LOS ANGELES — Local employers began paying a higher minimum wage and offering at least six days of paid leave benefits under city and county laws that took effect July 1 and will eventually increase the minimum wage to $15 per hour.
The local laws require businesses with more than 25 workers to increase their minimum wage from the state-mandated $10 to $10.50 per hour. The hikes are taking place in Los Angeles and a few nearby cities, including Santa Monica and Pasadena, and unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County.
Also going into effect in Los Angeles is a provision in the city’s minimum wage law that requires employers with more than 25 workers to offer at least six days of paid sick leave, which goes beyond the three days currently required under state law.
Smaller businesses have an extra year to implement both provisions.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti joined other city officials and speakers at the Boyle Heights Technology Youth Center to discuss the wage increase, which is the first step of a gradual minimum wage increase to $15.
A free resource fair was also staged at Grand Park in downtown Los Angeles for workers to learn more about efforts to enforce the new wage.
Garcetti said Los Angeles led the way for other local wage increases.
“Today, Los Angeles becomes the first big city in America to begin the climb to a $15-an-hour minimum wage,” he said. “Our decision to end poverty wages in L.A. caused a ripple effect that spread to six other cities in L.A. County, then statewide — and now New York state has followed suit.”
Under the city and county ordinances, the minimum wage will reach $15 per hour in 2020, with future increases pegged to the Consumer Price Index.
Employers with 25 or fewer workers have an extra year to adjust to the new city wages, with the minimum wage reaching $15 per hour by 2021.
More details about Los Angeles’s minimum wage law are available at the city’s Office of Wage Standards website at http://wagesla.lacity.org .
The $10.50 minimum wage will soon apply to all businesses across the state with 26 or more employees. Under the state’s own phase-in of a $15 per hour minimum wage, the $10.50 wage goes into effect six months later than the city laws — on Jan. 1, 2017. The statewide wage is set to reach $15 by 2022 for large businesses and 2023 for small ones.
Rusty Hicks, who leads the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, called it an “exciting day for thousands — tens of thousands — of workers all across the city of Los Angeles [who] will see a pay increase from $10 to $10.50 per hour.”
Hicks, who co-led the effort to raise the minimum wage in Los Angeles, said the next step is to make sure employers start paying the new wages and provide the added benefits. He said that while some employers have raised concerns about the wage leading to job loss or fewer work hours, it will enable workers to “purchase basic necessities” from local businesses.
Stuart Waldman, president of the Valley Industry and Commerce Association, said the multiple minimum wage laws going into effect throughout the county and the state can be confusing for businesses and are “causing quite a bit of consternation” among employers.
Waldman said business owners have told him they have had to reduce hours and benefits and lay off workers or put off hiring new ones in preparation for the wage and sick leave provisions taking effect. City leaders, he said, have made only “empty promises” to reduce the city’s gross receipts tax to make it easier for businesses to cope with the higher wages.
“The politicians know what they can do to help business; at this moment they choose not to,” he said.
Waldman said the business chamber will be hosting a workshop on July 26 with City Attorney Mike Feuer’s office to help businesses get up to speed on how to comply with local wage laws.