Two New Laws: Minimum Wage & Another Change in Pregnancy Leave
Minimum Wage Going Up
On the first day of this year’s California Legislative session, Assembly member Luis Alejo introduced a bill that would significantly raise California’s minimum wage starting in 2014. If enacted in its current form, the California minimum wage would go to $8.25 in 2014, $8.75 in 2015 and $9.25 in 2016. Starting in 2017, the minimum wage would be automatically adjusted based on inflation indexes. With the Democrats holding supermajority status in the Assembly and State Senate, we expect many pro-employee bills to be introduced in the coming months. We will track them for you throughout the Legislative session.
New Pregnancy Leave in California Effective 12/30/12
California’s Fair Employment and Housing Commission recently proposed new pregnancy disability regulations. These proposed regulations underwent rounds of public comment and revision, but were recently finalized and approved by California’s Office of Administrative Law. As such, the new regulations take effect December 30, 2012. California employers with 5 or more employees are required to provide up to 4 months of pregnancy disability leave to employees disabled by pregnancy or related conditions and there is no length of service requirement to be eligible for this leave. The new regulations detail the process an employer is required to follow in accommodating such leave requests, from initial certification through reinstatement. The regulations also clarify how “four months” is calculated for purposes of identifying the maximum amount of leave available to full-time and part-time employees. The regulations further make clear (based on a recently enacted California law) that employers are required to maintain group health benefits under the same terms as if the employee was actively reporting to work for up to 4 months, and that this requirement is in addition to any additional obligation to maintain health benefits during an additionally approved FMLA/CFRA leave of up to 12 weeks. The new regulations contain a great amount of detail and guidance for employers trying to manage this leave process. Employers are advised to review the rules and their policies and practices to ensure compliance.