Emeryville Settles Minimum Wage Rate for Small Independent Restaurants

Emeryville, California Minimum Wage PosterAfter bumpy start, the City of Emeryville, California finally decided on July 23, 2019, the fate of a separate minimum wage rate for certain small businesses that operate within the City.  The Emeryville, CA minimum wage rate of $16.30 per hour went into effect on July 1, 2019.  However, a lower $15.00 per hour minimum wage rate for some local restaurants was in play for a short time before being defeated by a referendum petition.


Minimum Wage Plan

Since July of 2015, the City of Emeryville has prescribed the minimum wage rate that employers are required to pay their employees who work within City limits, with increases scheduled to take effect each July 1.  Until 2019, the City had one minimum wage rate for small employers and another for large employers.  The City originally planned that starting July 1, 2019, only one minimum wage rate applicable to all employers regardless of size would be effect.  Just before that happened, the City Council reconsidered using a single-tier system for all employers.


Small Independent Restaurant MWO Amendment

On May 29, 2019, the City Council adopted an Amendment of the City’s Minimum Wage Ordinance (MWO) whereby businesses meeting the Ordinance’s definition of “Small Independent Restaurant” would be required to pay a minimum wage rate of $15.00 per hour, while all other business would subject to the $16.30 per hour minimum wage rate that would take effect on July 1, 2019.  The MWO Amendment provided that the minimum wage for Small Independent Restaurants would gradually increase over the next eight years, until 2027 when the minimum wage for all businesses would be the same.


On June 25, 2019, a referendum petition to overturn the decision that approved the MWO Amendment was submitted to the City.  The MWO Amendment remained in effect while the petition was certified by the Registrar of Voters and the certified results were accepted by the City Council.  This meant that beginning July 1, the minimum wage rate for Small Independent Restaurants was $15.00 per hour.  All other employers were required to pay the scheduled $16.30 minimum wage rate.  The concession for Small Independent Restaurants was short-lived.


On July 9, 2019, the City Council accepted the certified petition which had the effect of suspending the MWO Amendment leaving in effect the provisions of the MWO pre-amendment.  This meant that Small Restaurant employers were required to pay $16.30 per hour as of July 10, 2019.  Moving forward, the City Council had the option to either repeal the MWO Amendment entirely or submit the MWO Amendment to the voters in a subsequent election.  On July 23, 2019, the City Council officially repealed the MWO Amendment making all businesses responsible for paying employees at least $16.30 per hour.


Notice of the Minimum Wage

In conjunction with the repeal of the MWO Amendment, the City updated both the Minimum Wage and Paid Sick Leave Poster that employers must display in the workplace and the Minimum Wage and Paid Sick Leave Notice that must be distributed to all current employees and new employees at the time of hire.  Employers can click on the image above or click here to order the 2019 Minimum Wage and Paid Sick Leave Poster which is printed in six languages.  Employers can also download for free the Minimum Wage and Paid Sick Leave Notice in six different languages from our website here.


Emeryville’s next minimum wage increase will occur on July 1, 2020.  The annual minimum wage rate increase is determined by the prior year’s increase in the local Consumer Price Index. The 2020 minimum wage rate will apply to all employers.

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