Up-to-date information for employers on topics and issues that may affect workplace operations. The posts are current as of the date of the posting.


by Jennifer Brown Shaw and Evan D. Beecher | The Daily Recorder | Jun 24, 2015

California’s stat-wide minimum wage is currently $9.00 per hour, increasing to $10.00 per hour on January 1, 2016. However, several cities have increased the minimum wage well beyond California’s requirements. Similarly, California’s paid sick leave law takes effect on July 1, 2015. But some local governments have passed their own sick leave provisions, providing greater sick leave benefits. Below are some of the local provisions that employers must follow, in addition to the statewide requirements.


Employers conducting business in Berkeley must pay workers a minimum wage of $10.00 per hour. Employees who perform at least two hours of work per week within Berkeley are entitled to the higher minimum wage.

The current ordinance excludes non-profits. But on October 1, 2015, the minimum wage rate will increase to $11.00 per hour for all employers, including non-profits. On October 1, 2016, the minimum wage will rise again to $12.53 per hour for all employers.


Emeryville, located next door to Berkeley, has passed its own minimum wage law. Beginning on July 1, 2015, employers with 55 or fewer employees working at least two hours per week within Emeryville must pay a minimum wage of $12.25 per hour for work performed in Emeryville. Larger employers must pay $14.44 per hour. These rates will increase annually. In 2019, the small and large business rates will be the same and will increase in future years based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI).

Emeryville also has expanded California’s paid sick leave law. Large employers in Emeryville (those with more than 55 employees) must permit an employee to accrue up to 72 hours of paid sick leave. An employee may use all of his or her accrued paid sick leave, within reasonable limitations. Employees may use sick leave for a variety of purposes, including to care for a sick service animal or an individual designated in lieu of a spouse or registered domestic partner.

Los Angeles

Beginning on July 1, 2016, employers with 26 or more employees must pay no less than $10.50 per hour, increasing each year until the minimum wage rate reaches $15.00 per hour in 2020. Employers with 25 or fewer employees, as well as non-profits, will follow one year behind, seeing no local increases until July 1, 2017.


As of March 2, 2015, Oakland employers must pay workers no less than $12.25 per hour. Oakland’s minimum wage rate will be adjusted January 1 of each year, to account for changes in the CPI.

For larger Oakland employers (over 10 employees), the sick leave cap on accrual is 72 hours. There is no cap on the amount of leave that can be used, however, an employer may require paid sick leave to be used in one-hour increments (as opposed to the state’s two-hour increment). If an employee does not have a spouse or domestic partner, the employee may designate someone else for whom to use sick leave to provide care.


Larger employers (those who pay for 800 or more hours of labor in any two-week period) must pay their Richmond employees no less than $9.60 per hour. On January 1, 2016, the minimum wage rate will increase to $11.52 per hour, and will continue to increase annually thereafter.

Employers who derive more than 50 percent of their income from goods and services produced in Richmond, but which are sold outside of the city, are permitted to pay an “intermediate minimum wage” equal to the average between the city’s and the state’s minimum wage rate.

In certain circumstances, employers may pay the city’s minimum wage rate minus $1.50 per hour, assuming that sum remains above the state minimum wage. To qualify, the employer must contribute at least $1.50 per hour to an employee medical benefits plan that allows the employee to receive “employer compensated care from a licensed physician.” The city will be releasing additional guidance in the near future.

San Francisco

San Francisco’s minimum wage rate is $12.25 per hour. This rate will increase to $13.00 on July 1, 2016. The rate will continue to climb until it reaches $15.00 in 2018. It will then be adjusted each year based upon the CPI.

Employers complying with San Francisco’s paid sick leave ordinance must make changes to conform with the new state sick leave law. Starting on July 1, new employees will begin accruing sick leave immediately, rather than 90 days after hire. Small employers (those with fewer than 10 employees) may no longer cap leave accrual at 40 hours. Instead, small employers must increase the cap to 48 hours, per state law. Larger employers must continue allowing accrual up to 72 hours. Also, the employer must reinstate a former employee’s previously accrued and unused sick leave if the employer re-hires that worker within one year after termination.

San Francisco’s sick leave ordinance still contains more generous provisions than state law. For instance, employees may designate someone other than a family member to care for, if they do not have a spouse or domestic partner. There are also no provisions allowing employers to place a yearly cap on the use of accrued sick leave, and employers can generally require leave be used in one-hour increments (not two hour increments, like the state law).

San Jose

Employers must pay a minimum of $10.30 per hour in San Jose. San Jose’s minimum wage rate is adjusted on January 1 of each year to account for changes in the CPI.

Additional Tips for Employers

These local pay minimums and sick leave ordinances generally include notice requirements, such as posters or handouts. They also may include special recordkeeping requirements. Therefore, employers must investigate what each local jurisdiction requires to avoid potential fines and other sanctions.

There are a number of local governments that have implemented so-called “living wage” ordinances, which apply in certain areas of a city, to particular industries, or only to businesses renting from the city. Employers must be familiar with these ordinances and rules as well.

Finally, employers calculating minimum salaries for exempt, salaried workers, such as managers, are need not increase exempt workers’ salaries to conform with the local minimum wage ordinances.