Oct. 20, 2014 San Diego Minimum Wage and Paid Sick Leave Ordinance on Hold Pending June 2016 Referendum

Yesterday the San Diego City Council voted unanimously to put its minimum wage and paid sick leave ordinance on the June 2016 primary election ballot. The council’s decision came four days after the Registrar of Voters announced that opponents of the ordinance had submitted enough valid signatures to require the council to either rescind the ordinance or to allow the city’s voters to decide its fate.


Currently the federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour. California’s minimum wage increased from $8 to $9 per hour on July 1 of this year. Employees must be paid the higher of any minimum wage in effect, which means workers in San Diego are currently subject to the state minimum wage.

The city’s ordinance, which the council approved in July of this year, would for the first time have established a city minimum wage higher than both the federal and state minimums. A city minimum wage of $9.75 per hour would have taken effect on January 1, 2015, and would have increased to $10.50 per hour on January 1, 2016, and to $11.50 per hour on January 1, 2017.

The ordinance would also have required employers within the city of San Diego to provide employees with up to five days or 40 hours of paid sick leave each year beginning July 1, 2015. Additional information about the ordinance can be found in our July 17, 2014 E-Update.

What This Means

If the city’s voters approve the ordinance, it is unclear how soon after the vote employers will be required to implement its requirements. The City Attorney’s office is researching issues related to the referendum and is expected to provide guidance well before the June 2016 referendum.

In the meantime, San Diego is subject to state laws that will increase California’s minimum wage from $9 to $10 per hour on January 1, 2016, and will require California employers to provide up to three days or 24 hours of paid sick leave to employees beginning July 1, 2015. Information about California’s new paid sick leave requirement can be found in our September 10, 2014 E-Update.

This E-Update was authored by Aaron Buckley.  For more information, please contact Mr. Buckley or any other Paul, Plevin attorney by calling (619) 237-5200.