California’s minimum wage set to rise on Jan. 1 as 2021 laws take effect

California

Another minimum wage increase is set to kick in on Jan. 1 in California as a number of business and labor laws go into effect for 2021 in the Golden State.

The minimum wage rises to $14 an hour under another existing law that will bring it to $15 an hour for all employees by 2023.

Employers with 25 or fewer workers must pay at least $13 an hour.

California has been incrementally raising the state’s minimum wage across all industries annually since Jan. 1, 2017, and next year will be no exception despite the pandemic-induced recession caused by the coronavirus.

While the governor has the authority to temporarily suspend the scheduled increase, Gov. Gavin Newsom earlier this year declined to use that power, saying it would impact many pandemic front line employees.

“As we continue our efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19, we must also ensure that as our economy recovers, all Californians can benefit in its growth,” Newsom said in the statement back in July. “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.”

Other business and labor laws are also set to go into effect in the new year.

California-based companies must have at least one board director by the end of 2021 who is a racial or sexual minority. By 2022, that bumps to two such directors for smaller boards and to three for boards with nine or more directors. It follows a similar California-first requirement for female board directors.

Companies with 100 or more employees must provide the state information on employees’ race, ethnicity and gender in various job categories, information that could help the state identify pay disparities.

Leaves of absence under the California Family Rights Act expand to include all companies with five or more employees, instead of the previous limit of 50 or more employees.

Employers can’t discriminate or retaliate against workers who take time off for medical care, court proceedings or for other reasons if they are victims of a crime including sexual assault, domestic violence or stalking.

Businesses can’t avoid paying back wages just by adopting a new name under a law that says they’re liable if have the same owners, facilities or workforce.

Employees have a year, instead of six months, to file discrimination or retaliation complaints with the California Labor Commissioner.

A bill that already took effect exempts about two-dozen more professions from California’s landmark labor law designed to treat more people like employees instead of contractors. The law was primarily aimed at ride-hailing giants Uber and Lyft, which won a reprieve on the November ballot.

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