The minimum wage hike proposal approved by an L.A. City Council committee this week might require employers to pay minimum wage workers for time off.
The Council’s economic development committee approved a plan late Wednesday to hike the city’s minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2020 for large businesses and by 2021 for small businesses.
In the proposal was language saying a minimum wage ordinance must be “consistent” with existing city living-wage policies. Those policies – enacted separately for city contractors, airport-area hotels and large hotels citywide – all include provisions that employees be provided with 12 paid days off each year.
On Friday, the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce issued a statement strongly condemning the possible inclusion of paid time off in the minimum wage ordinance, saying the idea had not previously been discussed.
"Including 12 days of mandatory paid time off for every employee in every business and nonprofit in Los Angeles was not discussed in public session. This may happen in Sacramento or Washington, D.C., but it should never happen in Los Angeles,” said Chamber President Gary Toebben in the statement. “For business, this action creates a lack of trust in the City Council.”
Connie Llanos, a spokeswoman for Councilman Curren Price, the committee chairman, said the reference to making the minimum wage policy consistent with the city’s living-wage policies does not mean it must be identical to those policies. But she also said that if the living-wage rules include paid time off, so should the minimum wage ordinance.
“All it means is that if existing city living wage policies have provisions for paid time off, then this policy, too, should have provisions,” Llanos said. “They don’t have to be the exact same provisions. Indeed, there has been no specific determination as to the number of days for paid time off. That will be determined as this proposal moves forward in the (full) Council and with city staff.”
It’s not clear if the committee intended to include a time-off provision in its recommendation or if the time-off issue fell into the proposal by way of its inclusion in living-wage ordinances, which include myriad work rules and provisions governing everything from hiring to how tips should be distributed.
The time-off issue was first raised by the Valley Industry and Commerce Association, which strongly opposes the idea. In a statement Thursday, the Sherman Oaks business advocacy group inferred that the committee’s proposal would mandate 12 paid days off and said no such mandate has been mentioned before the committee’s meeting this week.
“Providing such a large amount of paid time off will be especially harmful to small businesses, as well as the service industry,” VICA said in its statement. “To combine the requirement with such a dramatic hike in the minimum wage will raise costs on businesses exponentially.”
During the brief debate over the proposal following a closed session Wednesday, there was an exchange between Price and Valley Councilman Paul Krekorian, a committee member, in which Krekorian questioned whether the term “consistent” with existing city wage policies meant “identical” to those policies. Price said that issue would be determined when the full City Council took up the plan.
Until this year, there was no requirement for paid time off for workers in California. But that changed with passage last year of the paid sick leave law, which requires employers to provide a minimum of three days a year of paid sick leave as a benefit to all workers.