On October 4, 2023, Governor Gavin Newsom announced that he signed SB 616, which expands the state law with respect to paid sick leave. The new law will be effective January 1, 2024, and increases the minimum amount of sick leave per year from 24 hours (or three days) to 40 hours (or five days).

The accrual rate remains the same at one hour of sick leave for every 30 hours worked, although employers can satisfy the requirements for accrual using another method if “an employee has no less than 24 hours of accrued sick leave or paid time off by the 120th calendar day of employment or each calendar year, or in each 12-month period, and no less than 40 hours of accrued sick leave or paid time off by the 200th calendar day of employment or each calendar year, or in each 12-month period.” 

The new law also allows employers to cap usage at 40 hours (or five days) each year. The new law will increase the cap on accrual of paid sick leave from 48 hours (or six days) to 80 hours (or 10 days).

Many California local jurisdictions have their own independent sick leave laws that California employers will need to consider along with the new state law.

California employers should reach out to experienced counsel with questions and review sick leave policies before the new law goes into effect.

California Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law AB 1228, which requires that fast-food workers who work at a national fast food chain (defined as a limited-service restaurant consisting of more than 60 establishments nationally) be paid a minimum of $20 per hour, effective April 1, 2024. The bill also creates a new Fast Food Council that will determine minimum standards on wages, working hours, and other working conditions. The Fast Food Council will institute minimum wages for these employees on an annual basis. Establishments that operate a bakery that produces and sells bread are not covered by the law. Also, grocery establishments that have a restaurant on their premises and directly employ the employees who work at the restaurant are not covered by the law.

New York Governor Kathy Hochul recently signed the Wage Theft Accountability Act (WTPA) into law, which was effective immediately. The law amends New York’s criminal larceny statute to include “wage theft” in its definition of “larceny.” NY CLS Penal § 155.05(2)(f).

Continue Reading Wage Theft Now Qualifies as Larceny Under New York Law

The California Industrial Welfare Commission (IWC) was established to regulate wages, hours, and working conditions in California. Importantly, the IWC adopted “wage orders,” which establish specific rules for various industries. California has not funded the IWC since 2004, and it has not been in operation. This is likely to change.

California Governor Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill 102 (AB 102) into law in July 2023. AB 102 allocates $3 million for the IWC “to convene industry-specific wage boards and adopt orders specific to wages, hours, and working conditions in such industries, provided that any such orders shall not include any standards that are less protective than existing state law.” Additionally, AB 102 provides that the IWC “shall prioritize for consideration industries in which more than 10 percent of workers are at or below the federal poverty level.” Under AB 102, the IWC “shall convene by January 1, 2024, with any final recommendations for wages, hours, and working conditions in new wage orders adopted by October 31, 2024.”

Given AB 102’s dictates, the IWC is likely to recommend changes to a number of California wage orders. Employers should monitor developments in this area and work with experienced counsel regarding any questions they have about the implications of AB 102.

Governor J.B. Pritzker signed into law HB 3129, an amendment to the Illinois Equal Pay Act that changes how employers can advertise for position openings in Illinois, on August 11, 2023. The amendment goes into effect January 1, 2025, and requires all employers with 15 or more employees to provide pay scale and benefits information in all open job postings.

Read the full Update here.

In August 2023, the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona joined “the growing number of courts that have concluded” that judicial approval of Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) settlements “is neither authorized or necessary.” In Evans v. Centurion Managed Care of Arizona LLC[1], the plaintiff asserted individual claims under the FLSA for unpaid overtime and failure to pay minimum wages. Following the parties’ settlement of the plaintiff’s claims on an individual basis, the parties moved for approval of the settlement, submitting to the court a redacted version of the settlement agreement and a joint motion to file portions of the settlement agreement, including the settlement amount, under seal.

Continue Reading District of Arizona Addresses Judicial Approval of Individual Fair Labor Standards Act Settlements

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on August 30, 2023, which proposes revisions to the regulations issued under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The proposed rule seeks to increase the federal minimum salary threshold required for employees to qualify as exempt employees to roughly $55,000 per year.

Continue Reading Department of Labor Seeks To Raise the Federal Minimum Salary Required To Qualify as an Exempt Employee for Fair Labor Standards Act Purposes

A federal court in Arizona recently rejected a defense for Arizona employers seeking to avoid liability for unpaid wages under the Arizona Wage Act. In Arrison v. Walmart, the district court held that there is no “employer knowledge” requirement under the AWA, rejecting Walmart’s attempt to defeat an unpaid wages class action against the company by arguing that it did not know or have reason to believe that its employees were working following a pre-shift COVID-19 screening.

Read the full Update here.

Effective January 1, 2024, California’s minimum wage will increase to $16.00 per hour for all employers, regardless of size. Under California’s Labor Code, by August 1 of each year, the director of finance will determine if the minimum wage must be adjusted for inflation and, if so, calculate the increase in minimum wage by the lesser of 3.5 percent.

As a result, on July 31, 2023, California Department of Finance Director Joe Stephenshaw officially certified that “minimum wage shall increase by 3.5 percent to $16.00 per hour” for all employers (from $15.50 per hour).

The increase in the minimum wage rate also impacts the minimum salary amounts for full-time exempt employees. Beginning January 1, 2024, the minimum salary for a full-time exempt employee will be $66,560 per year.

Even though California’s minimum wage increased across the board, California employers should be mindful of the various cities and counties that have adopted their own, higher minimum wage rates. Employers with questions about the applicable rates should contact experienced counsel with questions.

Governor J.B. Pritzker signed into law HB 2862 on August 4, 2023, which amends the Illinois Day and Labor Services Act by adding new equal pay obligations and safety and training requirements for employers who hire temporary workers and for staffing agencies that place them—all of which are effective immediately.

Read the full Update here.