In addition to increasing the minimum wage across the State to account for inflation, California was also busy creating industry-specific minimum wages in healthcare and the fast food industry.
- Statewide MW for all employers will be $16.00: Effective January 1, 2024, the general statewide minimum wage will increase by .50 cents, bringing the hourly rate from $15.50 to $16.00. California employers must also keep in mind that the salary test for the primary overtime exemptions in California is pegged at two times the minimum wage. Therefore, this minimum wage increase to $16 also increases the salary test floor for the California professional, administrative, and executive exemptions to $66,560 annually or $1,280 weekly. Effective January 1, 2024, employees who are paid a salary that is less than this will not qualify for these exemptions, regardless of whether they are performing exempt duties.
- Health Care Worker MW: California recently added sections 1182.14 and 1182.15 to the California Labor Code, which substantially raises the base minimum wage for health care workers. The new law expands the definition of covered “health care” positions to include essentially any employee who works in the health care setting. The minimum wage for all healthcare employees will ultimately increase to $25 per hour, with the first incremental increase above the general state minimum wage to occur on June 1, 2024. The rate at which the minimum wage increases take effect will vary depending upon the size and nature of the employer.
- “Covered Health Care Employee”: A “covered health care employee” is defined as an employee of a facility that provides patient care, health care services, or other services supporting the provision of health care. The new law doesn’t just apply to nurses, physicians, caregivers, medical residents, interns, or fellows. It also applies to those who provide tangential support to healthcare facilities. This includes janitors, housekeepers, groundskeepers, guards, clerical workers, nonmanagerial administrative workers, food service workers, gift shop workers, technical and ancillary services workers, medical coding and medical billing personnel, schedulers, call centers and warehouse workers, and laundry workers.
- “Covered Health Care Facility”: A covered health care facility includes the following general categories, subject to specific definitions: 1) any facility or other work site that is part of an integrated health care delivery system; 2) a licensed general acute care hospital; 3) a licensed acute psychiatric hospital; 4) a special hospital; 5) a licensed skilled nursing facility, if owned, operated, or controlled by a hospital or integrated health care delivery system or health care system; 6) a patient’s home when health care services are delivered by an entity owned or operated by a general acute care hospital or acute psychiatric hospital; 7) a licensed home health agency; 8) a clinic, including a specialty care clinic, or a dialysis clinic; 9) a psychology clinic; 10) outpatient and teaching clinics; 11) a licensed residential care facility for the elderly, if affiliated with an acute care provider or owned, operated, or controlled by a general acute care hospital, acute psychiatric hospital, or the parent entity of a general acute care hospital or acute psychiatric hospital; 12) a psychiatric health facility; 13) a mental health rehabilitation center; 14) certain licensed community clinics; 15) rural health clinic; 16) an urgent care clinic; 17) an ambulatory surgical center; 18) a physician group; 19) a county correctional facility that provides health care services; and 20) a county mental health facility.
- Fast Food – The basic takeaways of AB 1228 include that, effective April 1, 2024, the hourly wage for most fast-food and fast-casual restaurant workers increases to $20 per hour, with the Fast Food Council to set annual wages thereafter beginning in 2025 and through 2029, subject to a yearly increase cap tied to the Consumer Price Index. Fast food restaurants covered under AB 1228 include limited-service restaurants in California, defined as restaurants consisting of more than 60 establishments nationally that share a common brand, or that are characterized by standardized options for decor, marketing, packaging, products, and services, and which are primarily engaged in providing food and beverages for immediate consumption on or off premises where patrons generally order or select items and pay before consuming, with limited or no table service. The law also allows the Fast Food Council to recommend regulations related to health and safety working conditions, security, taking protected leave, and protection from harassment and discrimination. However, as part of the negotiations, franchise corporations would not be held liable for workplace violations at individual restaurant franchisees, and the Council would not have the authority to regulate paid sick leave, vacation, or predictable scheduling for franchisees.