California Expands Paid Family Leave Law

Yesterday, Governor Brown signed Senate Bill 770, which permits workers to take paid family leave to care for an expanded set of seriously ill relatives.  Existing law, under the California Family Rights Act (“CFRA”), permitted eligible California workers to receive temporary disability benefits for up to six weeks of leave per year to care spouses, domestic partners, children and parents with serious health conditions.  The new law extends eligibility for paid family leave to employees caring for grandparents, grandchildren, siblings and parent-in-laws.

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Governor Signs California Minimum Wage Increase Into Law

As expected, Governor Brown signed legislation to raise California’s minimum wage today.  The new law raises the minimum wage to $9 per hour on July 1, 2014 and to $10 per hour on January 1, 2016.  Thus far, it is the only bill to be passed into legislation this year that the California Chamber of Commerce designated as a “job killer.”  Employers should be aware that the minimum wage increase will also affect the minimum salary that can be paid to employees to make them exempt from California onerous overtime requirements.  In order to be exempt from the overtime laws, employees must be paid a monthly salary equivalent to no less than two times the state minimum wage for full-time employment.

- Amy Durgan

The DOL’s End Around Congress On The FLSA — A Sign Of Things To Come?

Beginning on January 2, 2015, the Fair Labor Standards Act’s minimum wage and overtime protections will apply to home care assistance workers who work with the elderly and people with illnesses, injuries or disabilities.  This is the first major regulatory action by the U.S. Department of Labor under the new Secretary of Labor, Thomas Perez.

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The California Minimum Wage Is About To Increase

Last week, the California Legislature voted to increase the state minimum wage to $9.00/hour by July 2014 and to $10.00/hour by January 2016.  The bill passed both the Assembly and the Senate by significant majorities and Governor Jerry Brown supports it. Unless other states increase their minimum wage, California will have the highest minimum wage in the country.

In some areas, city ordinances already make the minimum wage higher than this bill.  In San Francisco, the minimum wage is $10.55/hour and in San Jose it is already $10.00/hour.

The minimum wage increase will also affect the minimum salary that can be paid to employees to make them exempt from California onerous overtime requirements.  In order to be exempt from the overtime laws, employees must be paid a monthly salary equivalent to no less than two times the state minimum wage for full-time employment.

We will keep you updated on any further developments with this law.

- Dan Handman

The Future Of Labor Unions In The U.S.

Labor unions in the United States have been struggling with declining membership for decades.  After reaching an all-time high of approximately 35% unionization of private sector employees in the 1950s, labor unions represent just 6.6% of private sector employees according to the National Labor Relations Board.   Unions are very aware of this decline and have tried many things to arrest it, with limited success.  Apparently recognizing that focusing their efforts on organizing and other traditional labor activities would likely result in a continued decline in membership, unions have sought alternate means to expand their membership or influence in recent years.

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