Capstone Law APC – With a new year comes a new era in California labor law. Nothing iconic, mind you, but a culmination nonetheless in various reforms that took effect the first of the year or due to come into play later in 2014. Among them, a boost in the minimum wage in the state and other reforms that help to further protect workers’ rights.
Critics suggest that a boost to the minimum wage – currently $8.00 per hour until the end of June – will only result in higher prices and higher costs, effectively voiding their windfall. And industry watchers maintain there will always be those employers who attempt to grow their own coffers on the backs of their workers, by skirting around various tenets of California labor code, including overtime exemptions.
Still, advocates for workers’ rights hail the changes, which mostly took effect January 1, as a continuing step – but baby steps, all – in the right direction.
According to The Californian (1/1/14), the minimum wage for the state will rise to $9 per hour effective July 1 this year. The hourly minimum, according to California and labor law, further rises to $10 January 1, 2016.
But there are a number of other updates to California and labor law that went into effect the first of the year. Among them, is a law that prevents employers from threatening to report workers who complain about legitimate job-related concerns and seek payment of legally due wages to immigration authorities. Such has been the case in the past when an employee, seeking legally due wages and getting nowhere with the employer, files a California labor lawsuit.
The new provisions to California labor employment law also provides that certain in-home workers, such as nannies and personal attendants for individuals who are ill, disabled or elderly, will now qualify for overtime – and will now be governed by a bill of rights.
California employee labor law also prohibits employers from forcing seasonal employees, or other employees who work outdoors, to continue working during mandated “recovery periods” in an effort to avoid debilitating or deadly sunstroke.
Victims of crime will also be allowed time off from work to appear, as needed, as part of court proceedings involving violent crime, domestic violence or sexual assault, among others.
The change to California prevailing wage law is by far getting the most traction in the press.
“We were able to improve upon existing protections as well as support workers in a number of new ways, including increasing the minimum wage,” said Steve Smith, a spokesman for the California Labor Federation, in comments featured in The Californian on New Year’s Day. “If you look at this year, compared to over the past decade, it would be hard to argue that there’s been a better year for worker legislation.”
Governor Jerry Brown appears poised to continue to push improvements, as he is able, through California state labor laws.
Source: Lawyers and Settlements, G. Gibb.
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