Tuesday, April 12, 2016

California and New York Approve $15/hr Minimum Wage Laws

Last week, California and New York passed legislation that will gradually raise the minimum wage in their states to $15/hr. The California law will increase the state’s minimum wage from $10/hr in 2016 to $10.50/hr in 2017 and to $11/hr in 2018. The minimum wage will increase $1/hr each year after that until 2022, although small businesses will not have to pay $15/hr until 2023. After 2022, the minimum wage will automatically increase based on the rate of inflation. 

The New York law raises the minimum wage from $9/hr in 2016 to $11/hr for employees in New York City in 2017 to $13/hr in 2018 and $15/hr in 2019. The minimum wage will increase more slowly for employers in the rest of the state. New York’s law also provides for paid family leave, requiring employers to provide employees with 12 weeks of paid leave to care for an infant, a sick family member, or to help the family when someone is called into active military duty. 

As we have discussed, there has been a strong push in recent years to increase the minimum wage nationally from its current level of $7.25/hr to $15/hr. The Democrats have adopted a $15/hr minimum wage platform, and Senator Bernie Sanders has strongly championed this issue. While some cities, including Seattle and San Francisco, have passed $15/hr minimum wage laws, New York and California are the first states to do so.  

As we have also discussed, paid family leave has become a hot political issue. While federal law requires employers to provide employees with 12 weeks of maternity/paternity leave or to care for a sick family member, it does not require this leave to be paid. Last year, President Obama granted employees of the federal government 6 weeks of paid leave. New York’s law makes it the first state to grant employees 12 weeks of paid family leave. 

The push to increase the minimum wage has also gained traction in Illinois, although legislation that would do so, along with much else in Springfield, has become stalled. Last year, Governor Rauner announced in his State of the State address a plan to increase the minimum wage to $10/hr by 2022. The Illinois Senate followed shortly thereafter by passing a bill to increase the minimum wage to $11/hr by 2019. Currently, the minimum wage remains $8.25/hr for employees over 18 and $7.75/hr for employees under 18. Last year, Chicago passed a law that will increase the minimum wage in the City to $13/hr by 2019. 

Stay tuned to The Workplace Report for updates on increases to the minimum wage both nationally and in Illinois.