Aunt Ann’s labor attorney, Lisa Weinberger filled us in on the most recent updates regarding employment law in California. Below you’ll find updated information regarding mandatory retirement program registration, minimum wage increases, meal and rest breaks, and COVID-19.
Mandatory Retirement Program Registration
California has a new retirement savings program called CalSavers, which is available to California workers whose employers do not offer a workplace retirement plan. Such individuals have the opportunity, through this program, to contribute to an IRA.
All California employers with 5+ employees are required to register for CalSavers by June 30, 2022, either to facilitate their employees’ access to the CalSavers program, or to certify as exempt if they already offer their own retirement plan. Information on how to register can be found here.
Once registered, employers are supposed to serve a very limited role: facilitate the program by adding and maintaining their employee roster and submitting contributions via payroll deductions. There are no employer fees and employers do not make contributions to employee accounts. During the registration process, employers will submit information for each employee, which will begin the automatic enrollment process. Employees will then have 30 days to decide to participate or opt-out. If they do not make a selection, they will be auto-enrolled in the program. After employee information is added and the 30-day opt-out period ends, employers will be responsible for facilitating payroll deductions each payroll period through bank transfer. These deductions will be added to the employee’s CalSavers’ account and invested according to their selections.
Minimum Wage Increases
Many cities and counties throughout California raise their minimum wage in July of each year. Below are the new minimum wages for the jurisdictions that most impact my clients (please note that this is not necessarily an exhaustive list):
- Berkeley: $16.99/hour.
- Emeryville: $17.68/hour.
- Los Angeles City: $16.04/hour.
- Los Angeles County (unincorporated areas): $15.96/hour.
- Malibu: $15.96/hour.
- Pasadena: $16.11/hour.
- San Francisco: $16.99/hour.
- Santa Monica: $15.96/hour.
- *West Hollywood: $16.00/hour (for non-hotel workers of employers with less than 50 employees).
Employers should keep in mind that employees are entitled to receive the minimum wage in the city or county where they provide services. With many employees still working remotely as a result of COVID-19, employers should ensure that they are meeting all minimum wage requirements in the cities and counties where their employees reside to the extent that those minimum wages may be higher than the jurisdiction where an employer’s offices are located.
*Please note that, in addition to increasing its minimum wage, as of July 1, 2022, the City of West Hollywood is also requiring that full-time employees for all businesses are to be provided at least 96 compensated hours and 80 uncompensated hours per year for sick leave, vacation, or personal necessity. Part-time employees are to be provided compensated and uncompensated hours in increments proportional to that accrued by someone who works 40 hours in a week. Required posters can be found here.
Meal and Rest Break Updates
As you know, California law requires that most non-exempt employees be provided with a thirty-minute uninterrupted meal break before the fifth hour of work, and to the extent an employee does not get this, the employee must be provided with an additional hour of pay referred to as “premium pay.” Likewise, employees are entitled to take a ten-minute uninterrupted rest break for every four hours worked or major fraction thereof, and must be provided with an additional hour of premium pay if they are unable to take a required rest break.
In a recently decided case (Naranjo v. Spectrum Security Services, Inc.), the California Supreme Court made two significant rulings regarding employer obligations with respect to premium payments:
- The Court held that meal and rest period premium payments constitutes wages under the law and, therefore, they must be specifically reported on employee pay stubs; and
- Because these payments are deemed wages, they must be timely paid in full whenever an employee leaves a job. If all premium payments are not paid in full at the time of termination, they can form the basis for waiting time penalties.
In light of this decision, employers are advised to ensure that they are specifically and accurately itemizing premium pay for missed meal or rest breaks on employee wage statements whenever applicable, and to be sure that they are making premium payments whenever they are owed to avoid costly penalties.
Each the ever-changing COVID-19 landscape, Cal-OSHA approved the third readoption of the Emergency Temporary Standard (“ETS”), which went into effect in early May 2022. Information about the current guidelines – including what to do when you have a positive or suspected COVID-19 case in your workforce – can be found here. As always, please do not hesitate to contact us for any COVID-19-related questions as they arise.
Each employment situation is different and deserves a thoughtful approach based upon its specific dynamic. Please do not hesitate to reach out to Aunt Ann’s or Lisa Weinberger for her services.