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California workers afforded new rights and protections

Too often, stories surface about American businesses that are taking advantage of and shortchanging employees for the sake of profits. While many states continue to favor the rights of businesses over workers and fight to maintain current minimum wage laws, several pro-labor laws were recently enacted and passed in California.

California's current minimum hourly wage of $9 will increase to $10, effective July 1, 2016. While the impending increase will place the state among those with the highest minimum wages, individuals who work minimum-wage jobs often struggle financially and many, despite working full-time, are also forced to rely upon public assistance programs.

In an effort to identify those large employers who, despite high profits, continue to pay workers low wages; California lawmakers passed measure AB 1792. Under this new law, employers with more than 100 workers are required to complete reports related to the percentage of its workforce that also receive some sort of public assistance.

In addition to minimum wage increases and the enaction of AB 1792, effective July 1, all California employers must provide workers "one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked." Currently, many part-time workers and those who earn minimum wage receive no paid sick leave. Consequently, if a worker is ill or has a sick child, he or she is not paid for the time off and may even be fearful of losing one's job.

When it comes to worker rights, California remains a leader in the nation. However, there are still many California employers who fail to abide by current labor laws and there will likely be many more who fail to comply with the recently enacted or passed laws outlined here. Employers who are in violation of state and federal labor laws, must be brought to justice.

Source: care2.com, "Sweeping Labor Protections Take Effect in California," Crystal Shepeard, April 23, 2015

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