By Carl Kanowsky
I have a message to employers who have employees working in the unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County: Welcome to 2017; you have obligations that actually started six months ago.
As hopefully all employers know by now, the minimum wage went up statewide in California, effective Jan. 1, 2017. The new California minimum wage is $10 an hour if you have 25 or fewer employees and $10.50 an hour if you have 26 or more employees.
Now you’d be mistaken if you thought that the employer’s responsibility ended at making sure the correct wage is paid based upon California law.
Numerous cities and counties in California felt the State Legislature was not moving fast enough at getting to $15 an hour as the minimum wage. So they took matters into their own hands.
Over a dozen cities and counties in Northern California have adopted accelerated schedules to get to $15 by as early as 2019, not 2023 as called for under state law.
If you’re a Southern California employer, you should not feel complacent simply because you’re not based up north. In fact, numerous cities in this region have also adopted their own timetables to get to $15, including the City of Los Angeles, County of Los Angeles, along with the cities of Pasadena, Santa Monica, and San Diego.
We’re not done yet at just knowing the correct minimum wage. As Marisa Tomei said in “My Cousin Vinny,” “No, there’s more.”
Here’s the trap for the unwary. If your employees work for more than two hours a week anywhere in the unincorporated area of Los Angeles, then you must abide by the County Ordinance, regardless of where your company is based.
This county wage enforcement ordinance contains a whole host of additional employer obligations that began on July 1, 2016. Here’s a bullet point list of them:
- Employers must display the approved county wage poster, which is different than what you get from the state or most chambers of commerce;
- Employers must give all of their employees an initial compensation disclosure statement, which must include 1) employer’s name; 2) employee’s rate of pay; 3) employer’s tip policy; 4) if employee is paid by the hour, shift, day, etc.; 5) formula by which the county can determine the employee’s rate of pay and total pay; 6) the regular pay day; 7) each deduction to be taken from the employee’s paycheck; and, 8) additional information specified in the director’s rules.
- Pay period statement to be given with every pay check, which includes 1) rate of pay; 2) the pay basis; 3) gross wages; and, 4) additional information specified in the director’s rules.
- Employers shall retain accurate and complete payroll records pertaining to each employee that document the name, address, occupation, dates of employment, rate or rates of pay, amount paid each pay period, the hours worked for each employee, and the formula by which each employee’s wages are calculated. These records must be kept for a minimum of four years.
If an employer fails to follow these rules and an employee complains to the county, the employer will be presumed to have retaliated against the employee. And, if either the county or an employee successfully challenges anything to do with the employer’s compliance with the new ordinance, then both the employee and the county are potentially entitled to recover fines from the employer.
And then, to rub salt into the wound, if an employer is found to have violated the ordinance, the employer must post the wage enforcement order in the workplace, where all of the other employees can see it.
Don’t be surprised if those employees figure out on their own that maybe they could get some more money from the employer.
And, oh, yeah, you the employer had to start doing this on July 1, 2016. Like I said: Welcome to 2017.
Carl Kanowsky of Kanowsky & Associates is an attorney in the Santa Clarita Valley. He may be reached by email at [email protected]. Mr. Kanowsky’s column represents his own views, and not necessarily those of The Signal. Nothing contained herein shall be or is intended to be construed as providing legal advice.