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  • Glicel Sumagaysay

Increased Minimum Wage and Sick Leave Requirements for the City of Oakland

Minimum Wage

There is a new minimum wage in the City of Oakland of $12.25 per hour, which took effect on March 2, 2015. The minimum wage rate is to increase yearly on January 1st based on increases in the cost of living (corresponding to the prior calendar year’s increase, if any, in the Consumer Price Index for urban wage earners and clerical workers for the San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose, CA metropolitan statistical area, or if such index is discontinued, then in the most similar successor index). This applies to the same employees in Oakland that the state minimum wage law covers, who work at least two hours in a week within the City of Oakland. See Oakland Municipal Code, Section 5.92.020.

Sick leave

Also beginning March 2, 2015, employers in Oakland must provide paid sick leave to their employees at a minimum rate of one hour for every 30 hours worked. Employees hired after March 2, 2015 cannot use their paid sick leave until after 90 days of employment.

Sick leave begins to accrue March 2, 2015. Fractions of hours of sick leave cannot be accrued. Small business owners can cap their employees’ sick leave time to 40 hours or more, while other employers can cap their sick leave hours to 72 hours or more. Sick leave carries over year to year subject to the established caps. Employers do not need to pay employees unused sick leave upon employees’ departure.

Employees can use paid sick leave for their own illness or injury, or to care for certain specified family members or other designated persons who are ill or injured.

Employers cannot require, as a condition of employment, that the employee find someone to cover for him or her while he or she is on paid sick leave.

Employers can require reasonable efforts to verify the employee’s use of sick leave is lawful, but it cannot require such efforts if it will cost the employee more than $5.00 for such verification. See Oakland Municipal Code Section 5.92.030.

Employers Cannot Retaliate Against Employees For Exercising Their Rights in Connection with the new Minimum Wage and Sick Leave laws

Employers cannot retaliate against employees exercising their rights in relation to minimum wage and sick leave. If an employer discharges an employee within 120 days from such an exercise, it must show clear and convincing evidence of just cause for the discharge.

Employees cannot waive their rights regarding the new minimum wage and sick leave laws, except under a collective bargaining agreement that clearly and unambiguously sets out such a waiver.

Employers must notify their current employees in writing of these new laws and newly hired employees upon hire. See Oakland Municipal Code Section 5.92.050.

For questions regarding the minimum wage and sick leave laws, contact us.

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