bill would require the IWC to publicize the automatically adjusted minimum wage. The bill would provide that its provisions not be construed to preclude the IWC from increasing the minimum wage to an amount greater than that provided by the formula, result in a reduction in the minimum wage, or preclude or supersede an increase of the minimum wage set any local government or tribal government that would be greater than the state minimum wage. The bill would apply to all industries, including public and private employment.
Another California Senate bill (SB 29) would make technical, non-substantive changes to the existing law requiring an employer to allow an employee to use his or her sick leave to care for an ill spouse, domestic partner, parent, or child, as defined.
On the State Assembly side, AB 11 would revise the definition of an employee under the Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014 to, as of July 1, 2016, include providers of in-home support services.
AB 67 would enact the “Double Pay on the Holiday Act of 2015”, a measure that would require an employer to pay at least two times the regular rate of pay to an employee for work on Thanksgiving or Christmas, and would expand the definition of a crime.
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