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There’s a new minimum wage law in California? Ask the lawyer

There’s a new minimum wage law in California? Ask the lawyer

Q: We are a small business (15 employees). The coronavirus pandemic has made everything harder, but now we have a new minimum wage we must pay in California?

-L.H., Manhattan Beach

Ron Sokol

A: A business in California with less than 26 workers must increase the hourly rate to at least $ 13. There are some cities, however, such as Sonoma, Mountain View, and Palo Alto, that have increased their minimum wage to $ 15 or more in 2021. Other California employers (with more than 26 employees) must pay a minimum wage of $ 14 per hour. Note, however, that these figures did not just arise. Back in 2016, then-Gov. Jerry Brown set in motion a law that requires the state’s mandatory minimum wage to be increased incrementally each year until it reaches $ 15 an hour in 2022. Current Gov. Gavin Newson decided not to suspend the wage increase because, he said: “Not allowing this increase to go forward will only make life harder for those Californians who have already borne a disproportionate share of the economic hardship caused by this pandemic.”

Q: If there is a potential COVID-19 exposure in the work place, does the law require my employer to do anything?

-E.G., Wilmington

A: A new law this year requires the employer to take specific steps, such as written notifications to employees, within one business day of a potential exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace. The notification must be in English and, if applicable, another language.

Q: We have yet more new laws this year in California, but what if any one or more of them are just not reasonable? Go back to the legislature?

-B.C., Encino

A: The Legislature is one avenue, but a court challenge is another. If those options are not satisfactory, consider a ballot measure. Getting an item up for a vote by the electorate is no easy task, but it can be (and has been) done.

Ron Sokol is a Manhattan Beach attorney with more than 35 years of experience. His column, which appears in print on Wednesdays, presents a summary of the law and should not be construed as legal advice. Email questions and comments to him at ronsesq@gmail.com.

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