Shulman Hodges & Bastian LLP

California employment law bill would require double pay on holidays

We recently discussed a number of changes in California employment law that will take effect in 2015. One of the major changes requires employers to provide paid sick leave to qualifying employees. On the heels of that legislation comes another proposal that would mandate double pay for workers on Christmas and Thanksgiving.

Both the paid sick leave bill and the holiday pay bill were proposed by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, who says the holiday pay bill is aimed at big retailers like Best Buy and Wal-Mart. However, the details of the legislation, including how it would be enforced, are still murky, and it remains to be seen how other types of businesses would be affected if the bill passes.

A Wal-Mart representative has already commented, saying that employees who work on Thanksgiving are already given a holiday bonus. The bonus is calculated using the employee's average daily pay during the three months prior to Thanksgiving. The representative pointed out that Wal-Mart doesn't open on Christmas.

Unionized employees such as medical providers, firefighters and police officers would not be affected by the holiday pay bill, as those employees already receive more than double pay on holidays.

Assemblywoman Gonzalez indicated that she intends to work with members of the business community to prevent unintended consequences, such as unfair demands on small businesses, in the event that the bill is passed. She openly invited conversations about potentially excluding small businesses from the mandate.

Employers and employees in California will undoubtedly want to follow up as more details on the proposal take shape.

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